Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kindle Single - Pay Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years

I'm excited to announce that my Kindle Single on student debt was released on Friday. Naturally, this means I've been refreshing my Amazon ranking on an hourly basis. Over the weekend, the book reached the Top 10 on several best seller lists, including Kindle Singles: Essays & Ideas and Kindle Singles: Memoir.

I'm also a little nervous about this book. It's a sensitive topic. While I hope people will find my analysis fair, I know it has the potential to attract negative comments as well. It will be interesting to see what happens as the reviews come in (so far so good)!

The other reason I'm nervous is that I write exactly how much money I made over the last five years, what my rent has been, and my SAT scores (among other things). It's scary to reveal so much personal information, but I felt it was necessary if this book is to be a candid portrait of a student debtor and a useful resource.

It has been great to work with the folks at Kindle Singles, including my editor--who recognized the appeal of a student debt success story and helped me with the tone--and the cover designer--who does amazing work. I hope that the story will be both encouraging and informative for graduates and their parents. I'd appreciate it if you could share this with any of your friends who are struggling with student debt, especially in the US.

Cover design by Hannah Perrine Mode
Pay Off: How One Millennial Eliminated Nearly $80,000 in Student Debt in Less Than Five Years
By Shannon Young

In 2009, amid the global financial crisis, 21-year-old Shannon Young graduated from college with a degree in English and more than $80,000 in student debt. Less than five years later, she was completely debt-free. This is her story – a cautionary tale with a surprisingly hopeful outcome. Filled with practical advice and personal experience, Pay Off is an invaluable resource for anyone coming into or out of student debt.

$1.99 on Amazon

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bookspotting (and a giveaway!)

It has been a while since my last bookspotting post, but I'm still keeping my eyes open. I saw a schoolboy carrying a Kindle with the same plain black cover I have down an escalator in Central. Twice this week, I've spotted the same man reading The World is Curved by David M. Smick on my morning commute. Another man had a copy of Everything to Lose in my favorite coffee shop. Recently, I've finished reading Sand by Hugh Howey (awesome) and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (beautiful). Now I'm a little more than halfway through The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

In other news, I saw the cover for my upcoming Kindle Single on student debt this morning! I'm so excited to reveal it soon. If you'd like to be emailed when the book launches, please join my mailing list.

Finally, we are holding a Goodreads giveaway for the Dragonfruit anthology. You can enter to win one of five paperback copies before Launch Day on June 10th!

What are you up to lately? What are people reading in your town?

Monday, May 12, 2014

BABY AND A BACKPACK by my friend Jane Cornelius

I first met Jane Cornelius at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival in the spring of 2011. She was sitting in the front row at a talk for aspiring writers, wearing a huge pair of zebra patterned glasses and taking feverish notes with an oversize pen. I was a volunteer--my strategy for attending as many events as possible without having to pay for tickets--and I'd recently admitted that I was also an aspiring writer.

I don't remember everything the speaker said, but I remember Jane. She was eager to soak in as much advice as she could, asking smart questions and making it clear that she was writing actively, not just dreaming about it. At the end of the talk, the speaker suggested that members of the audience connect with each other, perhaps to form writers' groups. I ended up collecting the email addresses. When I sent out a tentative query to this bunch of strangers about possibly meeting up to talk about writing, Jane was the first to respond.

Jane, another writer named Betsy, and I met at a coffee shop at the bottom of Lan Kwai Fong that has since been replaced with another clothing store, and talked shop. Jane was nearly finished with her second manuscript, a memoir of the year she was abandoned by the father of her child and decided to travel the world with a newborn baby. As she talked about her adventures in Bali, Australia, Hawaii, California, and my home state of Arizona--all with a baby in tow and almost no money--I could hardly believe it. Hers was a life of true adventure. She had a real, high-stakes story--a story that was worth writing.

Soon, I'd get to experience the vibrant, whimsical writing style that is all her own. I'd get to see the determination with which she approached her writing career. And I'd even get to participate as we became critique partners. She asked for help with grammar mechanics and polish; I asked for help with plot and with cutting the boring stuff from my writing. It is thanks to her that my own travel memoir (forthcoming from Blacksmith Books later this year) eventually became interesting and honest enough to send to publishers. Even when Jane moved on to Shanghai, we sent chapters and encouragement back and forth.

Over time, I learned that Jane's life of adventure also had a more difficult, tragic backstory. I got to read her first manuscript, a childhood memoir of when she grew up in the English countryside with a legally insane mother, a pro-wrestler father, and a stepmother who was the Bunny Mother of the Playboy Club. When an editor suggested that Jane combine the two manuscripts, I got to read them again as she weaved her stories into one.

Now, Jane's memoir Baby and a Backpack has been published by The Five Mile Press in Australia. She's on a whirlwind tour of bookstores and media, and I couldn't be more excited for her. Baby and a Backpack is also available worldwide for Kindle, so I recently got to read the story again in its finished form. It packs the same emotional punch even after multiple reads, and I recommend it unequivocally. This is a wonderful book about motherhood, travel, and finding a home in a wild, crazy world. And through this story, you get to know the quirky, inspiring, and brave Jane Cornelius, a woman I am proud to call my friend.
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