Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Author Interview: FAULT LINE by Christa Desir and Autographed Giveaway!

Debut Author, Christa Desir, absolutely stunned me as a reader with her frank look at a taboo subject in FAULT LINE, published on October 15, 2013 by SimonPulse. Once you start, you won't be able to stop turning pages, and at 225 pages of no-holds-barred storytelling, you can easily finish it in one sitting, or at most a 24 hour period of time.

Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

You can check out my book review of FAULT LINE here.

Christa graciously agreed to join me for an author interview about FAULT LINE, as well as her experience as a writer, and even her The Voices and Faces Project Workshops. Not only that, but she has offered an autographed, signed hardcover of FAULT LINE for a lucky reader to win.

*Spoiler Warning*
This interview does refer directly to the topic this book is about. If you've been around the internet and blogosphere much, you've likely already learned what the topic is about. Pretty much anyone with active brain cells can deduce what the topic is, given Christa's volunteer work and platform. If you don't mind reading about that, the rest of the interview will not ruin your reading of the book. Read away! It's a great interview. Otherwise, stop reading now, go read the book, then come back and read this interview. You can still scroll to the bottom and enter to win the signed copy of FAULT LINE.

Without further stalling, I welcome Christa Desir, brave and bold author with an amazing panache for brilliant writing. Christa, thank you for agreeing to do this author interview. I will try not to fanboy too much, but SQUEEE, you're my new favorite author, so, like, EEEEP, and stuff.

