The truth.

It may seem like I share a lot about my life on social media, but I don’t always share everything. Today I feel like being a little more honest.

A few years before I began writing, my step-father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The surgery to attempt to remove the tumor left him physically dependent on my mother for everyday tasks because he was no longer able to walk without support. He lost his fine motor skills, so even the tiniest of tasks, like buttoning a shirt, were impossible without assistance. We were not wealthy and the effects of the surgery left him unable to work. It had a huge impact on all of our lives.

My mother couldn’t quit her job because they needed the money. She worked tirelessly to care for him, to pay the bills, to prepare his meals, to provide him with the best possible quality of life she could.

I worked full-time myself, I was a full-time college student and had three small children. I did what I could to help, as did other members of the family, but it wasn’t enough. I’m sure at times it was overwhelming for my mother. But my step-father kept her going because through all of it…through losing his independence, his career, his livelihood…he still smiled. Every day. Even through two more surgeries that would rob him of even more of his physical abilities, he never took her help for granted.

The hardest part of all of it was that even after several years, he continued to need full-time care and she continued to have to work. She would wake up early every morning to cook his food for the day, to help him get situated. For two years she gave up her lunch breaks at work to drive home and care for him. She would then go back to work and come straight home and care for him in the evening and throughout the night, only to get up and do it all again the next day. It was a cycle they would be stuck in for the rest of their lives because the money wasn’t there to improve either of their situations. And at the time, I was not in a position to help them.

I know I say this all the time, but when I wrote my first book, I truly had no expectations.  But after time, I began making enough money from the books I was writing to pay off our bills, but it wasn’t enough to really make a difference in anyone else’s life. It wasn’t until 2013, when Hopeless released, that I began making enough money to help my parents.

One of the absolute greatest moments of my life occurred in January, 2013. I drove to my mother’s work and handed her an envelope. Inside it was a note and a check to cover two years of her salary. The note said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, quit your f*cking job already.”

It was a very emotional moment for both of us because we never thought we would be in a position for something like that to happen. She was finally able to stay home with my father and care for him full-time. It’s been a bumpy road for them with many other health issues that have presented themselves as a result of the brain tumor. One of the hardest things being that they still lived in the same old house they paid $1,000 for when I was four-years-old. A house that hindered my father’s ability to be independent.

About two years ago, with the income from my books, we were able to have a handicap accessible house built for them. My father is no longer confined to the living room. He no longer needs her help to assist him in getting through doorways, into the shower, into bed, etc. He is much more independent now, and while he will always be physically dependent on a walker, he now has a house that has allowed him to be physically dependent on only himself and no one else. It has improved his health tremendously. A few years ago, his health was rapidly declining because we couldn’t afford the care and tools he needed to improve his quality of life. Now he is happier than he’s ever been and in the best physical health he’s been in since his first brain surgery.

I’m sharing all of this because a lot of people know my life has changed financially. You see my posts and know that I don’t live in a trailer house anymore. You see my posts and know that I get to travel. But what you don’t see is the true impact you have had on my family. When you buy a book for entertainment, you probably don’t think about where your money is going. Or maybe you do, but you never think about how your support has actually saved lives. I am convinced my step-father would not be with us right now if you guys wouldn’t have given my books a chance.

Throughout the last few years, a lot of lives have been changed through reading, especially in this genre and with the newfound avenue of self-publishing.

A lot of authors have done wonderful things for charities. I’ve seen authors give up entire release month sales and donate them to charity. A lot have done wonderful things for their families. And none of this would be possible without the readers who support them.

The Bookworm Box wasn’t created for more publicity, more recognition or more success. It was created because I saw firsthand how this industry and the readers in it can make a huge difference in the lives of individuals. And what a huge difference you’ve made! $600,000 raised and donated in the past year. MANY lives changed and even a few lives saved.

My mother sent me this text this morning.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 1.51.36 PM

It is what got me thinking about this entire industry as a whole, and how very, very grateful I am for it. It’s beautiful to see how much the career you guys have enabled me to continue has changed my mother and father’s lives this drastically.

Just in the past few months alone in my Facebook newsfeed, I’ve seen several authors doing huge things with their income. They are buying groceries and school supplies for their readers, some are donating a portion of their sales to various charities, some are matching proceeds by purchasing immunizations and vaccines, some are donating books and proceeds to The Bookworm Box in order to benefit various charities. And I wish I could tell you how many in this industry have privately donated to our charity and have requested they not be named publicly. It’s a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.

If you have a positive story to share about this industry and the impact it has had on you, share it. Whether you share it publicly or thank someone privately, make sure the people who have impacted your life know they have done so.

