Archive for the ‘Community’ Category
Not too long ago, my husband mentioned that a friend and colleague, Kevin Dalvi, had written and directed a movie and we were invited to the red carpet premier in NYC. Of course, there is nothing about this that doesn’t sound interesting to me. I love movies, red carpets and supporting underdog artists trying to put their vision out in to the world. I am so glad I went to see PROMISE LAND, a NEQUA Studios Production, because I really, really connected with the movie and it’s artists. Here’s a little bit about PROMISE LAND…
PROMISE LAND is relevant, heart wrenching, funny and hopeful. I know my sphere of influence is very limited, but I would really like to do something to help this film get the attention it deserves. So, there will be a contest!!!!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And here are some pics from the PROMISE LAND Premier…
If you get the chance to see PROMISED LAND on it’s Summer Tour, I highly encourage it. It was a wonderful movie!!!! A list of summer screening dates and information on how to buy tickets is available HERE. Information on how to turn your blog post comment into contest entries is available above with rafflecopter. Thanks so much for spreading the word. It really means a lot to me. Kevin Dalvi may not realize it, but he has all the makings of one of John Green’s Nerdfighters! *fist pump*
Once upon a time, I was telling a friend how mad I was at another person. Just steamed. I relayed how, in light of the situation, I would no longer be sharing my magazines with said person. My friend gasped and said, “Wow! You must have been really pissed if you took away someone’s reading material.” And I had to laugh, because it was true. Even funnier, I have no idea if that person even gave a hoot, but it made me feel a whole lot better because I took away one of the things I value most in the world. Words.
But, if I flip that scenario, you’ll see that words are my gift. If you get a book from me–if I’m sharing my reading material–I’m telling you I really love you, whether you realize it or not. It’s my way of saying you matter to me.
So, today I’d like to share with you a program called BOOKS FOR BOSTON. A way for us word people to hug the hell out of Boston. My friend AC Gaughen, the author of SCARLET is a Boston girl and I’d like to share her words with you…
BOOKS FOR BOSTON
I hardly know where to begin. I wasn’t at the marathon, but friends were. Family. Loved ones. Everyone made it through unscathed.
The manhunt happened disturbingly close to me, but again, no one I know was hurt.
That doesn’t mean that my city has made it through unscathed. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a tremendous amount of work and healing to be done.
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what my place is in all of this. Should I donate money to the One Fund? Should I be contributing to charity auctions? Should I find a role for the non-profit I work with to play in all of this?
Those are all amazing answers, and I commend the people who want to help via those routes. But I remember being a senior in high school as the Twin Towers were hit, and I remember what it felt like to be old enough to understand and young enough to feel utterly lost, to feel all my security gone, to feel any semblance of faith in the world torn away from me.
The Boston Marathon is a family event, and the amount of small children that saw this and were impacted by this is unimaginable. By now most of us have heard about Martin Richards, an eight year old boy that died in the blasts. His family are deeply in need of support and healing, and I know the One Fund will make great strides in helping them.
But for his friends, his classmates, his community, I can only imagine what it feels like to explain this to a child. To have to talk to a child about what terror really means.
I think there’s something else I can do. And maybe it’s simplistic, and maybe it’s not, but it’s the one thing that felt like an honest, organic choice to me. And that’s books.
I can’t give the children of Boston their safety or their faith back. But I can give them a place to escape, and imagine, and dream again, because that’s what books always have been and always will be. They are a beautiful and sacred space of healing and love.
And I’m hoping you’ll help me.
I’m going to donate as many books as I can to the Boston Public Library and to Martin Richard’s school, Neighborhood House Charter School. Any books! Right now I plan to give middle grade books and younger to NHCS and YA and older to the Boston Public Library, so all books are welcome. All subjects are welcome.
If you’re an author, and would like to donate a copy of your book, please sign it and instead of your usual inscription, write a message of hope, courage, or resilience. Please don’t mention the attack, or the losses, or the scars Boston now bears.