*nothing but crickets*


1. FAULT LINE is your debut novel. Is this the first novel you've written? How did this all happen? Can you share your agent offer of rep to publishing contract story? Also, since this book is unusual, in that it came out of a workshop experience, can you elaborate on how that worked? (Click the book cover to add this to your TBR pile on Goodreads)
It's not the first novel I wrote. I wrote a crazy game book first that I revised and rewrote to draft 76 before I decided to trunk it. While I was working on that book from hell, I attended a writing workshop for rape survivors. In that workshop, one of the exercises was to write a scene from the POV of a different gender or sexual orientation. When I was doing it, Ben sort of crawled into my head and wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote his story.
So my first book was out on sub with a couple of full requests, but I'd sort of lost hope for it. And Fault Line was a better book. I just knew it. So I queried it to five of my top agents. I got offer of reps from three of them, and I chose Sarah LaPolla because she planted her flag in dark, edgy books and understood what I wanted to do with this book, where it came from, my own story as a survivor, and all that it could be.
We went back and forth on whether I should fix the game book and put that on submission with editors first, but in the end, Sarah and I decided that Fault Line was sort of the book of my heart. I didn't have much hope for it, honestly. It was short, dark, didn't have a happy ending, was told from a boy's POV, was pretty graphic, etc. I always knew if it went forward, I'd give half the money from all of it back to survivors so we could do more writing workshops.
Less than a month after we went on sub, Simon Pulse called and said they wanted it. It was amazing and so unexpected. My publisher and editors at Pulse have championed this book from the beginning. Taken it on knowing that it would be difficult to get into schools, libraries, etc. They believed in it and I couldn't be more grateful.
And so I paid for another survivor writing workshop with my advance, then I did an IndieGoGo fundraiser to be able to do a workshop in NYC (happening in May 2014), and all of this is because of the writing and publishing community. People ask me what success for this book looks like: it's exceeded my wildest expectations. Two testimonial writing workshops have come out of it, I just sold audio rights for the book so that money will be poured into a third workshop, etc. I couldn't ask for more and am incredibly grateful for the mountain of support I've gotten for this difficult book.
2. BLEED LIKE ME is coming out next. Can you tell us anything about it or is it all sekrit things and such? (Click the book cover to add this to your TBR pile on Goodreads)
I love this book. Still, even when I'm just now doing final pass pages and should be sick of it, I love it. It's about two messed-up teenagers who get involved and their relationship becomes way dysfunctional and drags them further into a crap salad. It's what I call my Sid and Nancy YA. There's YA out there where two troubled teens get together and pull each other out of the mess. This book is not that. It's an exploration of when a relationship pulls you further down. When you lose yourself in someone else to the point of it being dangerous for both of you. I don't know. Not very many people have read it. It's much different than Fault Line in that way, where I had lots of beta readers and agent feedback, etc. This one had only a few betas and my agent and editor. And my editor and I changed something pretty significant in it so it's really only the two of us who are in on it. I'm such an extrovert, I covet feedback all the time. But there's something magical about how this book is going to land in people's hands with no one but my editor and I knowing how it all ends.
3. What does a typical writing day look like for you? Do you have a daily word count goal? If so, how many words per day?
Right now, I write every morning from 5-7am. I'm a romance editor for my day job so I spend the rest of the day doing that. I write on the weekends sometimes. I write on holiday. I write at night sometimes. Then I won't write for months. That's the way of it for me. I am crazy prolific in the fall and winter and then won't write a word for months. This is not a system to model. It's what works for me. I think different things work for everyone. I don't follow rules. I fall in love with something and write it. Then I spend a few months fixing it. Then I putz around and read lots and wait for another idea to come. I have many novels drafted that don't work. I'm sitting on them, waiting for the time when I know how to fix them. I have a few novels that are ready to go on submission, but my agent and I are sort of figuring out what to do with them.
4. How do you edit a WIP (Work In Progress)? Do you revise cover to cover? Do you target specific things? (adverbs, passive voice, dialogue, etc.)
I do edit cover to cover. I go in. I read through, I fix things, I go through the whole book. I send it to my CPs. I get their feedback. I go back in again. I fix cover to cover. I send it to my teen betas. I get their feedback. I go back in again. Then I send it to my agent. I'm rarely 100% happy with it, but I don't think authors ever are. And I have a great relationship with my editor, so I know she'll be able to see something and suggest ways to fix it or suggest what isn't working so I can see the forest through the trees a bit better.
5. How do you find and create a character? Do you hear their voice while you're writing, or even between writing? At what point do you know you've found your character for sure? In FAULT LINE, your MCs and your supporting characters were fleshed out so well. Did that come naturally (side eye/jealous of your talent), or did you have to cultivate them to discover the characters we read in your book?
I struggled with voice a lot when I first started. That's why my game book got revised 76 times. No heart. No voice. Then Ben came, and I stopped struggling with it. I realized I just had to wait for my characters to come to me. I won't write a book without a character in my head, without their world and their friends and their family fleshed out in my brain. And they tell me their story. That's what I think it means to be a pantser. I generally know the plots of my books from a macro perspective, but all the little unexpected things that happen, that's my characters telling me.
6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Writing a new story (I hope!)? Can you tell us any specifics? Do you have plans already? (beyond BLEED LIKE ME)
*squeezes you for details about current projects*
Well, I did a collaboration with Jolene Perry that sold to Simon Pulse recently called Love Blind. It's about a leader of a girl band with macular degeneration and this shy, troubled boy who she befriends and the course of this friendship over three years. I love collabing with Jolene. She pushes me into an optimistic space that my writing rarely has.
My agent has a few solo projects I've finished. We're sort of deciding what to do with them. One is relentlessly brutal and maybe too dark for YA. One is sort of a YA American Psycho. And the current one I'm writing is about addiction. I also hope to do more collab's with Jo in the future. I don't know where I'll be in five years. I keep wondering if the book I'm writing will be my last, but so far, I still have more stuff to say.
7. YA novels are the new darlings of Hollywood. What are your thoughts on what's come out so far? Are you a closet Hunger Games fan (for example)? Would you like to see any of your books as a movie? If so, which ones? Why? Would you like to be involved in the process? How so?
Gah, this is where I tell you I don't watch movies or TV. I mean, occasionally I'll see movies, but really I'm such a reader and I never think movies do books justice. I've heard good things about the Hunger Games movies. I'll watch them eventually, but it'll be like 2016. LOL.
My books aren't exactly "movie material", you know? Fault Line for sure isn't. Hollywood doesn't really make rape movies like this, I don't think. As for the rest of them, we'll see, I guess. Because I don't watch movies, I don't think I'd really get involved in all of that. I have a hard enough time with feedback as is, to have to take it about a movie that I have so little control over doesn't seem like something I'd want to get into. Like I felt really bad that John Green had to defend that tagline for TFiOS poster. I'm guessing he didn't write it or have one thing to do with it.
This is the hard thing with authors, there are things that aren't in our control that we still have to get the feedback from. Covers, for example. We get little say, but if people don't like your cover, it's not like they're telling the art department. They're telling you. It comes with the territory, but being held accountable for a movie isn't something I'd want to get too involved with.
8. FAULT LINE faces the issue of rape in a very direct and powerful way. I especially love the focus on the aftermath that comes out of the incident at the party. As a survivor of CSA myself, I found it quite believable. As a person who works in mental health, I believe this book honestly portrays survivors reliving their trauma as self-inflicted punishment. Given your background, why did you choose to write about this issue, and what kind of flack have you received in tackling this topic in your debut novel?
Mostly people don't like the ending. Survivors like it. Or they get it. But a lot of people want more closure for Ani, not understanding that rape doesn't just get healed or go away after six months. I wanted to write this book because I had something to say about how rape transforms people beyond the survivor, I had something to say about the issue of culpability, I had something to say about healing and happy endings and the reality that sometimes we "lose" survivors no matter how much we try to make things better for them. And I also wanted boys to read a book where they identified with someone who wasn't a perpetrator, but was really just a kid trying his best. 
Also, people want both Ben and Ani to be heroes, which they are not. They're teens dealing with a crappy situation. They do dumb things, they don't do things they should. This isn't a morality book. It's a book about the reality of things. I worked as an advocate for many years, I've seen both Bens and Anis in hospital ERs. Surviving rape is difficult, painful. You take two steps forward and four steps back and you hope that someone is there to hold your hand. There's always this weight, even years afterwards. You heal, but it's not like you're without scars. That's the reality. I didn't want to focus on the perpetrators or getting the bad guys. That happened so rarely in the ERs when I'd go in. I wanted to focus on how rape changes everyone.
9. Ben and Ani hook up pretty fast. Did your MS always move this quickly, or did this come out through the revision process? What does this say about teens today, and would you consider this the norm, or unique to the story you had to tell?
Well, when I first drafted this book, it was maybe 22k. Then I got an agent when it was 34k. We went on submission with it at 39k. The final book was 50k. I originally spent very little time with the love story. But my agent and editor both felt I needed to spend enough time with it so we understood why Ben would stay. But in terms of the pacing, yes, it was very intentional. Clipped scenes that moved fast and skipped over chunks of time. We did this to match the pacing of the second half of the book. All of it is meant to be like a montage for Ben. What he would remember about that time. What it was like before, what it was like after. It was a stylistic choice and I stand by it because of who I was writing for. I wanted this book to be short and hard-hitting because I wanted reluctant readers to give it a chance. To find something in this story that they could engage with and stick to.
10. Ben and Ani want to work out this problem on their own. In fact, they keep the rape secret from parents, family, and teachers/coaches. Ben eventually reached out for more help once he realized it was too big for him. What made you choose this for your book? Have you explored other options? It definitely worked for me, keeping me frantically turning pages.
Well, in my teenage life, I told my parents nothing. Or next to nothing. I wanted to be my own person. And I wanted to make my own mistakes. For Ani, I wanted her to not get her mom involved because of her independence and her feeling of culpability. It took me over ten years to tell my parents I was sexually assaulted. It is a difficult thing to tell anyone, particularly parents who want to protect you so much. And Ani's mom was a single mom who had things of her own she was working through. Disclosing rape is very, very hard...think of the number of people who keep it secret for years. I don't believe my characters acted differently from how many teenagers would act. Particularly considering that Ani held herself responsible for what happened.
And with Ben, I wanted his independence, his Haitian stubbornness, his feeling like this was something he could do himself to be one of his big flaws. And I wanted him to think this wasn't his secret to tell...because many teenagers are faced with that issue in lots of different forms. They know their friends have eating disorders or are cutting or have addiction issues and they think, "this isn't really my business." That's why so much of the current "anti-bullying" curriculum is about engaging teens into being more active bystanders. Think about the kids in Steubenville who watched that girl dragged to three different parties. No one did anything. They took pictures or tweeted them. Teenagers do not like to get adults involved.
Thank you for the chance to discuss your book and your writing process. I'm looking forward to many more books from you, Christa. And, thank you very much for your generous offer to giveaway an autographed HC of FAULT LINE.
You tackled so much. Thank YOU!!!! This was a great interview.
You can find out more about Christa Desir at her website: www.christadesir.com and via her Voices and Faces Project website: http://www.voicesandfaces.org/index.html
Christa also has a BlogFacebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review: FAULT LINE by Christa Desir

Fault Line
***UPDATE: Author Interview and signed HC Giveaway of FAULT LINE by Christa Desir here***

Fault Line by Christa Desir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found myself turning page after page and looked up only to find the train had left the station and I was along for the ride. Only, this isn't the kind of train ride you'd want to willingly take. But the truth is, it's a reality all too common in today's world, for teens, and for those who've gone through the kind of trauma at the center of Ben and Ani's relationship. Sure, they could have been happy. At first, they had it all: perfect couple, bright futures, supportive families, friends who had their backs.