On behalf of my family and my parents…thank you. Every day, we thank you.

 

SIGNED copies up for sale, along with book plates!

I have a very limited number of signed copies of It Ends With Us up in the online store for sale. We ship internationally, but that’s a lot of shipping costs. To offset that, I’ve also put up an option for international readers to purchase signed book plates.

While you’re there, check out these shirts inspired by It Ends With Us!

 

 

My thoughts on trigger warnings.

 

I want to discuss trigger warnings.

A lot of books have them. If the book deals with a sensitive subject that might be a trigger to a traumatic past event, a lot of readers like to know beforehand. However, what if that trigger is part of the plot?

What if the writer doesn’t want you to know that the book deals with rape? Or murder? Or extramarital affairs? Or domestic violence? Or cancer? Or the death of a child? What if the reading experience would be ruined if one of these issues was not meant to be revealed before reading the book?

I’ve received a lot of feedback, not only for It Ends With Us, but for every novel I’ve written. Many readers are thankful they know nothing about the book, or the experiences the characters have, before reading. However, some readers have stated they wish they were aware beforehand.

As a fellow reader with my fair share of past experiences, I understand that there are issues some people do not want to read about. But as a writer, there are many things I don’t want revealed in the blurbs of my books.

I’ve been faulted for this on more than one occasion and with more than one of my books. I’ve stated many times in the past that I write about real life issues. Realistically, life is not sunshine and rainbows. A lot of ugly shit happens and my books deal with both the good AND the bad.

I’ve killed infants. I’ve given characters cancer. I’ve written about molestation, rape, abuse, death, affairs, etc. And most of the time, these things are a part of the plot. As a writer, I feel if I were to put in the blurb of a book that it specifically deals with cancer, or infant death, or abuse, then the reader will be waiting for that to happen as they read the book. The majority of readers don’t want to know a single thing about books before going into it, so is it fair to lay out what might happen in the book before people read it?

Yes, there are readers who want to know specifics before going into a book and I truly hate that anyone relates to negative aspects in fiction. But as an author, I choose not to reveal in my blurbs which specific emotional traumas my characters will face. My books do state in the ebook blurb if it contains graphic material or sensitive subject matter, but it does not specify exactly what that subject matter will be.

If you are a reader who avoids certain subjects because they can be a trigger to your past (or present), I urge you to avoid my books, because they are extremely emotional and touch on a lot of sensitive or unpleasant things. If you don’t want to avoid my books, feel free to email me beforehand and I’ll be happy to let you know what the book relates to. Or ask in my Facebook group and an admin will be happy to message you with regard to what the book deals with.

I want my readers to enjoy reading my books, even though sometimes I like for that joy to be experienced with a lot of heartache in the form of plot twists. It’s just how I’ve always written and will probably be how I will always write. I’ve received quite a number of negative reviews in relation to the lack of a trigger warning for the subject matter of It Ends With Us, and for writing about such unhappy things. I understand this and accept these reviews. If readers read the book and have a negative experience, they are within their right to leave a negative review. It’s part of the writing process and I completely understand this. I don’t want anyone to take away from this post feeling as if their negative feelings toward this or any of my other books is wrong.

But for the sake of all past and future books written by me, I want to say that there are triggers in all of them for almost everything. If you need warnings, there are plenty of reviews that lay out the entire plot, but I’m also writing this post to say that if you don’t like emotional reads or touchy subjects, it is probably best to avoid my books entirely. Also, if you’re wanting information on what subjects It Ends With Us deals with, the editorial review section, just under the blurb on Amazon and other sites, relays the plot in great detail, as do many of the early reviews on Goodreads.

Yes, as the author, I prefer my readers to go in blind. I write my books in such a way that I feel the majority of people benefit from the reading experience more if they go in blind. I don’t put specific trigger warnings directly in my blurb, and I more than likely never will.  If there’s a chance a certain subject is a trigger for you, take this as my warning that you should definitely seek out spoilers before reading my books.

Also, I’m very sorry to anyone who has issues with trigger warnings, because that means you’ve experienced trauma in the past. I hate that. If it were a perfect world, none of us would need trigger warnings. I completely understand the need for them, which is why I am writing this post. I don’t want to upset anyone through the experience of reading my books, but at the same time I don’t want to ruin the reading experience for the majority of readers. I feel this blanket trigger warning for all of my future novels is a good balance, until the publishing system can be updated to provide a specific place for warnings without revealing the plot for all readers.

Sincerely,

Colleen Hoover