Top 3, Age 5

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October is National Hispanic Heritage Month. October is also National Anti-Bullying Month. (It's also my 13th wedding anniversary, which makes me think about love and family and also one of my favorite dress-up excuses, Halloween.) Basically, I'm *all* about October! And I happen to have my name on two books that celebrate these things; things that I'm passionate about and proud to offer the universe.

It's been a strange trip from my first dreams of being a writer (age 5 or so) to the reality of being "here" and while being a published author was my #1 dream, I really had a Top 3: 1) to marry and have children, 2) to be a published author, and 3) to tell more people than I would ever meet personally in my lifetime that "it's okay"--I have been teased by loving friends and family that all I really want to do is give the world a big hug, which is sort of true. (Be warned should you ever meet me in person: I'm a hugger.) I have deeply personal reasons for all these things, but the truth is that all of them are anchored in a 5-year old's heart.

I love my family, deeply and truly, and I was raised with the kind of hippie-sensibilities that believed in such things as Peace, Love, Togetherness, and Trust and meant it, sans irony. In well-to-do suburbia in the 1980's, this was rather out-of-sync. I may have been ignorant or naive, but it astounded me that so many people around me were so miserable and upset, both kids on welfare and kids of privilege, from safe homes and dysfunctional homes, kids who had everything going for them were puking up their lives in bathrooms and kids who had to fight for every scrap along the way were drinking and driving into trees; and underneath it all, everyone was obsessed with the same basic question: "Am I Lovable?" (or iterations "Do You Love Me?", "Am I Worth It?" or "Will You Leave Me If You Knew [X]?" which all amount to the same thing, really.) Since I couldn't understand, it became the thing I most wanted to understand. I studied sex and gender, anthropology and art, literature and history and human psychology; I traveled abroad and volunteered, asked questions and conducted interviews, wrote dissertations and spoke out and marched. And, eventually, I returned to pen and paper (or keyboard and ink) and put the passion there...

...but I never thought it would lead to a book about a girl with great body image (despite not always having a body) and turning a tale about a real "dickie" into something that someone else could find comforting. And you know what? I'm proud of my 5-year old, hippie-hearted self.

LUMINOUS features a Latina-American superheroine who saves people from dying before their time and whose love for her family drives her to find a way home. DEAR BULLY is an anthology with 70 Young Adult authors telling their stories about bullies, bullying, and being bullied and I was humbled an honored to be included, telling my story of what it was like to be bullied for 13 years for being, well, tall. (My next novel, INDELIBLE, will be coming out in 2013 and has nothing to do with any of this, but I digress.)

As an artist--heck, as anyone--it's hard to self-promote. It's hard to say "I'm good" and not sound like bragging. It's hard to toot your horn and not make someone else wince. But there are many things I'm proud of doing, having, saying or having done. And these stories about a Latina-American superheroine and about being bullied are two things that I can point to and smile and say, "I did this." I'm proud of them. I'm proud of me. And I did exactly what I set out to do, age 5.

* * *

As for my #1 goal, I'll be celebrating 13 years of marriage with my loving husband on Tuesday. Happy Anniversary, Honey!

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