I released a new MG this month: ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE.

It's about a young boy with the best thinking cap of all time--the kind of thinking cap that makes everything easy...until one day, when the hat breaks. And suddenly, the boy who'd been good at everything is good at nothing. What's Alexander to do without his super power???

For those of you who are familiar with my previous releases, ALEXANDER AND THE AMAZING WIDE-AWAKE stars Alexander Gum, who was a secondary character in '16's short MG read WORDQUAKE.

Both books are lightly illustrated, making them great for the graphic novel or comic book addict in your life. They make fantastic "bridge books," helping readers begin to make that transition toward non-illustrated novels.

I had to make a bit of a transition myself, in order to write both ALEXANDER and WORDQUAKE: a transition into digital art. I've had several fellow writers ask what the first steps were that I took toward illustration. For a while, I told them: a Wacom drawing tablet (I have an Intuos Pro) and Clip Studio software (at $50, it's super-cheap, and it has all the bells and whistles a new illustrator needs without being overwhelming or intimidating).

But really, there's a step I took before that. Maybe the most important step of all: I called myself an illustrator. Even though I'd done NOTHING with digital art, even though my art experience had come decades ago and was on paper and canvas. I started calling myself an author / illustrator from the very beginning.

I'm not unlike most authors when I say it took years and many manuscripts and a pile of rejection before I sold my first book. I spent seven and a half years of full-time effort trying to get that elusive first "yes." During those seven and a half years, I was hesitant to call myself an author. I hadn't sold anything, so it didn't seem I had a right to that title. Or it resulted in the inevitable follow-up questions, during which I'd get THE LOOK: every writer knows it. The look that you always interpret to mean, Well, you know you aren't really an author if you aren't published. It's a hobby, not a real occupation.

But here's the biggest lesson I learned from all of that: you should never allow the outside world to define you. YOU should be the only person who defines you. Waiting around for the outside world to give you a title--or prestige--or a sense of self-worth (and those things so often seem tangled up into the same ball) is a recipe for disaster and heartbreak.

SO: Whatever resolution you've made for '17, whatever new goal you're setting out to achieve, whatever beginning you've undertaken, pause for just a moment and give yourself a title. Don't wait to achieve the goal. If you're writing, you're a writer. If your drawing, you're an artist. Get in the habit of owning the title. Say it out loud, proudly:

 I'm a ___.

Because you are.


  1. Great inspiration for all of us who might feel stuck in a certain role or definition of what we are and can do. Good luck with your exciting new (ad)venture Holly!

  2. Congratulations on the new release!


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