reaching out

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me.

I have a thing for colored sand.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved colored sand. I loved colored sand in kindergarten when we glued it to popsicle sticks. I loved colored sand at Great Adventure and Asbury Park when we poured it into tall, clear bottles to make sand birds. I loved colored sand enough to order 10 different colors of it and make those sand birds again as a camp activity when I was an arts and crafts director. I just adore the vibrant colors, the smooth feel, the infinite ways it allows you to express yourself. Basically, colored sand rules.

So when I was walking to the doctor’s and trying not to stress about the part of my annual physical where they take blood because needles have, like, the opposite effect of colored sand, I cannot explain to you how ecstatic I was to encounter:

Joe Mangrum sand painting

Artwork with colored sand! Exclusively! It made me so immensely happy to find another person who also feels a bond with colored sand. I felt such a strong connection to this sand painting. Of course I ran up to the artist all like, “I LOVE colored sand!” Naturally, he understood. The amazing artist behind this gorgeous creation is Joe Mangrum. Colored sand is his most recent medium of choice. You can check out his incredible sand paintings and other works of art on his website.

I told Joe I’d be back after my appointment to see the progress of his sand painting. He had a huge crowd, but I found a space and sat and watched Joe work. I could have watched all day. Hot pink sand was touching turquoise sand. The effect was electric. By the time I left, the piece looked like this:

Joe Mangrum sand painting

I can’t wait to run into Joe creating another sand painting! I know the Universe will make it possible.

Something else touched my soul recently. A reader’s mom sent me this email (which I am posting with her permission):

Dear Susane:

When I bought my fourteen year old daughter the book Waiting for You, it just sounded like a good read. She has liked your other books and I love to find good YA for her to read.

I was totally blown away when I picked the book up after she had had it for a few weeks and saw she had highlited many lines…unfortunately about suicide. I had no idea that these thoughts were in her head and she obviously didn’t know how to tell me. I think having your book gave her the opportunity to bring her troubles to my attention (she left the book out on the kitchen island).

We talked about what was going on and I have made an appointment for her to talk to a therapist. Neither of those things would’ve happened I believe without you.

So I just wanted to say thanks. I’m a writer myself, and I hope as I continue to work on my craft, I can connect with readers the same way you do.

You rock!

I’m relieved that my reader was able to reach out for help in a way that worked for her. Talking about hard issues can be really embarrassing – even impossible for lots of people. As someone who was never able to talk about hard issues with anyone as a teen, I can relate. This is a reminder that there’s more than one way to reach out for help. And there are so many ways to make a difference in this world. Whether you’re creating art that speaks to others or finally deciding to get the help you need, you are making a difference.

It’s easy to forget how strongly our words and actions can affect others. Something that means nothing to you could mean the world to someone else. We are all connected. We can all create the change we desire.

How will you?

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18 thoughts on “reaching out

  1. I discovered Joe Mangrum over the summer and was totally amazed, too! I first saw him at work in Washington Square Park, but he also paints at Union Square, Columbus Circle, and other places around Manhattan. I’ve never seen anything else like his sand paintings.
    Wow. Books can save lives.

    • NO. WAY. I knew we were kindred spirits, but here you go amazing me again. You’ve already discovered Joe! I don’t know why it took me so long to find him. I live two blocks from Washington Square Park and walk by Union Square all the time. Now that I know, I will always be on the lookout for Joe.

  2. This post made me happy, then sad, then happy again!
    The artwork is so beautiful! I thought he was using chalk. I can’t believe he did all that with colored chalk!
    Waiting For You is my favorite book by you. I could really relate to the MC’s problems with depression and anxiety. I think you did an incredible job with that book. I’m so happy someone was able to use it to help them get help.

      • Your next book…
        The heroine (It’s late and I hope I didn’t just spell heroin, will check in the morning…later morning) of your next book is going to be crazy about this cat, Joe. I can feel it. #TheKnowing

  3. wow that sand art is freakin’ incredible! i vaguely remember a time when my little sister and I had a sand art kit those were fun times πŸ™‚
    I just got to hang out with my old college roommate (swear we were separated at birth-kindred spirits) for the first time in 4 or 5 years and it was so great! We created all sorts of positive energy πŸ™‚

  4. I’m back! Love the colored sand photos! Have you seen those books with photos of all the crazy chalk drawings that have so much perspective it looks like you’re falling into a river or off a skyscraper or something? Kinda reminds me of that.
    The letter from a teen’s mom is so powerful. Amazing that her mom was able to recognize what she was feeling through the lines in your book. I’m glad she’s got a support system behind her. This is one of the many reasons you became an author, yeah!!
    OH! BTW, I think you’re friends with David Leviathan, and I am going to see him speak at Lit Day in Florida… it’s a Harry Potter conference, but there’s a special day with publishers, editors, authors, and literary agents of YA and children’s books, which of course is right up my alley! Finding it really ironic that I will probably get to meet Sarah and David at different times this year, but not you! I thought your tour would make it to Chicagoland, but no luck (unless something’s changed since I last read your blog… I’m going backwards). (Also, on a personal note… I’m going to the conference with a pretty large group of new friends from the area who were really welcoming… it is so great to have local friends who value friendship and give back… it’s what I hoped to discover after moving here!)

    • I am friends with David! He’s one of the most brilliant writers ever. On a whole other level, that one.
      Actually, it looks like I might be coming to Chicago in June! We’re working on adding one more event. So you might be meeting all three of us after all. Stay tuned…
      That’s awesome about your new group of friends. I’m so happy you’ve created such an amazing new life for yourself πŸ™‚

      • Oh, EXCELLENT!!! The last week of June is insane for me, because I’ve got old friends coming, and we’ve got ten years worth of issues to work through, and all sorts of reconciling hopefully, but any other time in June is probably fine. Not that you’re scheduling around me. Just saying. LOL.
        I can’t wait to meet you – I know it’ll happen at some point, hopefully sooner than later! πŸ™‚

  5. so…
    1. that art piece was crazy cool. thanks for sharing
    2. your reader’s mom is so cool for encouraging YA books like that and
    3. i’m so glad your reader’s okay.
    happy tuesday, Susane!

  6. oh! and by the way, your fourteen-year-old isn’t the only one who your books have helped. your books (and not just your books, but all my favorite books) have helped me out in more ways than one.
    thanks.

  7. This completely blow my mind. 1) How does he have the patience (and such a steady hand!) to do that?? 2) How did the wind not blow it all away? SO COOL.
    And I totally agree with you on Colored Sand = Major Love. Another fun thing? Eraser dust. I know it’s bizarre but my best friend and I spent the better part of sixth grade giggling in the back of the classroom and erasing erasers bought for five cents at the school store. I still have the tupperware container full of it, and I do mean FULL. There is a LOT or eraser dust in there and the soft texture and pastel colors are awesome :-).

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