Their story is what drew me onto the train in the first place.

Then, it happened. The thing that unraveled it all, and left every painful nerve ending open and raw and exposed to the harsh reality of this thing, and what it can do to the survivor and those she or he cares about. Sure, they tried to move on, they tried to make it through, and they both were willing to sacrifice all the broken pieces of themselves to try to glue together what remained.

At just over 200 pages, this reads very fast. Each chapter is rampant with cloying emotion, gut-twisting tension, and charged words. Ben and Ani will have you falling in love, cheering for them as a couple, and wondering once the fault occurs, whether they'll ever be the same again. It also had me asking the question (found on the front cover), who do you blame?

Christa Desir has written an amazingly powerful, and brief story that unflinchingly and honestly faces a tough issue, grips it by the throat, and shines light for the reader to see it in all it's horrible reality. As each character tries their best to reach out and help, it becomes increasingly complicated and further and further from the place it had been not so long ago.

Part of this is due to the need for secrecy, for Ben and Ani to stubbornly try to fix this problem themselves. As time goes on, and attempts fail to resolve the problem, it becomes clear that this is far bigger than either Ben or Ani had bargained for. Neither of them have it within themselves to fix. It's not that easy. This isn't a fairy tale or a Disney movie. Happily ever after doesn't even come close.

As the spiraling shitstorm reaches its zenith, the reader wonders if anyone will escape the wrath of the storm. This raises a question: Is there a right way and a wrong way to deal with trauma and its aftereffects?

Once the lighter's flicked on, can anyone avoid the burn? Read it and find out.

Highly recommended. Bravely written, with poignant and thoughtful prose as beautiful as poetry.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 26, 2013

(Braiding) Character, Dialogue, and Plot with Words (Instead of Hair)

How well do you braid? Can you tie it in a knot? Can you tie it in a bow? How about if it's words you're braiding instead of hair? Have you given any thought to the way in which the writer must lay down certain threads of characterization, dialogue, and plot, and how to weave them together in such a way as to create the spark that becomes the beat of a particular plot point, or a killer turn of phrase?

There is a point in a story where the writer begins to weave words with actions, dialogue with description, and what becomes created in the mind of the reader is an amazing artifact that lifts off the page and can be felt in a tangible and real way. But unless this is done correctly, and in a way that seems to take little or no effort, it is seldom successful at transporting a reader fully into the world of your characters and their story.

This takes showing versus telling to a whole new level. Not only must you create the elements and set them into motion, but you've got to provide implicit ways of doing so, where the reader must infer your intended meaning and stay interested enough to keep reading and turning pages. If you use explicit ways of weaving in information to your story, you're likely to push the reader away, and create a rift of distance for the reader who is trying to connect and be drawn into your story.

Today's blog is about identifying the ways a writer weaves elements into a story, and hopefully, how to do so artfully where you and the reader don't even realize the word braids are there, but it has the desired effect of drawing you into the characters and story. Let's start by isolating each word braid and then we'll weave them together.

Word Braid #1: Character

Characterization is the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character, using a combination of direct and indirect characterization. This could be explained by simple show versus tell. Direct characterization is when the writer speaks to the reader directly about the character, or TELLING. Indirect characterization is when the writer implies information about the character the reader must infer, or SHOWING. The risk of direct characterization is it can turn off your reader. If the reader agrees with you, they'll shrug and give you the benefit of the doubt, but we naturally trust what we know in our own gut and don't like it when someone else tells us what we're thinking or feeling.

Word Braid #2: Dialogue

Dialogue is even harder to write than character. Dialogue requires VOICE. For voice to be effective, it must contain a balance of syntax, diction, and punctuation and consider how tone plays into a particular scene. Dialogue speeds up the pacing of the story, usually because of conflict, and can be used in a variety of ways. Factors that vary dialogue include: how many characters are speaking, is the conversation static or dynamic (are we sipping tea or throwing down punches and kicks?), and are the dialogue tags helpful or hindering? (remember that "said" disappears, too many tags drag down the scene, and there needs to be a point for the conversation to be taking place).

Something I enjoy about an especially clever use of dialogue is when it's sprinkled with backstory (not DROWNED), and it can even be used to show what isn't being said rather than what is being said. For example:

I wanted to tell her how I felt about her, the way my insides squelch and flop whenever she comes by, but instead I play it cool with a "Hey," instead of an "I can't stop thinking about you!"

Other variations might include a text or IM:

I started to text: You've been on my mind heavily today. Let's get together. Before I hit send, I delete what I wrote and text: Hey. I doubt she'll reply. But maybe...

Word Braid #3: Plot

Last but not least is plot. Plotting is heaps of fun, especially doing horrible and mean things to our beloved characters. Poking, prodding, dropping grand pianos on them are just the beginning of all we might have planned. Plot is basically throwing everything at your character, lighting them on fire, chasing them up a tree, chopping the tree down, and seeing what they'll do next. Throw the plot at them until they end up in their own plot.

Other beats important to a fully realized plot include a hook, a decision, coming to the end of the rope, and then pushing a little farther, and the resolution. In the context of braiding these might sound like hair tools, but really, they're employed to drive the story forward to the climax and the resolution for our characters.

How to Keep Your Braid From Unraveling

Okay, so I've talked about word braids and the layers, parts, and pieces that make up the ingredients of each section of the braid. Now for the putting it all together part. Braiding is fun. Say it with me. Knit one, purl two. Er. Wait. That sounds wrong.

