Book News: The Dryad of Fairmount Park, To Be Published Spring 2018

novel aesthetics

That bundle of images is from a #NovelAesthetics I tweeted last year.

And now that book is actually happening.

Before I moved away from Philadelphia, I spent every other weekend holed up with my YA writing group (hi Randy, Lauren, Katherine, and Julie, I miss all of you terribly), fussing over a book that was challenging the hell out of me.

Much like the drive to curate my adoption-themed anthology Welcome Home, I wanted to write a novel for adopted kids. Teens who were wrestling with finding a sense of identity, the way I did when I was younger. I wanted there to be magic, friendship, a diverse cast of characters. I wanted to talk about how we treat the world around us, and how it reflects on how we treat one another.

I wanted a lot.

I affectionately referred to this book as "The Nena Book" whenever I talked about it, as my wife pushed me to try and write this. To talk about transracial adoptees (like me), and to write a story that was incredibly close and personal to me.

It was absolutely the book of my heart. And now, it'll be published by Flux in the Spring of 2018.


Here's what it's about.

THE DRYAD OF FAIRMOUNT PARK is YA contemporary novel with a heavy splash of magic. In it, a recently adopted teen girl, Leila, discovers that her connection to nature and passion for environmental activism are part of her unique and magical genetic makeup, and a grove of trees that holds the secret.

With her best friend Sarika, she has to rally her environmental science club, passionate local activists from around the Internet, and a cute young park ranger with a one-winged owl, to save this magical grove in Philadelphia's large historic park.

All of this, while wrestling with bullies at her new high school, and struggling with words like “Mom” and “Dad” for Lisabeth and Jon, her new adoptive parents that want nothing more than to love her.

If she doesn’t, she’ll never get the answers she seeks, and the city of Philadelphia might face a catastrophic environmental collapse, as long-hidden magic fades from the city.

And there you have it. It's kinda like FernGully, but in the city. Though I should stop saying that. I'm not sure anyone remembers that movie but me.

dryad blip

I'm so thrilled that the book found a home with Flux. They're doing my adoption anthology this Fall, and they've published books by a bunch of authors I adore, like Fonda Lee, Emily Skrutskie, Helene Dunbar, and more.

Thanks for taking this one on, Mari and team!

Speaking of thanks, there are a lot of thank yous in the mix here, as Dryad came together as a result of a lot of people.

A massive thank you to my darling wife for pushing me to try and write something that challenged me, and reading the roughest of drafts. Dawn Frederick for saying okay when I said "I have a book about magic, adopted kids, trees, and some of those kids and trees are magic." Adi Alsaid for that inspiring Mexico writing trip. Zoraida Cordova for telling me to keep the magic. My writing group up top.

And the many beta readers who took the time to read this thing over the past year and a half, from when it was a loose rough draft to a manuscript I was trying to polish... McCormick Templeman, Heidi Schulz, Tristina Wright, Shveta Thakrar, Elizabeth Keenan, Laurel Amberdine, Alisa Hathaway, Rebecca Enzor, Brenna Ehrlich, Thomas Torre, Willa Smith, Natasha Razi, Leah Rhyne, Amber Hart, McKelle George, Jenny Kaczorowski, Nic Stone, Samira Ahmed, Kim Liggett, and Bill Blume, for taking the time to give me feedback, despite your wild schedules.

This is actually going to be the very first YA novel of mine to be in print, that you can pick up at a bookstore. It's true! The Geek's Guide to Dating was humor. My Inked series with Bloomsbury was all digital. The anthology might have my name on it, but it's not really mine. It's a collection of stories from many.

It's an intense feeling. My first in-print YA novel. I'm just so happy right now.

So. Here's to Spring 2018.

I can't wait for you to meet Leila and Sarika.

And a one-winged owl named Milford.

Book News: Welcome Home, An Anthology, To Be Published Fall 2017

jolly fish header Growing up, I could never find stories about adopted kids.

I always sought out other adoptees, to hear their stories, and as a teenager, wrestled with identity a lot. When people asked where I was from, I made things up. When kids poked fun at me for being adopted (that does happen), I got in fights. As an escape, I read. I read voraciously. And I wish that a some point, in all those pages, that I had been able to see stories about people like me.

"Aw, come on champ. Even Superman is adopted."

Okay, adopted kids hear that all the time. But adoptees can't fly away from their problems. There's no fortress of solitude to retreat to, and even if there was, being alone, feeling alone, is one of the biggest problems in the first place.

Which is why I'm really thrilled to be announcing my Young Adult anthology, Welcome Home. 

Welcome Home collects genre-spanning short stories centered around the theme of adoption, with tales about foster care, searching for birth parents, group homes, adopted siblings, struggling adoptive parents, and more by a number of amazing authors.

contributors post

The list includes Adi AlsaidDave ConnisHelene Dunbar, Kate LethLauren Gibaldi, Libby CudmoreMatthew Quinn Martin, Mindy McGinnisShannon ParkerRandy Ribay, Nic Stone, and many, many more we're going to reveal over the coming months. Note the question marks.

There are even a few debut voices in the mix, including Hello Giggles staff contributor Sammy Nickalls.

The book will be out with Jolly Fish Press in the Fall of 2017. We'll be donating the book's royalties to organizations that work with adoptees and foster kids, and I can't wait to share those plans when we've got them ironed out, as well as other fun announcements with the book, from covers to contributors.

And speaking of.

You might have noticed those question marks in the image up above. Are YOU someone with a close tie to adoption, and possibly interested in writing a story? Let's talk. I'm still looking for stories, particularly from diverse voices. No, you don't have to be published before, we have some exciting debut voices we'll announce very soon. You can find my contact info here.

Update (6/15): The collection is finalized, but we will be taking stories for the online portion of the anthology, a website where we will collect adoption stories. If you'd like more info on that, drop me a line.

Want to keep updated on pre-orders, giveaways, and all of that? You can add Welcome Home on Goodreads. Please do!

Now, some thank yous.

When it comes to my writing and literary agent life, my wife pushes me. She does it all the time. Pushes me to try things that are difficult, to work outside my comfort zone. To tackle serious ideas. Growing up, I shied away from all that, but since meeting Kristina, I've really started to try harder. Welcome Home is one of the first projects to come out of that. Thank you, Nena.

Thanks to all the authors who jumped in to play along with this, and took a chance writing short stories for a project that might have never happened. It's a hard thing, putting together an anthology (there will be a blog post on this down the line). It's a passion project, and you never know if it'll get picked up.

And the YA community as a whole. I literally emailed over one hundred of you. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, making introductions.

And my superstar agent, Dawn Frederick, thank you for reading my long rambling emails about this thing, and letting me prattle to you on the phone about it. I'm not sure how you deal with me. You're a saint. And McKelle George at Jollyfish, for taking this labor of love on.

And Mom and Dad?

Thank you for bringing me home.

Stay tuned. <3

Jolly Fish Press: Twitter (@JollyFishPress), Facebook (

Welcome Home: On Goodreads (