Thoughts & Favorites

{I love beautiful sentences with a touch of magic. Oh, and carbs.}

Dear Kiddos

Dear Kiddos:

Sometimes I am scared for all the bad things that happen in the world.

When you were born I held you, already feeling anxious about how to protect your precious hearts from every hurt. But this is not what I hope for you anymore.

First of all, because it's not realistic.

But more importantly, because it's not to your benefit to be shielded from every trial.

So instead I'll pray for you to only face the challenges and heartaches that will build your character or teach you endurance, perseverance, and empathy. These areas are muscles that need to be broken down and rebuilt over the years.

And my sweet ones, you will need muscle in these areas if you are going to make it in life.

I want to teach you to be gracious with others. Do not look for opportunities to take offense. Instead be quick to give others the benefit of the doubt. You can be generous to people with more than just money.

I never want you to be afraid of the truth. You can believe in God without being afraid of science, archaeology, history, and your own doubts. Don't be afraid of listening to someone you don't agree with. Genuinely seek out the best and brightest of both sides of an argument. Don't cheat yourself or your intelligence by settling for something less than that.

Be happy for other people--even, especially--when they are getting the things you want. Things will come around for you. And then others will want to celebrate with you when it's your time. (Also, this means more time celebrating and less time moping around like Eeyore.)

On the flipside: mourn with those who mourn. Grieve with them. Share their sorrows and shoulder their burdens. This will also come back around. Because life is beautiful, and sometimes it's excruciating.

Work hard and with integrity. Your work reputation matters. Honor your bosses and your coworkers by working hard and with a good attitude. Do this for the ones who deserve it, and even the ones who don't. But always remember that your work is not your value. It is not your identity. It's not showing up to pay its respects at your funeral.

Everyone worships something. Good things can become idols. People will tell you to do whatever makes you the most happy. But I want to teach you that a life poured out for others is a life well-spent, and making personal happiness your number one goal is the fastest way to make sure you don't get it. "Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product. Paradoxically, the one sure way not to be happy is deliberately to map out a way of life in which one would please oneself completely and exclusively." - Eleanor Roosevelt

A few more things:

I'm going to tell you "no" about things and set boundaries for you. You're going to wish I said yes to everything you want. You will know some parents who are doing that for their kids and you might wish they were yours. But I'll be patient and some day you'll see that sometimes saying no actually means "I love you." God is like this, too.

Every time you reduce a complicated political, religious, or moral issue into a snarky GIF, a baby kitten dies.

Don't put any human being up on a pedestal. Not sports stars, political figures, celebrities, pastors, charity workers, reality TV families. Not me or your dad. We are human. We will screw up and disappoint you. Don't be disillusioned. No one is without sin, not one. This is why we need a savior. This is why Abraham, David, Moses, Peter, and many other "heroes" of the faith have their biggest screw ups decades after they have been walking with God. You will always need grace, every single day of your precious little lives.

When you screw up in bigger ways, others may laugh at you or scorn you. There will be consequences. But I will be there. And I believe these moments are maybe more important even than your highest successes. This is how you will learn about grace and mercy and unconditional love. This is how you will learn most about God. Those who have been forgiven much, love much.

I believe Truth is a Person and I hope you grow to meet and trust and love him personally. But in the end it can only be your choice, not mine. It will involve the daily sacrifice of yourself, but so does every relationship worth anything at all. The best things are often the hardest things. I can promise you this is the best one of them all.

Seek after integrity. Be hopeful without being naïve and wise without being cynical. Be generous with your money, time, talents, and words of encouragement. "The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free." - Robert Brault

Finally, I hope you get my teeth and love of reading, and your dad's vision and math skills. If these get reversed, I'm so sorry, but you're screwed.

I love you. I'm for you. Let's laugh and dance a lot, be quick to hug and make up, and always show each other--and those all around us--a staggering amount of grace.

Love,

Mom

Mini-Launch for The Disappearances with Bay Area Bloggers

A few weekends ago, I had the treat of my life.

I'm going to be leaving San Francisco the week before The Disappearances is published, so an incredible group of Bay Area book bloggers decided to get together and throw me a mini-launch party before I go.  I will never forget this night! 

Christy and Nancy, the most generous and amazing bloggers behind the Tales of the Ravenous Reader blog, planned a night at Petroglyph in San Jose for snacks, books, and painting pottery.

Check out the slideshow below for some pics! A special thanks to HMH and my publicist, Michelle, for providing the ARCs!

The bloggers and book friends in attendance--please give their links some love and follows! You want these people in your life! ;) 

Christy from Tales of the Ravenous Reader

Nancy from Tales of the Ravenous Reader

Joss from TealReader 

Enna from Books, Blogs, and Boys! 

Alicia, Nicole, and Megan

Fellow authors, when you are in the area, make sure you get a chance to meet this group and film an interview with Nancy and Christy.  

One of my very favorite things about the night was Nancy's surprise Disappearances-themed "disappearing" mocktail. If you click through the Instagram post below you can see it on the last slide. It was SO clever--and it tasted good, too. (Maybe if we are lucky she will share the recipe with us...) 