I'm no expert at braiding, but here are a few things I've noticed that can be carried over to the writing kinds of braids I'm talking about today:

  • It's hard to hold and gather all three strands
  • Each strand must not be bigger than any other strand
  • It helps to count out loud to keep track of which strand goes next
  • You have to plan ahead, each strand is drawn in with the rest prior to the actual braid
  • Follow the line the braid is forming and drive it toward the ending

I'm sure there are more. Please feel free to share any you think of in the comments section. The point of this blog is to get you thinking. Basically, you introduce each thread prior to the actual place it's braided into the story, and when it comes time for the braid, it weaves right in like it was meant to be there. I find a chapter ahead of when an element is being braided in works well. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. It varies in the same way you braid longer or shorter depending on what part of the head you're currently braiding.

Just like it's hard to hold hair in three strands, it's hard to hold together character, dialogue, and plot in a rotating, seamless word braid. Just like with braiding, errant strands break loose, and not everyone is skillful at juggling flaming torches, let alone words. It takes finesse sometimes to get all the kinks out. But if you keep at it, eventually you get it right and what you have at the end is as beautiful as any of these braids featured in today's blog. Just as with juggling, you need a balance to the pacing of each throw, tossing each item into the air and watching as it descends to the point you've got to touch it again. Braiding is similar. There's a rhythm and a beat that makes it just work, coming together in a style that stays where you put it and does what you want it to do. Reading aloud and counting aloud are also good tricks to help you in the braiding process. To achieve maximum effect, you want to place each braid thread at the best possible moment to highlight it and have it play out against character, dialogue, and plot. Let's not forget twists and other fancy word braids.

Getting Fancy (Or Advanced Braiding Techniques)

Word braiding is something new I'm playing with. I'd say I could braid a straight French braid in terms of words. But some of these fancier ones, I would probably knot up my plot and dialogue and character if I tried to pull it off. Still, the thought is intriguing.

If today's post resonates with you, I hope you'll pass it along, and join in the discussion in the comments below. Time to stretch those writer fingers. How well do you braid?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Author Interview and GIVEAWAY: (Part Two) Cheryl Rainfield on STAINED and Why She Writes

Follow Along Here and on Twitter with #STAINEDBook for your chance to win package giveaways of all of Cheryl’s Titles and even an eREADER!


I am honored to host PART TWO of a two part Author Interview with the very candid and down to earth Young Adult Author, Cheryl Rainfield. PART ONE can be found here. The last time I was so honored to speak with Cheryl about her first two books, SCARS and HUNTED, I focused on the writing process. If you didn't have a chance to read that interview yet, check it out here.

Today, I focused on Cheryl's most recent release, STAINED, and the topics Cheryl often writes about. I guess I did too good of a job with these questions, since we are dividing the interview in half, but so much of what Cheryl says is so very important, I believe it will be worthy of two posts.

Now to welcome our guest, Cheryl Rainfield!

Let's continue, shall we?

I work in the mental health field with school aged clients, many of whom have significant trauma histories. I'm also writing my own stories of a similar nature, which I hope to share someday. I've seen a model used for victims of abuse, one they can begin with and move toward the direction of surviving and overcoming. Victim --> Survivor --> Adaptor --> Thriver --> Overcomer. It's the one I use, and continue to work on daily. What tools and resources have you found and help you to cope with your traumatic past? Likewise, what helps you keep a healthy present and future?

It sounds like your clients are lucky to have you! It helps so much to have someone understand. And I’m glad you’re working on stories that will help make a positive, healing difference. They’re so important!

A lot of things have helped me as a survivor, and continue to help me. For me, it was key to remember a lot of abuse and exactly who my abusers were, so that I could get myself safe. I also needed (and still need) a good therapist—one who gives me compassion, empathy, knows about the issues I deal with, allows me to work at my own pace, and is willing to try different things with me. A good therapist can help SO much, and help the healing happen faster. Safe touch has also helped me immensely—it’s helped me know I’m lovable, helped me be kinder to my own body, helped me reclaim my own body, and helped me get some of the nurturance that I never received growing up.

In therapy, I’ve used EMDR (eye movement therapy that uses tapping or light bar to help work through traumatic memory or emotion, dissociation, etc.), and I’ve found that helpful, as well as art therapy, talk therapy, etc.

Getting positives from other people about me—in written form, through voicemail or video, in person—also really helps me, since low self-esteem is something a lot of survivors deal with. Since I was trained to not allow in positives, and was taught negatives and that I was hated, I have to hear them repeated many, many times to have them go in, but I think they’re important.

I also think knowing when to push forward, and knowing when you need a break from emotion or memories, or to shift your mood, is really important. Since I used self-harm to cope, and since I have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), heavy depression, and a lot of other effects, it’s really important for me to remember to use multiple tools to shift my mood or help get myself out of trauma: positive distraction (a movie or book that makes me feel good, playing with my little dog, etc); getting out the emotion or memories in safe ways (crying, pounding a pillow, drawing, writing, dance, etc); reaching out for help; making sure I don’t isolate and spending time with people; asking for a hug; using positive messages, etc.

I’ve found EFT/TFT (Emotional Freedom Technique/Thought Field Therapy) incredibly helpful for panic attacks, and I think I’ll be looking into it for other things as well. I also believe in natural and holistic medicine. I personally don’t want to take medications; my abusers used drugs in some of the abuse, but I do use natural supplements such as Gaba Plus and SAMe for depression.

It’s been key for me to find ways to save myself, over and over, until I was truly safe (including remembering the identities of my abusers so I could get away from them; running away; keeping hold of my truths and my soul); giving myself some of the things I never got (like loving attention and compassion; or even things like toys); and to create my own family by surrounding myself with loving people who I love back, who don’t mistreat me. My little dog Petal also is an incredible help—dogs give such unconditional love—and so was my last little dog Willow and my cat Amazon.

I’m still trying to find a balance between work and play—I work way too hard, and I need to learn to be more gentle with myself, but I am more than I’ve ever been. Recognizing the progress we’ve made also helps. (smiling)

How does writing the books you've written and published, plus the ones you're currently working on, help you on the path you find yourself on? How does it impact you negatively, if at all? (Has facing these issues triggered you somewhere in the writing process?) If you're comfortable, can you speak to this and how you cope?

Writing my books, and having them get published, gives me a voice. I had no voice growing up, and my abusers told me that they would kill me if I talked—and since I saw them murder others, I knew they could do it. So writing (and art) became my way of talking. But getting my books published gives me a voice in a big way.

