I recently did an interview for the website, Tourette's Podcast. My portion of the interview starts at 31:00 minutes. We talk about my novel, DIFFERENT, and how I came about writing it. It was a privilege to do the interview. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Thank you "Unleashing Reader" for giving me the opportunity to write a blog for you about Understand Kids Who Are Different. Please click on this link to go to their website (or copy and paste). http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1743.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
DIFFERENT has been officially released today! It is available not only on the publishers website:
and on Amazon.com:
Barnes and Noble,
DIFFERENT has been endorsed by The Tourette Association of America and by the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation. Here is what they had to say:
“Being able to see the world through the eyes of someone with Tourette Syndrome is often difficult. Day in and day out we hear from families struggling with Tourette and everything that comes with it: bullying, ostracization, and intolerance. But we also hear stories of strength, bravery, and kindness. I applaud Different for bringing light to this misunderstood neurological condition and personifying the challenges our community overcomes while educating and encouraging compassion. The author does a great job of showing that the term ‘different’ can be used in many ways, and not just as a negative connotation.”
President and CEO, Tourette Association of America
“Growing up, I never wanted to be ‘different.’ But then I realized that was just me. I learned early in life that being ‘different’ wasn’t always a bad thing, it was just my new normal. The book Different helps others embrace their own challenges in hopes that everyone can be a better person in the long run. Living with Tourette Syndrome is never easy, but knowing others around you understand where you’re coming from sure makes life a lot easier to manage. Different reminds us all to embrace our challenges and celebrate the ways we are all ‘different.’”
Educator, Author, Speaker, and President of the Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation
Very exciting times for me. Hope you all get a chance to read about a young girl who overcomes the challenges of living with Tourette Syndrome and comes to the conclusion that we're all "different" in a way.
Monday, August 13, 2018
So excited to share! The release date for DIFFERENT is September 13, 2018. It's been a long time in coming. I started writing this book about four years ago, but it was a decade and a half in the making. The subject matter, a child dealing with the challenges of Tourette Syndrome, is very personal to me. I needed distance and time to be far enough away from the emotion of the subject to be objective about it.
My dream is that teachers and families can use the novel as a means of explaining and understanding what Tourette Syndrome is all about while enjoying the story of an atypical child going through typical adolescent angst.
Thank you to all the people in my life who helped make this book a reality. You know who you are. You are in my heart and prayers.
If you are interesting on more information on DIFFERENT, you can find it at https://absolutelovepublishing.com/different/ or on my Facebook page Janet McLaughlin, author.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
The other day I spent time with two close family members, both suffering with anxiety. Neither could pinpoint the reason they were so stressed. One was new to the feeling; one has dealt with it most of her life. I'm going to refer to the second one as Izzy, the name I gave to the protagonist in my soon-to-be-released Middle Grade novel, DIFFERENT.
Izzy was diagnose with Tourette Syndrome when she was five years old. I watched as she struggled with both physical and vocal tics. They were the outward signs of this neurological condition and she was extremely embarrassed by them. But the hidden issues—the Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and on occasion the onset of uncontrollable rage—all of which came under the umbrella of TS—were not so visible.
My heart ached for this child as I watched her grow. My first impulse, as a novelist, was to write a book about this devastating disorder and how it affects the child and the family. But I was too close. It hurt too much. I needed distance. I waited more than a decade before I felt emotional capable of putting words on paper. It took several years after that to complete the novel.
My hope is that DIFFERENT will help families, teachers, and the public in general to understand what life is like living with TS. That the disorder is so much more than its physical manifestations. That there is a real person that feels deep pain with every unfriendly/judgmental glance that his or her movements and sounds elicit.
Izzy's handling of her disorder has taught me empathy. Her presence in my life has brought me great joy. My greatest wish is that I've done justice to her and all those afflicted with TS and it's associated disorders. I am humbled by their bravery.
For more information about the novel DIFFERENT or to pre-order, visit https://absolutelovepublishing.com/shop/. https://absolutelovepublishing.com/shop/
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
First published with EasternPennPoints, The Official Blog of the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of SCBWI
Today, we’re so happy to host author Janet McLaughlin! Janet is the author of the Soul Sight Mysteries series, including Haunted Echo and Fireworks, and a longtime SCBWI member. She’s here today to lend you some inspiration and courage as you kick off a new writing year!
About fifteen years ago, I met a brilliant, German-born biochemist. At the time, I was editing and publishing three local magazines with my husband. I suppose the biochemist thought that if I could edit a magazine I could edit his book. When he told me it was about getting and staying healthy, I was intrigued. I said yes.
If a foreign-born biochemist asks you to edit a book, be forewarned — it’s going to take a long time. Not only is the terminology going to be challenging, so is the syntax. Sentences are structured differently in different languages. So, throughout the book, I was changing “Throw Mama from the train a kiss” to “Throw a kiss to Mama as you leave on the train,” figuratively speaking.
That experience, which took almost nine months to complete, gave me the courage to explore the possibility of writing my own book. But what kind of book did I want to write? To decide, I took an inventory of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
My strengths: I’d been an avid reader all my life, so I intrinsically understood the structure of a novel. I had a logical mind and loved mysteries. I’d been drawn to the paranormal all my adult life, as well. And, in my capacity as editor of our magazines, I had met and interviewed several psychics, or intuitives as they prefer to be called. I knew I wanted to write for children. I had direction.
My weaknesses: I’d never written anything longer than an essay or article. Did I have the talent to write a novel? Did I have the discipline to finish one? The answers to both were self-evident; I’d never know unless I tried.
