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Closing out 2022
Plus details on things to come in 2023!
On days like today, it’s shocking to me that I’m actually a working writer. What started out as a hobby as a little kid, typing out “books” on my dad’s computer in size 16 font so the story would stretch over more pages, is now actual gainful work. Just today, I reviewed final pass pages for my second book, wrote the Author’s Note for my third book, and drafted a chapter for my new project (a novel!) which I’m hoping becomes my fourth book.
And yet so much has not changed: I’m still sitting cross-legged on my couch as I write, still second-guessing whether any of the words I’m typing are actually any good. I’m still reading authors I look up to, wondering how they possibly thought of this sentence or that metaphor. And I’m still, and the end of the day, writing for my readers, hoping something I say touches them or makes them consider a new viewpoint or challenges one of their assumptions.
Those readers include all of you, who have showed an enormous amount of support for the release of Muhammad Najem, War Reporter this September. I’m so incredibly proud of Muhammad for sharing his story with the world, not only in our book but in the countless interviews and speaking engagements he’s done (in amazing English!) since the book came out.
If you’ll allow me, here are a few highlights (and if this bores you, skip down below the break!): We launched the book with a virtual event sponsored by the famous DC bookstore Politics & Prose, which was a huge deal to us. You can still watch that conversation, with Muhammad and also our illustrator Julie Robine, here.
Our book was just named one of the best books of 2022 by NPR and the School Library Journal, and received two starred reviews from two of the top trade publications in the industry, including the Horn Book Magazine.
And most importantly, we’ve heard from kid readers and teachers across the country who say the book is resonating with them, teaching them not only about Syria but also how to have hope in a broken world. We’re so honored.
There’s a lot coming in the New Year! I’m beginning to shift my focus to my second book. 24 HOURS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE is an oral history of the stand against white supremacy on August 11 and 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, told in the voices of the activists, survivors and lawmakers who were actually there.
I’ll have way more about this book (including the cover reveal and the preorder information!) in the year, but for a first look, check out this excerpt published in POLITICO Magazine for the fifth anniversary this August.
This year, I’ll also be finishing my second graphic novel, STUNT GIRL, working with the incredible illustrator (and my dear friend) Julie Robine! My part of that book is basically done by now, which means Julie is in the midst of sketching out the illustrations for every page. Next, she’ll ink them and then finally add color.
As I mentioned above, I’m also writing my fourth book, which would be my first novel! Technically, I’ve written three full novels before, but none of them were ever published (thankfully!). It’s been a bit of a challenge to change my brain from the journalism/ non-fiction world to writing a novel, but at the same time I’ve been writing fiction stories since I was a kid, and wrote my first full novel at 14, so it does feel a bit like riding a bike. It’s an adventure, for sure!
Finally, one of my goals for 2023 is to be more intentional about building community. I’d love if that included all of you! So I’m opening up the comments to this post for answers to the following question: What was your highlight of 2022? It can be big or small, professional or personal. Click on the button below to add yours (you may need to log-in to Substack first, but it’s easy I promise). And once you’re there, you can see my own answer.
In conclusion, thank you so much for supporting my writing this year and for your continued support in 2023. I couldn’t do this without all of you. And if you’re looking for a last minute holiday gift, may I recommend a certain graphic novel? 😀
Sending you all my best this holiday season,
PS: If you want to be one of the first to see the cover of my next book, subscribe now!