If you’re not an author but would like to donate a book, I absolutely welcome the donation. Please do the same and write a message of hope, courage, or resilience inside the book.
Please email me at acgaughen @ gmail.com and I’ll give you my address for mailing.
Maybe we can help Boston heal in a really small way. I appreciate the help, and I would really appreciate it if you pass this along.
Much love xx
I believe that…
Sometimes I speak too much.
I want to say so many things right now, but I often talk myself to distraction.
And maybe there are days it is better to be silent.
Quiet strength and support amidst fear and anger that wants to rise up and make me hate.
But the one thing you can’t make me do–is be you.
Perhaps you can feel my love.
And maybe I will kill you with my kindness, because love is stronger than hate.
I believe that.
This Sunday 4/14/13 I’ll be at the Red Hook READ LOCAL LITERARY FESTIVAL!!!! (Click the link for the full schedule)
Lots of great activities all weekend long–but I’ll be speaking and signing on Sunday afternoon with two other amazing authors…
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.: Hudson Valley YA Society
Panel featuring Maya Gold (Spellbinding), Jennifer Donnelly (Revolution) & Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface)
Red Hook Public Library, 7444 S. Broadway
We would love to hang out with you.
Read Local Red Hook Literary Festival is presented in partnership between
the Red Hook Community Arts Network, Bard College Center for Civic Engagement, the Red Hook Public Library and Oblong Books and Music.
Are you familiar with Young Adult Books Central?
Taken straight from the YABC Facebook Page…
Since 1998, YABooksCentral.com has been one of the leading teen book review communities on the Web. We feature book giveaways, author interviews, cover reveals, and much more! Join the community atwww.yabookscentral.com
To promote reading and literacy and also children’s and adolescent literature and authors. Basically, to spread the love of reading and help create a new generation of readers!
YABC is one of the leading YA and Kid lit sites on the Internet featuring monthly book giveaways, reviews, author bios & interviews, and much more. Visitors can submit reviews for a chance to win a box of books every month and learn about your favorite authors. And Authors — it’s always free to post your bio & book information! Paid advertising is also available (it goes directly to operating costs and is greatly appreciated).
YABC was founded by Kimberly Pauley, author of Sucks to Be Me, in 1998. In 2010, MG Buehrlen came on board to continue the mission. The site features the reviews of a number of writers, librarians, and also teens. Be sure to check the About this Site page for the current bios of all reviewers!
* * *
Recently YABC asked a bunch or authors and readers to help make a video for Fiesta Movement. They are trying to win a Ford Fiesta to use as a Book Mobile. The video came out great. Can you spot me? I had so much fun making my section LOL!
I hope we win and get a Book Mobile. *taps foot and waits impatiently* And in the mean time, while we’re waiting, you can check out the TOUCHING THE SURFACE reviews at YA Books Central.
What’s your favorite thing about YABC? How cool would it be to have a Book Mobile? Haven’t heard of YABC before? Get on over there!!!!
A recap of the NYC Teen Author Festival!!!!
Thursday March 21st was the NYC Big Read Event. And I was with this fabulous group at the High School of Fashion Industries.
Alexandra Monir, Aaron Hartzler, Kimberly Sabatini, Amy Spalding, Kody Keplinger, Jessica Spotswood,Tiffany Schmidt and Sarah Mlynowski
Besides loving the students at the High School of Fashion Industries, I loved their library and the special Charles Nolan room…
And everything is always better with a little lunch!!!!
Saturday March 23, Symposium at the NY Public Library!!!!!
A FABULOUS Panel!!!!
Defying Description: Tacking the Many Facets of Identity in YA
A.S. King, Aaron Hartzler, Marissa Calin, Jacqueline Woodson and David Levithan
AND I DID A READING AT THE NY PUBLIC LIBRARY!!!!! UGH–I DON’T HAVE A PICTURE OF ME READING, BUT THIS IS ME AT THE LIBRARY!!!!! SQUEE!!!!!
And this panel was so big I couldn’t get them all in one shot LOL!
