How is it already December? This year, which has been both wonderful and horrible (more on both later) is nearly over and that seems impossible. So here’s some updates:
Ghost Girl is 4 months old! Which is really incredible because it feels like Zee and her friends have been running around the woods, trying to stop Principal Scratch for way longer than that! If you’ve read it and you want to give me a little holiday gift, a review on Goodreads or Amazon would mean everything to me.
This Appearing House galleys have arrived! I’ve put together a giveaway over on twitter (US only, I’m sorry!) if you want to try to win one of three copies. Ends December 11th so hurry! In the meantime you can add it on Goodreads or if you really want to make my day/week/month/year/life you can pre-order it.
Also there was a bit of industry good news! The Horror Writers Association has added a middle grade category to the Stoker Award. This is very cool because middle grade horror writers are the ones that get kids hooked on horror and also the ones that help turn out the next generation of horror writers. To paraphrase Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, without the people who write children’s literature there can’t be the capital L Literature writers. So it’s wonderful that HWA has made this addition and I can’t wait to see who the first nominees for 2022 will be.
Also, I finished a NEW spooky book! But that’s still a big secret so we can’t talk about that part.
What we can talk about is all the great (and not so great) things that happened this year. Since it’s the end of the year everyone is putting together end of the year lists and I’ve seen a lot of my writer friends celebrating their accomplishments which fills my heart with joy and I’ve also seen a lot of my writer friends sad that their book babies aren’t included. To that, I say this: Awards are great. Lists are great. But if you don’t get included just remember that somewhere a kid loves your book more than any other book in the world. And that is the greatest prize. That’s why we do what we do.
How do I know? Oh, just a feeling
Pretty cool huh? Also, one of the other wonderful things that happened, aside from class visits, seeing Ghost Girl used as a comp for a pitch contest and signing store copies, were the lovely thank you cards that I got from kids from class visits.
My heart! This year in so many ways has been a really beautiful time and putting Ghost Girl into the world was at the center of that.
But….you knew there was going to be a but didn’t you? This has also been the hardest year of my life. I’ve had some health stuff and I also had to say goodbye to the kindest most wonderful person I have ever known.
My dad, Big Ron.
I haven’t felt ready to talk about it on here but I didn’t want the year to end without giving you all a chance to know a little bit about him. I will always be thankful that I was there, to hold his hand, and make him laugh. To tell him that I won the Dad Lottery and that I love him, and to hear him say, “I love you, more.”
I wrote this thing for him – his story – and if you have a moment to read it, it would mean so much to me to know that a little bit of him would be remembered by you. If you don’t, then the most important part to know is this:
These are some of the stories about Ron Malinenko. And they matter because truthfully all we are in the end are the stories people tell about us. And these are good stories. But still Ron had something else.
Because more than anything Ron was kind.
Kindness isn’t the same as being nice. Nice is easy. Nice is polite. It’s passive. Kindness is an act of generosity. It is layered and complex and most of all it is intentional. You choose kindness. Kindness can also be messy. It makes you vulnerable. Ron knew that the secret to kindness was that being vulnerable allowed you to love more deeply and more honestly. It made you a better father. A better husband. A better brother. A better grandfather. A better friend. He also knew that kindness meant honesty and honesty was sometimes the harder choice. But he still made it. Every time.
At the end of every life, when the people gather and the stories are shared, and the tears are shed, and the laughter becomes a balm, something powerful is left behind. Something is forged out of those stories. Something like a legacy. Something that distills the essence of a person down to one or two truly defining things.
Ron’s defining thing, the thing that is left behind and never leaves, was his kindness. Kindness towards his family and friends of course, but also toward strangers. Kindness in the way he spoke, the way he moved and the choices he made. He made the world a better place for everyone that had the privilege to know him. And, in the end, one is hard-pressed to think of a better legacy than that.”
So, my friends, my wish for you as we close out this year and open a new one is this:
Be like Big Ron. Be kind.
Peace, love, and starbursts,