And it’s so important to me to help others—to encourage greater healing and compassion—and  the way that I do that is through my books. That is a part of my healing as well, especially when I hear from readers things like because of my books they’ve stopped cutting, gotten help, haven’t killed themselves, feel understood. So writing my books and having them get published, having readers read them and respond to me and write me, is a huge piece of my healing, and wonderful for me. I believed in myself and my writing, my truths and the things I had to say, for years, but I also fought depression, all the effects of the abuse and trauma, plus despair when eight, nine, ten years had passed before I was published. Getting published was a celebration and a dream come true! Reaching so many readers has been another dream, amazing to be able to get.

But since I write from my own abuse and trauma experience, it brings up a lot of emotion and memories for me when I both write and edit my work. I relive the trauma I went through every time. I’m used to doing memory work, and writing both helps me get out the memories/emotion and have a voice, but it can still be painful, and sometimes depressing when I realize how much its affected me, how little “normal” I ever had, etc. I can also find it really painful when someone doesn’t like my work or something in it, because I put SO much of myself into my books, and also because I faced so much criticism and hate from my abusers that I am extra sensitive to criticism. I try to keep some distance and refocus myself on all the many positive reviews. I have two wonderful friends and my therapist who consistently help remind me of my successes and the positive reviews, and help me try to pull away from the negatives.

When my working on a manuscript becomes too painful, I try to make sure I take a break, whether it’s within that day, or whether it’s a much longer break of a week or even weeks. I also have times of the year when the torture and cult abuse was at peak levels, such as certain holidays or other times, and often I don’t work on my writing very much in those times. So instead I’ll focus more on book promotion (which I always do, even when I’m editing and writing a lot). I try, too, to make sure that I eat well—healthy food can help improve mood (and unhealthy food can make depression, anxiety, etc. worse), that I get enough sleep, that I make sure to take multiple breaks in the day, and that I talk out things with my therapist if too much is coming up. My little dog Petal is amazing at nudging me with toys or her head to make sure that I take multiple breaks in the day, and I have some friends who make sure to keep in touch with me even when I am working way too hard.

I also use all the coping techniques I normally use when things are hard, things I’ve mentioned above, especially talking out the triggers and memories. I try to make sure I build in some fun time—with friends or alone—and I try to celebrate the successes, even small things (which I don’t do enough). And I make sure I read a lot for pleasure; reading feeds my soul.

What writing projects are you working on now (that you can talk about)? When might we expect to see these projects come our way?

I’m working on two realistic YA suspense novels, still have the sequel to Hunted on the burner (I would have had that out sooner if my first publisher hadn’t closed down), and another YA fantasy.

"Sometimes you have to be your own hero," is the logline emblazoned on the revised (and less graphic) cover for STAINED. Why was this true for Sarah, and I suspect, for you as well?

No one knew who had taken Sarah or where she was, aside from her abductor, and since she was kept in an isolated area, no one could hear her, either. If Sarah hadn’t found a way to save herself, she would have died there. And if Sarah hadn’t psychologically fought her abductor, she also could have died or been unable to cope. It took Sarah a while—the natural need for someone to save us is so strong—but when she finally realized she had to be the one to save herself, she became very focused and found her own way.

I also had to save myself, multiple times, to fully escape all the abuse and torture and get myself truly safe. I did it in many stages and various ways, including running away from home as a teen, telling about the abuse in different ways, remembering who my abusers were, working on my own healing, fighting my abusers psychologically, breaking off contact with my abusers, and working to lessen my dissociation and know everything I needed to know.

And for both Sarah and myself, we had to not completely give up, we had to find the inner strength even when at times it would have been easier to just die.

I gathered you did a significant amount of research evident in the pages of STAINED. Everything from the condition Sarah is born with, the diet of an abduction victim, torture, brainwashing, grooming victims, and the psychology of a rapist, and even the SANE medical examination, among others. Did you research things that never made it into the story? How did your research impact Sarah and Nick's story?

For most of the things in the story I used my own trauma and life experiences as research. I did really research port-wine stains and how they’ve affected some people (including the bullying), some of the nutritional affects on Sarah with her diet, how she’d be received at the hospital (I never went in to the hospital for any of the things my abusers did to me; they dealt with me at home), and some facts around guns. (Anything I got wrong is my fault.)

In talking to a nurse, I added in the SANE information and how a kind nurse might respond to Sarah, though I drew on my own experiences as a teen for how it felt to be examined after rape and abuse. I put in more kind people to respond to Sarah than I had in my own experiences as a teen.

For your readers who have not experienced the horrific things Sarah faces in STAINED, why is it still a good thing to read your book(s)?

A novel is first about entertaining us, taking us into another world, another person’s mind and soul. And I think I do that with Sarah, so that even if you haven’t experienced the traumatic things Sarah’s been through, you come away with a greater appreciation for the good things you have, and more compassion for others. STAINED may also help readers appreciate and love their own bodies more, or become more aware of body image issues, since Sarah goes through that journey, and as readers we usually identify with the character and so learn, safely, along with them. And STAINED may also help readers recognize their own strength, and know that they can protect themselves and others when they have to.

The tension and stakes present in STAINED are huge, all the way up to the ending. I've seen it described as a thriller. Do you agree with this? Why or why not? What made you write at such a break-neck, ripped from the headlines kind of pace?

I’m glad you felt the tension in STAINED! (smiling) I write with great tension to grip readers, to keep them hooked in the story AND because that’s what these traumatic events demand; there IS great tension and emotion in being abducted, being raped, fearing for your life, needing to escape. I also write with great tension because that’s what I know inside out; I lived most of my life in fear and constant tension because of the abuse and trauma. I think it’s a state that many trauma and abuse survivors know. I used to be so tense that I trembled constantly on the inside, and my breathing was always shallow. While I still don’t breathe deeply, I don’t tremble any more—but I do remember that constant anxiety and fear, and I can infuse my characters with it because that’s what they’re living. That’s what abuse and trauma does to us.

Of your published books, SCARS is in the category of "banned books." How does this impact your writing, and how to you speak out regarding "banned books." Have any of your other books come under similar attack, and how do you respond?

I find it painful when my books are challenged and removed from shelves. I know what it was like to so desperately need reflections of my own experience in the safety of books and not be able to find it. When my books are challenged or banned, some readers who need my books just as desperately won’t find them.