Under Many Influences: Shaping Identity When You’re a Teen Girl
Katie Sise, Kathryn Williams, Jen Calonita, Hilary Weisman Graham, Deborah Heiligman, Amy Spalding, Kody Keplinger and Moderated by Terra Elan McVoy
And…Born This Way: Nature, Nurture, and Paranormalcy
But unfortunately, I had to leave and meet my hubby and kids before the end of the event. Although perhaps it wasn’t so bad because after a yummy dinner, we took the boys to see…
Although, not my favorite Broadway show, the boys loved it and I really got a kick out of the sets and the stunts.
Breakfast in a room with a view, then off to Books of Wonder!!!! Which was WONDERFUL!!!! And spotted….K.M. Walton in Books of Wonder with a reader absorbed in EMPTY. I had to take this photo LOL!
And Aaron Hartzler signing my copy of his memoir, RAPTURE PRACTICE. (Available April 9, 2013)
OMG!!!!! And me, Fan-girling all over A. S. King!!!!!
DID YOU HEAR ME???? I GOT TO CHAT WITH A.S. KING!!!! *Does a little dance of fan-girlishness*
As you can see…NYC Teen Author Festival…made of AWESOME! To celebrate, I’m giving away my original copy of EMPTY by K.M. Walton because I couldn’t resist picking up a signed copy. *grin*
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hope you enjoyed the recap and I really hope to be a part of the NYC Teen Author Festival in the future.
On March 23rd, I’ll be participating in a NYC TEEN AUTHOR FESTIVAL event at the New York Public Library!!!! In my humble opinion, this is too stinkin’ cool. But I LOVE all libraries, no matter how big or small. I love them with or without lions. I love school libraries or public libraries. In my opinion, they are all very special places and to celebrate my library love–I’m running a Library Giveaway. *fist pump*
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you were a winner in the last library giveaway I conducted, you may enter again as long as the book goes to a DIFFERENT school or public library. Looking for more information about the NYC TEEN AUTHOR FESTIVAL? Click the link above–events involving 80 different authors will be happening all week.
Since we’re hugging libraries, I was wondering if you had a special book that you took out over and over when you were a kid? One of my favorites was The Borrowers!!!! I KNEW they were living in my house too. Or at least I was hoping LOL!
Tomorrow (March 12, 2013) is the book birthday for POISON by Bridget Zinn.
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?
Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.
Unfortunately, POISON will be making its way into the world without its author, who passed away from cancer in May 2011 at the age of 33.
I never knew Bridget personally, but I’ve kept her in the forefront of my mind as a reminder to enjoy every minute of my own publishing journey. I can’t thank her enough for helping me to keep my life in perspective. Bridget never got a chance to join The Lucky 13s, but they have declared Bridget an honorary Lucky.
Please help everyone to spread the word about her humorous and fantastical 2013 debut.
About Bridget Zinn
Bridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the “summer of love” and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was “Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect.”
Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers’ copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.
I’ll be purchasing my copy of POISON tomorrow, I hope you consider buying your own copy and helping to spread the word.
Purchase your copy of Poison:
To learn how you can help spread the word about Poison, please visit
Welcome to Kim’s wild and wacky conference recap. I’m so sorry, but this was the first year since 2008 that I didn’t get to attend the Friday Intensives. I was going to do the novel writing session this year, but due to a busy schedule, all the slots were filled when I registered. You SCBWIers are busy little monkeys. If you’d still like to find out about how it went, I recommend checking out the SCBWI blog.
I did make the most of my fabulous free Friday though. It was the 100th Anniversary of Grand Central Station. What a treat for me to “accidentally” be there.
I have a soft spot for the clock. This is where I told my husband that I was pregnant with my first child. *heart squish*
I also went into Posman’s Book store in Grand Central Station and took a picture of my book on the shelf 100 years after the doors to this beautiful transportation hub opened.
And it’s even more exciting because look at the company I’m keeping on the shelf. I’m such a fan-girl!
