This I believe – 2014 edition

Year-end assessments and new year’s resolutions are both tools I find helpful for making decisions. This year I’ve decided to combine them into what I’m calling my 2014 manifesto. Organized into the two themes I most often write about, this I believe:


  • I believe that both person-first language and identity-first language are valid. To the case in point, I think it’s OK to say either that a person has autism (person first, or noun usage) or that a person is autistic (identity first, adjective usage). If the individual in question has a known preference, it should be honored. If not, either is fine. Let’s give both sides the benefit of the doubt, and move on.
  • I believe that Kelli Stapleton should be judged through a wider lens than the murder-suicide she allegedly committed Sept. 3. You can read my previous thoughts on that here. If you are inclined to support Kelli, you can do so here.
  • I believe that my preceding belief does nothing to reduce my legitimacy as my son’s fiercest advocate (OK, co-advocate with my husband, plus a deep bench of educators, therapists, family supporters and fellow parents we’re fortunate enough to have found.) As Marianne Russo put it, in the best line of the many I’ve read these last four months: “For a community that has fought long and hard to end stigma for their kids, why are we now projecting it onto broken parents?” It does not follow that a parent who can empathize with another’s struggle then becomes their own child’s nemesis.
  • I believe in the qualifier “at this time” and when this time rolls around, BOOYAH is called for. Exhibit A, from my son’s 2010-11 IEP:                    


From the laundry room yesterday (and could have been filmed more than a year ago):


  • I believe there will be far fewer BOOYAHs! in 2014 than I’d like. But that is also because I believe I let my expectations get in the way too often. If it frustrates me that Owen cannot see the forest for the trees, I must try harder to appreciate the magnificence of a solitary, stately pine.
  • I believe our neurotypical daughter’s needs should come first now and then, and will strive to better balance hers and his. Read more on the sibs »


Backstory: I self-published my first novel, Sparrow Migrations, this year. The following vignettes stand out from the experience and inform my beliefs:

  • A voracious reader telling me she attended an in-person appearance by best-selling author Jamie Ford. Instead of paying the $26 list price for his new hardcover, Songs of Willow Frost, she went home and bought it on her Kindle for less than $11. Meanwhile, she said, she makes it a point to visit a local bookstore to buy my book and those of local authors like Aaron Stander and Elizabeth Buzzelli.
  • Mere days after the above incident, an independent bookstore (not in Traverse City) informed me that I would need to pay a $25 fee for them to carry my books on consignment. (The disconnect was what was so disappointing. The manager specifically made the point that competition with Amazon was what had led them to establish this fee, apparently not getting that curating and cultivating local authors is one area where they could distinguish themselves from the online book behemoth.)
  • An unknown reader approaching me at an ice cream store to tell me she had loved my novel, which a friend had recommended to her, and did I have anything new in the works? (Yes, thanks for asking. I hope the new novel, tentatively titled Tres Vidas, will be out next year.)
  • With ten days left before Christmas, a local bookseller lamenting that he would likely run out of copies of A Child’s Christmas in New England, a hot holiday seller, due to a conservative print run.

With that said..

  • I believe readers are king (or, in my case, since women read most fiction, queens) that word of mouth endures more than a book tour and that these readers are creating a growing groundswell for local authors, akin to the local food movement. (For Exhibit A, see item 1, paragraph 2, in this Bookbub post.)
  • I believe press runs are anachronisms, yet there is a future for print books
  • I believe that a sustainable future exists for authors and publishers who embrace print-on-demand and priced-right e-books, and booksellers wise enough and willing enough to curate their inventory independently, setting aside the baggage that goes with”self” or “traditionally” published, in order to serve their locavore readers. Read Local Authors, now in very early development stages, is a way I hope to advance that future in 2014. 

Lastly, I believe that 14 my lucky number. I was born on July 14. My daughter is September 14. As a kid, I always chose 14 as my number when I played sports. So I believe that good things lie ahead in 2014. Hope you’ll be along to share them here.

The letter Y brought to you by Daily Drop Cap.


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