But having my books challenged doesn’t affect my writing; it doesn’t stop me from writing about the things I need to write about, the silences I need to break, the trauma I need to talk about. I’ve spoken out about banned and challenged books many times over the years, including the #YASaves campaign on Twitter that YA author Maureen Johnson started, as well as some videos, poetry, and blog posts.
My most recent include my poem and video: The Sadness of Banned Books


and my two guest posts “Books Save Lives. Don’t Try To Take That Away.” http://www.ekristinanderson.com/?p=7775 and “Books Are Powerful—Which Is Probably Why Some People Try to Ban Them.” http://lratrandom.blogspot.ca/2013/09/banned-books-week-guest-post-2-cheryl.html

I think teens need to read about the issues that they or their friends are facing; they need to know that they’re not alone, that someone understands and cares, and that things get better. And often those are the books that are banned and challenged—books about abuse, about LGBT sexuality, books that deal with painful issues such as self-harm. Yet those are some of the books that can make such a positive difference in teens’ lives.

Where can we get all of your books, and in what formats are they available?

All of my books are available on Amazon.com (and .ca and .co.uk, etc), Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indigo in Canada, your local indie bookstore, and IndieBound in paper form; Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Kobo, etc. in ebook form, and STAINED and SCARS are both available now in audiobook as well. The same narrator, Emily Bauer, narrated both STAINED and SCARS and she did so beautifully; I’m excited about it! I link to some of the stores here: http://cherylrainfield.com/bookPage.php?id=1#where-to-buy

Thank you so much for joining me for another interview, Cheryl. I appreciate the chance to chat with you again about your books, and I look forward to the next ones yet to come. You've been so kind as to extend a giveaway opportunity for my blog readers, to win an ebook of HUNTED, a fantastic dystopian paranormal read, and PARALLEL VISIONS, a paranormal where the power is also the danger/risk. Both are excellent reads. Thank you very much, Cheryl! Best of luck on the launch of STAINED. Where can readers find out more or join in with the blog tour?

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Don, and for your thoughtful, in depth questions; I appreciate them!

I’m running three contests to help promote STAINED. You can enter to win ebooks, giftcards, and an ebook reader through my month-long STAINED book blog tour:   http://cherylrainfield.com/blog/index.php/2013/09/20/stained-book-blog-tour-starts-today-enter-to-win-prizes-including-an-ebook-reader/


Readers can also enter to win 1 of 5 signed hardcover copies of STAINED through my GoodReads contest: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/66342-stained

There you have it! So many opportunities to both support Cheryl and all of her amazing books, and chances for you, as her readers, to win prizes, too!

As if this wasn't enough, check out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win an eBook Copy of SCARS, a must read and celebrated banned book. The three giveaways on my blog are all from Cheryl's generosity, so please post, blog, facebook and tweet about her books, show her love and support and if you haven't read all of her books, what are you waiting for???



As part of the official STAINED month long Blog Tour Cheryl has offered readers an eBook Copy of SCARS, as well as another opportunity to post a blog comment here for one entry into the GRAND PRIZE giveaway of an eReader of your choice. More information is on Cheryl's Blog.

Also, be sure to check out PART ONE of the Author Interview and my Book Review of STAINED, both of which have giveaways to celebrate the launch of STAINED.

Now that you've gotten to know Cheryl Rainfield a bit better, I hope you'll support her and her books and share them with your friends. I love them all, and I believe our world is a better place because of writers and people like Cheryl. I'm truly honored to know her, and to support her books. What a treasure she is!
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Author Interview and GIVEAWAY: (Part One) Cheryl Rainfield on STAINED and Why She Writes

Follow Along Here and on Twitter with #STAINEDBook for your chance to win package giveaways of all of Cheryl’s Titles and even an eREADER!

I am honored to host PART ONE of a two part Author Interview with the very candid and down to earth Young Adult Author, Cheryl Rainfield. PART TWO can be found here. The last time I was so honored to speak with Cheryl about her first two books, SCARS and HUNTED, I focused on the writing process. If you didn't have a chance to read that interview yet, check it out here.

Today, I focused on Cheryl's most recent release, STAINED, and the topics Cheryl often writes about. I guess I did too good of a job with these questions, since we are dividing the interview in half, but so much of what Cheryl says is so very important, I believe it will be worthy of two posts.

Now to welcome our guest, Cheryl Rainfield!

Thank you for your incredibly thoughtful, in depth questions! I love them.

You've covered self-harm/cutting and sexual abuse in SCARS, brainwashing and prejudice in HUNTED, Domestic violence and suicide in PARALLEL VISIONS, and now kidnapping, rape and self image in STAINED. Why are these topics so important to you, and why are these the topics central to your writing?

I love that you’ve read all my books, Don, and that you know the issues I’ve covered in them! (smiling at you)

All the issues I've covered—various forms of bullying, sexual abuse, trauma, and oppression, including homophobia, and the ways we’re affected by them and cope with them—are important to me because: I’ve experienced them myself and I know how much deep pain they cause; there’s so much silence and often shame around them; and I think we need to talk about them—as individuals and as a society—to bring greater healing and hopefully to prevent further abuse and oppression from happening.

I think that when we talk about painful issues from an honest place, and when we talk about them in a way people can hear, which fiction is ideal for, we can help others who haven’t been through similar experiences really understand and come away with greater compassion, and we can help people who have gone through similar experiences to feel less alone and to know that it can and does get better. Feeling alone makes pain so much worse. I’ve always had a strong desire to break silence, and to heal and encourage healing in others. My books are my way to do that.

I felt so alone and in so much pain as a child and teen; a lot of the time I wanted to die. I never want anyone else to go through that—and so I try to help others with my books. Books helped me so much—they helped me survive the abuse and torture; I really think they saved me. So it’s an incredible, wonderful thing to help do that for others through my books. It is healing to hear from readers how much my books help them.

In STAINED, Sarah is a girl with a facial blemish, a port wine stain that covers most of her cheek, and she is obsessed by her concept of self image. For so many young girls, the media is a significant influence on such negative self concepts that are so strong, they often lead to defining a young girl's identity if allowed to go unchecked. How do these ideas impact Sarah as a main character, and why is it so important to tell Sarah's story for your readers, many of whom are young girls?