Then, I had lunch with my wonderful agent, Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary. I know you hear me say this all the time, but I love her!!!!! I also hit another NYC bookstore and signed stock.
In an interesting twist, I was able to hang out with my husband and meet some of his colleagues. His building has a great view of Grand Central, the Hyatt (where the Conference is held) and the Chrysler Building.
By evening, everyone who was coming on Friday, had either rolled into the hotel or out of the Intensives in order to hang out. Lots of folks hit Kid Lit Night at the Wheel Tapper. And as is typical, the hotel lobby was overflowing with the buzz of chatting writers and artists. A lovely sound.
On to Saturday morning and the official kick-off of the conference…
Seriously, it wouldn’t be a conference without Lin Oliver giving us the conference stats:
*There were 999 of us in attendance, but Lin rounded up in order to make it easy.
*There were representatives from 17 countries outside the United States.
*FIVE states were no-shows and are now on Lin’s list. (Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Mississippi and Hawaii) It was determined that the first three were probably frozen solid and couldn’t make it and Hawaii would have crumbled in this freezing NY weather. But Mississippi–we’ve got our eyes on you!
*There were 796 women, 138 Men and 65 people who shouldn’t use their names as the MC of a novel because no one will know what bathroom you should get to use.
*287 in attendance were published! Woot!!!!
Now let the Keynotes and Break-out sessions begin…
KEYNOTE: So When Are You Going to Write a Real Book, You Know, For Adults? by MEG ROSOFF
I’m just going to come right out and say it. Meg may have put the screws to some celebrity authors. ROTFL! She was hilarious. Now I’m aware that not all celebrity authors, are celebrity authors. For example–the amazing Julie Andrews (whom you’ll hear more about later) is an author who just happens to be a celebrity. And I feel that way about Jamie Lee Curtis too. But…
This one is harder to argue with LOL! I can’t claim to have personally read it, so I’ll leave the ultimate decision on this up to you. While you’re mulling it over, here are some of Meg’s best bits (besides her small reading from Fifty Shades.)
*When I was a teenager, I was the right age to have my life changed by books.
*Most of the best books I’ve ever read, I read before I was twenty.
*The best children’s books are about the the same topics as the best adult books.
*Books that are very good are worth reading, no matter who they’re written for or why they were written.
*Picture Books are #18 on the Goodreads list because how hard is it to write picture books? All you have to do is draw a duck. *insert sarcasm here*
Next up was a KEYNOTE PANEL DISCUSSION: Booksellers Panel: What’s Selling?
Moderator–Lin Oliver (LO)
Mary Brown (MB)–Owner of Books, Bytes & Beyond, a children’s specialty bookstore
Robert Brown (RB)–National Sales and Program Manager at Scholastic Book Fairs
Jon Fine (JF)–Director of author & publisher relations at Amazon
Here are the best take-aways…
(MB) 70% of her market is schools and libraries. Non-fiction is increasingly important due to the core curriculum. *FYI you can download a free app with the core curriculum for our iPad and other devices.
(RB) It’s about getting books into children’s hands.
(JF) There is no finer group of authors than the SCBWI!!!!
(JF) The core concept is to tell a great story. If you do that, your words will be heard.
(JF) The benefit of today’s technology is that anyone can tell their story. (Access) But the down side it that anyone can tell their story LOL!
BREAK-OUT SESSION #1: What Hooks Me: Editors and Art Directors Tell All with Molly O’Neill (Editor, Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins)
Some of my favorite thoughts from Molly…
*Having a marketing background never leaves you. (Making her an editor with a double filter.)
*Pay attention to the balance between the specific and the universal.
*Kids are the primary audience.
*An editor is an advocate for the reader.
*When you boil it down, books are about what it means to be a human being.
*There needs to be things that ring so true in your writing that readers want to ingest it–tattoo it on themselves!
*When the reader is done with the book, are they unwilling to let go of it?
*Write what you know emotionally.
*Decide as an author, what part of your book or writing is non-negotiable and stick to it.
