Doctors and story ideas and anger, oh my!
Your april 16, 2023 missive From Karis
Ya girl went to the doctor this week 🩺
Yes, I am so proud of myself for going to the doctor that it’s the headline of this section 😂. Listen, I’ve been making, canceling, and rescheduling doctor’s appointments since like…late 2021. So the fact that I actually went into the city, told a doctor about all my aches and pains, let them take my blood? It’s a win for me!
In other news, I gorged myself on pasta and cheese on Friday night, finalized plans for where I’m celebrating my birthday in just under four weeks, finished a book I’d been loving and reding for a while, and bought a new alarm clock. A great week in Karis-land!
In this missive, you’ll find:
From the heart: thoughts on America being The Bad Place
From the shelf: an upcoming book I can’t wait for
From the page: story ideas to come keep me going
As always, feel free to comment, share, reply to this email, or in some other way interact with me 😊 I love chatting with y’all!
From the heart 💗
trigger warning: discussions of homophobia and racism
I almost don’t know where to start. If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, chances are you’re aware of the rise in book bans in the past two or so years — in part because I’m pretty sure I’ve written about it before, lol.
So today I guess I’m gonna just…share how these make me feel. Maybe you’ll resonate, and feel seen, and know that you’re not alone, and that will be enough. Maybe we’ll start a conversation and figure out some way to fight back. That would be great, too.
Here’s the thing: the book I’m currently querying, Nat & Cami’s Guide to Running an Undercover GSA, is a book that tells a story of two girls who unapologetically fall in love with each other. As they do so, they fall out of love with evangelical Christianity.
There’s some harsh language in the book, which is frankly terrifying for me to include. Because I look at the world around me — and by that I mean, the America around me — and I see so much horror.
I see that librarians, authors, and book lovers had to come out in droves and fight like hell to save a public library in Llano, TX. I see that there were a record number of book bans logged in 2022. I see stories of people burning books. I see videos of right-wing agitators reading aloud carefully selected portions of books to claim that queer writers are “groomers.” I see that various states are banning gender-affirming care. I hear about an author being told to censor the word “racism” from her book.
The bad news is everywhere, and it’s oppressive. And it scares the shit out of me. Do you know how hard I’ve had to fight to deprogram myself from the evangelical Christianity that raised me? I have agonized for years over the disconnect between what I believed and what I was indoctrinated into thinking was the truth. And now, as I’m finally free and relishing in that freedom, the wolves are nipping at my heels, threatening to drag me bodily back into a theocracy.
Listen. You want to be a hateful bigot who thinks queerness is wrong? You want to hate the sight of same-sex couples, or trans people? You want to be a bigot who thinks this country wasn’t built on systemic racism, and you want to close your eyes and ears to the truth of the blood on our colonizer hands? Fine. Live your small life.
But don’t fucking come into my life and impose your reality upon me. Let me be expansive, free, kaleidoscopic with joy. Let me view the world in full technicolor, while you carry on in black and white without room for disagreement or diversity.
Get your hands off my reproductive liberty; my gender-affirming care; my marriage license; my education; my humanity. Retreat into your cave and be miserable in peace, for the love of —
Let us live.
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From the shelf 📚
We’re still a few weeks out from the May 9 release of this book, which is great because it gives everyone time to preorder If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come, Jen St. Jude’s searing debut YA. And if you trust me on anything, trust me on this: it’s a book you’ll want to read and own.
IDTC is…everything. It’s an end-of-the-world tale about queer first love and mental health and when I read it in February it rewired the way my brain thinks about life and death. I’m not kidding. This book impacted me in a huge way.
Avery Byrne’s plans to end her life get put on hold when news breaks of an asteroid that’s nine days from hitting Southwest America and disintegrating the planet. Her journey throughout this book took my breath away. And the ending? It was somehow the most perfect ending I could have dreamed for a book that hooked its way into my soul like this one did. Listen. I’m serious. Buy the book. Please?
From the page ✍️
I have a list of book ideas longer than I’ll probably ever be able to write.
And I add more to them every day, it seems! Some of the books on this list have already been written; at least one of them has been shelved for now; and many are in various states of ideation — from fully outlined to just a few sentences of a pitch jotted down on Notion. Some of them I’m excited to jump into ASAP, and others are on the back burner until some future moment when I’m ready.
For instance, I have this dream of writing an epic fantasy series (for either adult or YA), and I’m just noooot quiiiiite there yet. There’s another story idea in that picture, called “three-book travel,” that I’ve been dreaming of writing for at least two years, but I don’t want to start a series without an agent. So, I’m putting it on hold for now. Someday, though…someday it’s gonna rock.
Coming up with story ideas like these are important to keep me excited and moving forward. I’m deep in the query trenches right now, and it sucks. It’s agonizing; every day that I don’t hear back is a nightmare, and every day that I do hear back with a rejection is even worse. It feels like I’m literally underground, and hope is hard to come by.
So when I feel completely at a loss and adrift, I look at my list of story ideas, and I remember why I’m doing this — why I’m putting myself through the rejection wringer — and it’s so that I can tell the rest of these stories. Right now, all the unplanned ideas are shiny and perfect, beautiful golden stars that I can reach for and hold in my palm for a second. I can see them in my head, how perfect and impactful and hilarious and swoony they will be…and it keeps me going.
When I’m in the middle of a draft and feel like I’m never going to get it done; when I’m agonizing over revisions and sure my vision will never come to life; when I’m aching to write but can’t; I hold on to these visions of future books and they give me hope, they give me the push I need to keep going.
Why do I write? Because I have stories burning a hole in my heart and brain, screaming to get onto the page and into your hands.
Why do I write? Because I read, and the stories I’ve read have helped me see myself, see others, and see the world better, and I hope my stories will one day do that for someone else.
Why do I write? So that I can keep writing.