Sarah is deeply affected by the media’s definition of what beauty is and all the photo-shopped models she sees in ads—just as I think so many girls and women are, and boys now, too. Sarah becomes obsessed with looking perfect, and her desperation is increased by the bullying she receives from her peers about her port-wine stain and all the frequent negative reactions to her birthmark that she receives out in the world. I think that sometimes people don’t realize how much a stare or an unthinking comment can hurt.

Teens—and adults, too—are exposed to ads that see girls and women as only bodies or sexual beings (and boys are getting some of that treatment, too). It’s so unhealthy for us all. The ads target insecurities in girls—and boys—and show impossible standards of “perfect” beauty—instead of showing bodies the way they really are and appreciating them.

So many people struggle with negative body image—hating their bodies, wanting to be different—and the constant barrage of ads makes it worse. If you mix abuse into that, especially sexual abuse or harassment—which about 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys have been through—it’s so much worse. We’re seeing increasing numbers of eating disorders in teens—both girls and boys—and self-harm, and there is so much body hatred out there, as well as some girls thinking that their only worth is as a sexual being. It’s very disturbing. I struggle with body image issues myself as an incest and ritual abuse survivor, as a lesbian, and as a woman in this society. It’s another level of pain that people carry around—and we don’t need to. It shouldn’t be happening, all these distorted images being put out there.

I want us all to love and appreciate our bodies and feel good in them. And I think that one way to encourage that is to increase awareness of the way ads and bullying and rape can affect our body image, and try to find ways to take the positive messages in that we get, and see our own beauty and strength. So that’s a theme I explored in STAINED. I think fiction is one of the most powerful ways we have of exploring issues in a safe way, finding out we’re not alone, and healing.

In STAINED, I was thrilled to discover you've written loosely in alternating point of view. Sarah is the main character, but there are times we get to read from Nick's perspective, a boy who's heavy, and teased for his body shape. What made you decide to write in this format, and can you elaborate on the time stamp also found at the beginning of each chapter. How did your story structure affect mood, pacing, and tension?

I think having both Sarah and Nick’s perspectives helps to alleviate some of the pain from the trauma that Sarah endures, and give the reader breathing room, while still keeping up the tension of the story. It also helps fill in some of the things that Sarah doesn’t know about. And the time stamps help the reader see that more time is passing than Sarah realizes, since she only has her inner clock and the foil balls to judge time by.
I didn’t have the alternate viewpoints in early versions of STAINED; at first I only had Sarah’s perspective. Adding Nick’s viewpoint in came out of discussions with my editor, who helped me make STAINED even stronger. I’d read a few books told in alternate viewpoints that worked really well and that I’d loved, and also some that had time stamps—which I also added later in the editing process.
I think the alternate viewpoints helps readers discover more about both characters—things they might not tell us themselves or with the same perspectives. And I wanted readers to see how differently Nick saw Sarah—as beautiful and brave and strong—than she saw herself, even before she managed to escape her abductor. The way we see ourselves is not always the way others see us. I think many of us would find it helpful to hear how the people who love us really see us. Sometimes we can be our own harshest critics.

Sarah and Nick both love comics. Sarah writes story and dialogue, Nick is an artist. I was immediately reminded of THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL by the brilliant Barry Lyga. I imagine this was either a reference for STAINED, or possibly a comp (comparison) title for your initial pitch of STAINED. What other titles spring to mind for you in capturing some quality of your story, and what other comp titles did you use if any?

I haven’t read Lyga’s FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL yet (blushing) but it’s on my to-read list. I don’t usually pitch an idea to an editor or have my agent do that—I like to wait until I have a manuscript written, edited, and polished to where I think it’s publishable before I submit it. That means less stress for me. I don’t want to work under the stress of a deadline, where I might not make my work as good as I can make it because I don’t have the time or I work so crazy hard that I hurt my health. I want to feel good about my work before I submit it. 
Some authors whose work mine has been compared to, who also deal with painful issues, are Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jennifer Brown, Laura Wiess, and for STAINED I’d add April Henry with her books on abduction.

SCARS references art, and STAINED references creating comic books. Why are the arts a great vehicle for your characters as therapy for surviving so many horrific ordeals, and why do you include this in your stories? What other arts haven't you used yet, and do you have plans to incorporate other therapeutic methods for your characters in the future? What message does this send to your readers, especially those who are struggling with the issues referenced above in question 1?

I think art is a wonderful way to heal and to help us cope when things are hard—it can help us get out emotion and traumatic memories, help us say things we might not be able to aloud, help us have a voice and be heard. It can be a safe way to face or talk about things that we’re not ready to deal with in any other way yet. If we keep pain or sadness or hard things locked up inside, they only get stronger and more unbearable. Letting it out in a safe way, through art or writing or dance or some creative expression, can give necessary relief. It can also be a powerful way to talk to others about painful things. 
I’ve used art and writing to deal with trauma all my life. Sometimes when I write or create art I feel as if I’m bleeding out my pain onto the paper, canvas, clay, whatever material I’m using. Because I love art (and writing) so much and know how much they help, I have my characters use it. I think it can help us to read about a character using art as a way to cope or tell—it reminds us of positive ways of dealing with trauma or pain, ways that don’t hurt us. It can help us think—hm, maybe I can do that, too—or it can affirm for us—yes, this works, it’s healthy, it’s good for me. When you’re in really deep pain or the effects of trauma or crisis, it can be hard to remember healthy ways of coping to use. So sometimes seeing it modeled for us in books can help us remember it’s what we want to do.

There are many art forms I haven’t yet had my characters use in books. I’d like to use sculpture, photography, poetry, video, cartooning/caricatures, mosaics, stained glass work, and songwriting. Perhaps dance and theatre, too, though since I am awkward with those in my life, I’d have to learn a lot more about them before I write about them. And various forms of crafts also appeal to me for my characters, things I’ve dabbled in, such as crocheting, sewing, quilting, paper crafts, etc. In a manuscript I’m working on now, a character uses collage—layers of cut-up magazine photos—to help her face the things she’s too afraid to face. It’s an art form I used a lot when I was a teen.

You have shared some of the traumatic experiences you've drawn upon as a survivor of abuse, and how you've used these as focal or reference points to inform the truths your characters face and struggle through in your books. Why make yourself so vulnerable? Why get so personal? Why not write romance and happy stories that avoid these tougher, harsher, more gritty of topics and issues? Why is this so important for you?

