We're Only Human

Undoubtedly, the most prominent theme of I See Red is the unconditional devotion of an extremely patient adult, towards an extremely difficult child. Zoe (26) is Dallas's (6) Behavior Specialist; a role that requires her support through a rough time in his young life. He kicks, screams, scratches, bites, and engages in extremely risky behaviors—so how the heck does Zoe stay so patient? Firstly, she's a fictional character, so she has that advantage. Secondly, when you read the book, you start to realize that she's not unlike you or me. Zoe has her limits—and so do we.

How can you love someone so incredibly unlovable? As I mentioned in the last post; love is a word with many different applications. For Zoe, love means showing up day after day, no matter what. For Dallas, love lives in consistency—he knows what to expect, and trusts that he'll receive the same outcome every time. It is an impossible, and unhealthy, expectation for adults to strive to affectionately feel 'love' for any child at all times, let alone a child with severe behavioral difficulties. We are only human, and should allow ourselves to feel a wide range of human emotions—with one caveat. You are responsible for how you react to your feelings.

The reason Zoe stands out as a character with a ridiculous amount of patience, is that she doesn't let her feelings lead the way. She knows that yelling at Dallas will not yield compliance, and will likely do the opposite. Children like Dallas are thrilled with big, emotional responses from adults—they find pleasure in overreactions, especially because they are receiving undivided attention from adults. When adults know how to regulate their emotions (at least most of the time), they're much less likely to say or do something damaging towards a child.

Zoe isn't perfect; but she's 'good enough' at being the person Dallas needs. She's an example of what we need to be 'good enough' parents and caregivers—the flexibility to stay connected in times of trouble, the willingness to forgive, the honesty to work through her raw emotions towards Dallas, and the ability to recognize her limits. Zoe isn't afraid to feel; but she's mindful about how she reacts.

** Chapter One of I SEE RED will be leaked right here, on this blog, on December 19! Don't miss out on updates! Subscribe today!**

One Book, Two Voices

I started writing the skeleton of I See Red about a year ago, when I was in my last month of working as a Behavior Specialist. I had spent previous four years working alongside children with behavioral difficulties and special needs who required extra encouragement to be active members of their school communities. I was tired; it was time to hang up my hat. I am a big believer in walking away from careers (especially careers with kids), when you know in your heart that it's time to move on. I had given all that I had to give, and wanted to leave on a peak rather than a valley. My last client and I left on great terms, he has a wonderful family, and he continues to experience social success in his new school placement. Sometimes we even write each other letters and send them in the mail.

Firstly, let me be clear in saying that this book is not about me, and it is also not about any of the children with whom I have worked over the past few years. The story's main characters Dallas (6), and Zoe (26) are entirely fictional. The storyline is a fictional representation of a likely scenario with a child who fits Dallas's description, and a possible response from someone in Zoe's position. The real beginning of I See Red came when I stopped working in the behavior field, and wanted other people to understand "difficult" children the way I did. I wanted to explain that the very children who make life hell for teachers and parents, are the ones who are the most misunderstood. These are not broken children, they are developing people who need adults to love them fiercely. Sometimes this love is cosy and warm; but most of the time it exists in the setting of boundaries, consistent responses, and the daily building of trust. Love lives in the small moments where two people are walking along together, and occasionally, there's only one set of footprints.

For this reason, the bare bones of I See Red began in both the voices of Dallas and Zoe. I could easily have written the story from Zoe's adult perspective alone, and sure, it would have been an easier read — but I felt it wouldn't do justice to the character of Dallas. As adults, we like to think that we understand why children do the things they do, but after a decade of working with difficult and marginalized children, I beg to differ. When adults assume a child's motivation, they react according to the assumption before seeking to find the truth. When difficult children experience these assumptions time and time again, they begin to live with a very low set of expectations from adults, and no motivation to go beyond. After all, why bother trying to be "good" when the only lens you've ever been viewed through is "bad"? So, I let both characters speak. Both the adult and child have their own voice, and you the reader, can use your own judgement when it comes to who's right and who's wrong. And maybe, just maybe, you'll discover that life isn't so black and white.

When you read I See Red, you'll realize the vital importance of listening to Dallas. You might think about an out-of-control child you know; a loner, a bully, a class clown. You might remember a child you once knew whose actions were confusing, obnoxious, and downright defiant. You might think of your own experience as a child, or someone in your own family, who could never seem to get their act together. It is my hope that you will begin to see the people on the fringe of society (especially children; especially those in the formative years of 0-8) in a new light — and make room for them in your life. Instead of desperately trying to change someone else, why not love them just the way they are? You'd be surprised how much change someone experiences when they are truly loved.

"I SEE RED" Official Release Date Announcement!

I am excited to announce that my first, self-published novel I See Red will be officially released on Amazon Kindle on January 12th, 2017. Not only is this the day I send my book into the wild, it is also my 32nd birthday! The best birthday present you could give me in 2017, is to help me get the word out to as many people as possible, so that I See Red can reach a larger audience. As you might have guessed, self-publishing requires a great deal of word-of-mouth and YOU are my mouths.

Here's my plan: 
Over the next couple of weeks I'll release a pre-order option, offer some promos and giveaways for certain challenges, update this blog, guest post on other people's blogs, and starting just before Christmas, I will be leaking three chapters a week.

Here's what I would love from you: 
Closer to pre-order and release, it would mean the world to me for you to post a picture of the book cover on Instagram and/or Facebook, with a little blurb on what the book is about (click here to find out) and where people can buy a copy (Amazon Kindle). I will remind you closer to the time, and also provide a succinct description of the story that you can cut and paste to your caption/status if you feel like you don't know what to say.

Also, I would love for you to buy a copy when it's released and support self-published authors! If you don't have a Kindle, don't worry! Kindle has both IOS and Android apps, making it simple for you to read my novel on your phone or tablet.

Thank you for supporting my work, I appreciate you all so much.


**Disclaimer: I am currently in my third trimester of pregnancy. If baby Piers decides to make an early entrance to the world, the release date of my book may be subject to change. He would be a really, really cute inconvenience to this plan. Even so, I See Red's release date is coming, so be ready.