Also…Molly has made me crazy to read WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith. It looks fabulous and I’ve always loved Intern Spills.
After lunch (in which I ate a giant healthy salad followed by a large, chocolate cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. *yum*)
it was time for…BREAK-OUT SESSION#2: What Hooks Me: Editors and Art Directors Tell All with Rosemary Brosnan (editorial director of HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Gahhhh *pulls out hair* I was so entranced listening to Rosemary, I forgot to take a picture. So sorry.
*I love starred books and great reviews, but readers still have to buy the book. (Can I get an amen?)
*I LOVED the story about how my fellow Apocalypsie sistah, Anne Nesbet, author of CABINET OF EARTHS, met with Rosemary while she was sick in bed at a conference. It goes to show you, you never know what’s going to happen in publishing LOL!
And SQUEE!!!! Rosemary also highlighted the books of a personal friend and member of my local SCBWI Shop Talk, Jennifer Castle!!!!
I loved The Beginning of After!!!!
And I’m dying to read You Look Different In Real Life–Available June 4, 2013.
THE LAST KEYNOTE SPEAKER OF THE DAY: Internal Migrations by Shaun Tan
I have to start off by telling you, that it never ceases to amaze me, how much I’m affected by the illustrator or illustrator/author presentation at the SCBWI. They are so amazing. I’m very glad our diversity is our unity.
I WANT!!! Not only the book (it wasn’t available at the bookstore) but I want ERIC to come and stay at my house. This is one of my favorite book characters now!
I did get THE ARRIVAL signed!!!! Amazing and I played it cool, but Arthur Levine helped me get my books ready to sign when a conference helper had to step away. Between Tan and Levine, I was a tongue-tied fan-girl, muttering gibberish. *sigh* I may have said something about awesome and great and fabulous, but I can’t be sure.
And just so you know, Shaun’s words and thoughts are as beautiful and magical as his artwork…
*Never listen to what an artist says–the truth is in the work.
*The dark side of familiarity is complacency.
*Migration can be internal.
*The truths I’m most interested in are the ones that can be spoken of directly.
*I imagine my stories as really happening.
*I’m very suspicious of artists that have neat and tidy studios–I admire them–but I’m suspicious.
*Comprehension is over rated–what’s more important is a feeling of imaginative empathy.
AND MY FAVORITE…
*The thing that matters most in art, is that thing you can’t explain.
Ummm I may have been too busy lounging across the MASHED POTATO BAR at the Cocktail Gala Meet and Greet to take pictures, but you can’t blame me, it had a toppings bar. Just know that Day #1 was so inspiring, I stayed up way too late in order to discuss it with anyone who had feet. (Yeah, my criteria for bookish conversational comrades is very high LOL!) And in fact, my roommie believes that I fell asleep mid-sentence that night. A new milestone. *grin*
I’ll be back with Sunday (Day #2) on Friday’s blog post. But in the mean time, talk to me, I’m still awake–sort of. What’s inspiring you, my arm chair conference buddy? Anything that resonates? New authors/illustrators to check out? Any editors just added to your Must Have list? Are you saving your pennies for the next SCBWI Conference?
PS–Chris Crutcher, you were missed in the lobby. Everyone was wishing you were there for another fabulous night of conversation. (((hugs)))
You’ve all heard some of the terminology about how author’s get paid. This is important stuff. Advances and royalties are two words that immediately come to mind and rightly so. It’s normal to want to be paid fairly for the work that you do. No one would ever expect a Hollywood movie star or a pro-athlete to donate their time for the sake of entertaining us. We also don’t expect doctors to show up for hugs and lollipops. Police get a salary and so do an army of teachers struggling under the weight of how to create learners instead of test takers. Everyone gets paid for the work that they do. Some more than others, but we all get paid.
But there are times in most professions when we realize that we do what we do, for bigger and better reasons than money. Those movie stars use their capitol to support very worth while charities. They have a reach and influence that most of us can’t ever imagine. In just one of many instances, a pro-athlete shows up for the survivors of the Newtown shooting, helping to remind us who our heroes really are. Doctors donate a percentage of their services to those in need. A police officer buys a homeless man shoes. Teachers use the very small amount of money they make to buy books for their classrooms.