I felt so alone and in so much pain as a child and teen being abused and tortured, and bullied at school, and growing up queer. I often wanted to die and thought seriously about suicide, even attempted it. My pain was made so much worse thinking I was the only one who’d been through those experiences. Books were my safety, and they helped me know in small ways that I wasn’t alone—but I still always searched for that knowledge that I wasn’t the only one who’d been through those things or felt that way. I think there are teens (and adults) now who are desperate for books that let them know that they’re not alone in their pain or the harsh realities they’re living in—that someone else really, truly understands on a deep gut level—and that they can get through it. 
I want to help ease pain and heartache and that feeling of aloneness for others in the way I can most effectively and powerfully—through my books and the honesty and compassion in them. And I want people who haven’t been through some of the things we’ve been through to have a little more compassion.
Books save lives. I know that from my own experience—if I hadn’t had books that helped me know that others felt unloved or were bullied or abused, and also books that helped me escape that life, I’m not sure I could have survived. And I know that from the reader letters I get, telling me that they felt like I was writing their story, or that after reading my book they talked to someone for the first time about their experiences, or stopped hurting themselves, or it helped them not kill themselves. We need both realistic fiction and fantasy, hard-hitting books that open darkness up to the light, and light-hearted books that bring laughter. There’s room for them all. I write what I need to write—for myself and for others. 

My abuse experience and my determination to make positive, healing difference in the world drive me to write the books I do. I’ve been through such extreme abuse and torture, and my abusers tried to silence me so frequently with threats of death and with torture and mind control, that I have such a strong need to speak out, to break silence, to let others know they’re not alone, to have the world be a kinder place than the one I’ve known for most of my life. 
I think talking about trauma or painful experiences from an honest, personal level helps others connect more—helps them really feel and understand. And when people understand, there’s greater compassion—for themselves or for others. I want readers to know that if they’ve been through some of the same or similar things to Sarah in the book or to me that they can get safe if they’re not already, they can heal, they can find happiness and it will get better. So much better. 
And I want people who haven’t been through any of those things to be moved—to know that yes, these things really happen and they may even know someone it happened to. Sexual abuse, rape, abduction, bullying—they’re not just headlines in the news (which we know happen but can feel very removed). I think if readers love a book, they also connect to the author, and when they find out that I’ve drawn on my own trauma to write the book, it makes it a little more real for them. Makes them more aware. Maybe they’ll have a little more compassion for a survivor they know. Maybe they’ll notice the silent screaming of a child or teen or woman being abused and try to help. Maybe they’ll just be a little bit kinder in the world, or a little more grateful for the good they have.
I think books are really powerful ways to help increase empathy and compassion, encourage greater awareness and healing, all in an enjoyable way—through story. With books, we can get inside another person’s experience and soul and really feel what something’s like. And I want people to feel and to care. That’s why I write the books I do.

I've seen your website, and one of my favorite quotes of yours is, "I write the books I needed as a teen and couldn't find." Could you elaborate on this quote?

Abused teens, teens who are going through trauma or oppression, often don’t have people who will talk openly about the things they’re going through, or offer them safety. People don’t like to talk about painful things—but that leaves those of us in pain feeling even more alone. Sometimes the only place a teen can turn to is books. That was true for me. I was always looking in books for ways to know that I wasn’t alone—that I wasn’t the only one being raped by my parents, or tortured, that I wasn’t the only one who loved another girl, or cut to cope with the trauma of being abused. I found small bits of validation of my experiences, mostly on an emotional level, like the bullying in Blubber or the life and death experiences a lot of the characters face in Dick Francis’ books—but I never found enough that spoke to me about my own experiences, that told me I wasn’t the only one being abused and tortured, or the only one who coped by cutting myself, that I wasn’t crazy the way my abusers said I was, and that loving another girl was a positive thing. And feeling alone made the pain so much worse. 
So now I write the books I couldn’t find as a teen. I address a few of the things I’ve been through in every book, the things I needed to read about—usually trauma based—and I try to put queer characters in every book, whether they are the main character or secondary characters. I think it’s so important to see ourselves reflected back in positive ways. 
In a way I’m writing for the abused teen I was. But I’m also writing for survivors and queer teens, and people who know pain and trauma, who need to know they’re not alone. And I’m writing for the people who love and support us—and for the people who don’t yet understand but might want to. And always, always, I try to tell a gripping story that grabs readers’ interests and hearts.

In STAINED, Sarah is abducted by someone known. I found this so true to what often occurs regarding a kidnapping. In fact, without giving anything away, you and I had a conversation as I was reading where I knew who the kidnapper was before he was revealed. As a sexual abuse survivor myself, I felt a kind of preternatural instinct to identifying him early, and I was rewarded as a reader when I was right. In many ways, I identified strongly with Sarah, and I understood her struggles. As an abuse survivor yourself, what have you learned that Sarah needed to learn to break free of your abuse history?

That’s a good point, Don—that often people who abduct—and who abuse—are people who we know, family or friends of the family, or an adult who is in a power position who we see often.

Like Sarah, I needed many things to escape the abuse and get safe. I needed to trust my gut instincts (and my memories). I needed to learn to love myself, to treat myself gently, to stop hurting myself, hating myself, and blaming myself for what my abusers did. I needed to stop internalizing the voices of my abusers, and to address those messages when they came up. I needed to find safe ways to tell others about the abuse and to get out the pain. I needed to trust and accept the help and support of people who truly loved me or who had compassion, and I needed to take in and try to believe the good things they said about me.
Like Sarah, I had to protect my soul and who I really was inside and not let my abusers twist me. And I needed to learn that I had to be the one to save myself. That might be one of the biggest things I had to learn. How I longed for someone to save me! But like Sarah, no one else did. I had to be the one to find a way to save myself, over and over, until I was truly safe. I had to follow my own courage and strength, and my own wisdom. I had to be dogged, like Sarah, in fighting back and trying to escape. I had to never give up. And I had to allow some part of me to believe that I would get safe and things would get better, even when it seemed they never could—just the way Sarah somehow believed.


As part of the official STAINED month long Blog Tour Cheryl has offered readers an eBook Copy of HUNTED, as well as another opportunity to post a blog comment here for one entry into the GRAND PRIZE giveaway of an eReader of your choice. More information is on Cheryl's Blog.

Also, be sure to come back here to catch PART TWO of Cheryl's interview. It's going to be epic!

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