And check out the plate Joss painted and all of the girls signed. It turned out SO well!

What can I even say? The Bay Area is known for its unbelievable book community. Between the local authors, booksellers, and bloggers I met this year, I was so incredibly blessed by my time here. Thank you for your kindness--I will miss you all and can't wait for an opportunity to come back and visit some day! 

Authors on The Disappearances: Stars

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In my YA fantasy debut THE DISAPPEARANCES, sixteen-year-old Aila Quinn is sent to live in a mysterious town called Sterling after the death of her mother during WWII. In Sterling, the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years. THE DISAPPEARANCES hits shelves on July 4, and in the weeks leading up to publication I’ve asked some of my author friends to weigh in on the elements they’d miss most if they lived in the story.

Disappearance Post 2: Stars

Where have you seen the most beautiful stars? 

"I grew up in a tiny town of 700 people. At the end of the street, just three houses down, was a field of cows, and if you stood beside it, you could see a total of twelve silos on four farms. In other words, farmland was all around, and city lights were far away. At night, I would lie on our trampoline in our big backyard and stare up at a sky positively shimmering with stars. I could find some "real" constellations, like Gemini and Orion, but I preferred to make up my own, like The Dragonfly.” – Anna Priemaza, KAT AND MEG CONQUER THE WORLD

“Oh my goodness, I’ve never seen so many stars as I did last year on top of the Haleakala volcano in Maui, Hawaii. We had to wake up at 2:00 AM to drive to the top before sunrise, but it was so worth it. The high elevation and low light pollution makes for epic stargazing.” – Kristin L. Gray, VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE

“Oddly enough, I was just thinking about how I adore the picture of stars on the last page of Goodnight Moon, a book that I've been reading to my daughter lately. Outside of that? I remember looking at the Southern Cross one night on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Australia. That was a pretty stunning view.” – Tara Goedjen, THE BREATHLESS

“In the desert outside of Timbuktu.” – Leah Henderson, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL

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“I grew up in a small town in Idaho, where we could see a sky full of stars every night. It was beautiful and one of the best parts about living there.” Breeana Shields, POISON’S KISS and POISON’S CAGE

“I’d been studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. On the way home from a rugby game, my friends and I were so blown away by the night sky that we pulled to the side of the road, got out of the car, and craned our necks all the way back. It never got that dark at home, and standing there in the middle of nowhere without tree cover or a speck of light pollution, the sky had never felt more infinite.” – Tracey Neithercott, GRAY WOLF ISLAND

“At a farm in Diriyyah in Riyadh.” – Tanaz Bhathena, A GIRL LIKE THAT

“In Sonoma, California, on my aunt and uncle's fruit farm. The sky is often clear and the stars are so bright.” – Sonia Belasco, SPEAK OF ME AS I AM

“There's a beach in Seacrest, FL, on the panhandle along the Gulf Coast. Never seen so many stars in my life. #nolightpollution” – Nic Stone, DEAR MARTIN

 “When I was younger, my dad's side of the family always had a summer reunion in Star Valley, Wyoming. There wasn't much to do there--no TV, no phone or cell service--but at night, the sky came alive and we saw more stars than I had ever imagined existed. My uncle was a scientist who worked at NASA, and when we'd listen, he'd point out constellations, planets, and occasional shooting stars. I always tried to find them when I got home in my own backyard, but it wasn't the same.” – Katie A. Nelson, THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP

“I backpacked through Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii island once. The stars there were unbeatable.” – Misa Sugiura, IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET

“During the day, the emptiness of the Mojave Desert can be a bit scary. At night, the lack of civilization makes for the very best star gazing.” – Chelsea Sedoti, THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT and AS YOU WISH

“On the edge of Hudson Bay in Canada. It was the darkest I've ever seen the sky and the brightest I've ever seen the stars.” – Dave Connis, THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM and SUGGESTED READING

“My family loves to go camping near Capitol Reef National Park, in UT. I love how bright and close the stars seem, miles away from the closest town.” – Rosalyn Eves, BLOODROSE REBELLION

"A few years ago, I visited Puerto Rico and saw the most brilliant stars -- like sugar spilled across the sky -- off a ship out in the middle of the ocean. They may have even inspired a scene in my book . . ." - Jessica Taylor, A MAP FOR WRECKED GIRLS

My answer: without question, it was the stars above the Alps in Interlachen, Switzerland. My friend and I took a cable car straight up the mountain, where we were each given a single glow stick to wear around our necks, a plastic toboggan, and told “See you at the bottom!” I have never seen anything like that night. I wish I could go back there and see it again, even though I was convinced I was going to fly right off the mountain and die. Totally worth it for those stars—and the cheese fondue that was waiting at the finish. ;) 

Want to read more author answers? You can find Post One about disappearing scents here.

Watch for another post next week, and tell me *your* answer in a tweet @ me (@ebain) or below in the comments!