Young Adult authors want to make the lives of children better. In a way, tweens and teens are our true employers and while those readers do buy books, we really get paid in fan mail–with humor, insights and honesty.
Just a sample of the thank you letters from two middle schools I recently visited…
* “You have inspired me to work on my basketball skills.”
* “I hope you enjoyed us, but I know we enjoyed you.”
* “Thank you for being a good friend to all of us…It made me think about going to the library after school to do homework.”
* “I have something tragic that happened in my life. I think that if I let my feelings out on paper it will make my life a whole lot better.”
* “You encouraged me to read more. And yes, I remembered to think about you when we proofread,”
* “Thank you for answering my 17 questions…I’m reading your book and I love it. I’m a good reader but I’m slow. From your biggest fan…”
* “Thank you for being nice to me…”
* “What I learned from you is how to follow your dreams…One day I will make a book about dreams…I will buy your book and have a good joyful life. PS Buy my book later.”
* “One thing I learned is if you ever want to become a writer don’t stop the first time they reject your book. Keep going on, change some stuff so it sounds better.”
* “…I thought about it a little, and realized I should probably do the same thing because it isn’t good to keep things to yourself the way I do. So, I’m going to try to open up more to people and myself…I say this because I did what you said and wrote down some personal things that I kept away from people and it actually felt good to write it down…Thank you very much for teaching me something about myself.”
* “…The fact that you took the whole day to come and meet every single class individually, really shows how cool of a person you truly are.”
* “I was ecstatic when you told us about your writing style. That got me so excited because you said that not all authors planned out their stories to an extremity. I, like you, do not plan out my stories. I find writing can be much more exciting when you are writing a story and you just can’t wait to find out how the end plays out.”
* “You also inspired me because of how you never found yourself good enough.”
* “P.S.: Team Trevor forever!!! <3″
* “Hi, your visit was very special…I also hope that I grow up with the same kind of encouragement and influence that you had in your life…If you have a chance, please come back and give our class the encouragement we need in life.”
* “When you showed us the process of how to get a book published I was absolutely stunned! After I saw all the papers inside that single binder my jaw literally dropped….Rick Riordan may be one of my favorite authors but you will always be my favorite too.”
* “Also, hearing about how much you wrote when you were younger was inspiring because I’m the same way now (Thanks for the “no tearing out” warning by the way.)”
* “My sister just finished your book, so I got it. Like your editor, I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH.”
* “I also realized that people don’t need to be published authors to be writers. People just need to write.”
* “As you may be able to tell I’m not that good of a writer, but it’s always good to know what I might be getting into if I were to be an author.”
* “Also it was unbelievable how great your handwriting was in elementary school.”
* “I liked how your were really enthusiastic when you were speaking, so everyone would pay attention. I did not read your book, but I’m hoping I can get my hands on it to see how great it is after so much hard work.”
* “Your book is going to be a big success because when I started reading I couldn’t stop or put it down.”
* “Thank you so much for visiting our class and teaching us about the process and joy of becoming an author. You specifically connected with each of us which made it a lot more real. It’s funny because I find myself a lot like you were growing up…”
* “Than when you came, it inspired me to write again and I LOVE IT!!!! Thank you so much for letting me do what I really love.”
* “I too have ripped out the pages of my journal. I did this because writing things down was dangerous. Dangerous because it makes things more than thoughts in my head. Dangerous because it makes them real. Your visit lets me hope that one day I will be in front of a class showing them the pages of my ripped journal. I extend my most sincere gratitude for this, for allowing me to hope.”
As you can see, no matter how much or how little money I make as an author, it’s obvious that I’m very, very rich. This is why I love what I do. It also reminds me how carefully our children are watching and listening. I love it when I get the chance to be the change I want to see in the world. Any favorites? And yes, I laughed and cried as I was reading. How could I not?