Before I began, I searched the internet for help and advice. That’s when I stumbled upon the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. What a find! I’m not sure what would have happened to my writing career had I not had the help of the many people I met there, but I doubt my publisher, Absolute Love Publishing, would be waiting for me to finish the third book in my Soul Sight Mysteries series.
The journey hasn’t been an easy one, though. I could paper my walls with the rejections I got. The early ones were especially well deserved. In those days, despite what I was learning from the SCBWI conferences I was attending, I still sent my manuscripts out too early. But that’s okay. Every rejection was a lesson. Every rewrite was a mini-college course in writing.
I have had the privilege of being a member of two SCBWI critique groups over the past 15 years. The first group consisted of women who were mostly at my level — struggling newbies sharing the tidbits of knowledge we gleaned from our own experiences. It lasted years, but there was one woman who was the soul of the group. She passed away suddenly and the group, bereft of spirit, gradually fell apart.
After that, I joined an SCBWI online group. I hadn’t realized at the time that it consisted of women writing historical novels. It wasn’t the right fit for me, but I did meet a kindred soul, and we stayed in touch and critiqued each other’s work online. When we discovered we lived only an hour apart, we met mid-way for lunch and talked for hours. She belonged to a critique group that was breaking up and asked me if I wanted to join a new one that was forming. I’m so glad I said yes. This association with five talented, exceptional writers who don’t mind traveling an hour each way has helped me grow in my craft and has blessed me exponentially.
My online-friend-turned-critique-partner is Augusta Scattergood, author of the fabulous book Glory Be. She was still a struggling writer when I first met her. Knowing Augusta as well as I do, I know she’d say today that she’s still a struggling writer.
Which brings me to my point: When is enough, enough? How long do you continue to struggle, sending out queries, anxiously waiting for answers, knowing in your heart that even if you get an answer it will be a “thanks, but no thanks”? When is one more rejection one too many?
The answer to these questions may be in the asking of new ones. Why are you writing? Is it a chore or a joy? Yes, you’d like to see your name in print on the cover of a beautiful book jacket — I get that. But if it doesn’t happen or hasn’t happened yet, do you quit? Or do you keep on writing, getting better and better with each rewrite, each workshop, each critique (and if you can afford it, each professional edit)?
My advice is to never give up the creative activity of writing, whether you’re the only one who reads your work or it goes out to millions. The real joy is in the creating. If you have children or grandchildren who love to read, well, there’s no better audience than that. And if you’re fortunate enough to find an agent or publisher who “gets” your work, then you can dream about the other children who read your work and get a few hours of freedom from the world of technology. Better still, you might even have a positive impact on a child’s life. Is there any better reason for staying the course? I don’t think so. Do you?
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Thank you Kirby for the opportunity to share my thoughts, books, and—well—life with your wonderful followers. We writers don’t always get a chance to talk about our craft, and when we do it’s like exhaling a breath we’ve been holding onto for a while. It’s a relief and a pleasure.
I started my writing career as a publisher/editor of small local magazines. As rewarding as that was, there seemed to be something missing. Twenty years later, I found what I was looking for—writing fiction. Not just any kind of fiction. Mysteries and the paranormal was what I really wanted to write. And it had to be for kids, not adults. Because, not only are kids cool, but all the psychics (or intuitives as they prefer to be called) that I’d interviewed over the years had major issues dealing with their gifts when they were kids. They pretty much wanted them to go away. They just wanted to be normal. And so, the Zoey Christopher mystery series was born.
Zoey is a typical teenager with one exception—she often has visions. Sometimes visions from the past, and sometimes visions of disastrous events before they happen. As much as she’d like to ignore these visions, she feels obliged to do whatever she can to change things for the better.
In Haunted Echo, the first book of the series, Zoey is on vacation on a Caribbean Island with her best friend, Becca, when she encounters a ghost—a former slave who lived in the mid 1800s. Tempe, the young slave-ghost asks Zoey to help her. Zoey’s visions of past events help Tempe understand what happened to her and why she seems stuck in the earthly realm. I based this fictional story on some of the experiences of an intuitive friend that I’d interviewed.
In Fireworks, the newly released second book of the series, Zoey’s visions tell her that her best friend is in trouble. But when she calls, Becca is fine. It isn’t until Becca disappears that Zoey realizes that she’s been kidnapped and it’s up to her to save Becca—with the help of Dan, the new guy who has the gift of seeing auras. Dan’s character is based on a young teen I’d interviewed who had this gift. He hated being different and tried his best to keep this a secret from his peers, making him somewhat of a loner. Dan would probably have suffered the same fate if he hadn’t met Zoey. Ah, yes. Young love prevails. I’m not sure I could write a novel that doesn’t have at least a hint of romance in it!
When I write I keep two objectives in mind. The first is to entertain. Kids today have too many outlets (i.e. social media) to give any book their attention unless they find it entertaining. I’ve found through school visits and feedback from my readers that ghosts and visions keep their interest. Secondly, if just one gifted child’s life is made easier because of my series, all the time and effort put into writing them would be more than rewarding.
Writing is a joy for me, as it is for my many writer friends, especially the ones in my critique group. I am so grateful for them and for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). If any aspiring writers of children’s literature is reading this blog, I can’t express strongly enough the benefits of joining this society and of finding a group of writers that you can share your work with. The rewards are in the sharing, not only with your readers, but with your writing peers. Best of luck to all of you.
Original post can be found at: http://www.kirbylarson.com/friend-friday-125/