Life is hard. Writing is harder. That’s not exactly a profound truth, but it definitely isn’t wrong.

That said, it’s important to support and encourage writers. Buy their books. Write reviews on Amazon, Barbes & Noble, Goodreads, or any book site that will let you. Honestly, reviews–or even just a rating if you aren’t in a wording state of mind–are incredibly important to writers, even if they aren’t so kind to their egos.

Also, though I’ll never be one to discourage readers from buying their books on Amazon (especially if you use Smile and designate a nonprofit to donate a portion of your sale to, like say Broadleaf Writers Association, INC for instance!), please do try to support your local independent bookstore as often as you can. These are folks who live and breathe books, can offer you recommendations like they’re snatching chips of out a bag, and work tirelessly for very little money because they believe in the importance of books.

You can find The Weight of Ashes, for example, at any of the fine stores in the Atlanta area. At A Cappella Books, Eagle Eye Book Shop, FoxTale Book Shoppe, Little Shop of Stories, Tall Tales, Story on the Square, and any of the others I’ve managed to forget to list here. Even if a book isn’t in stock, they can order it and have it shipped to you. Same if you live in any part of the world not named Atlanta, Georgia. Easy peasy!

Happy reading!

Perfectly Normal

July 18, 2023 (The Story Plant)

For sixteen-year-old Nate Alexander, music is more than sound. It’s a symphony of color, vibrant and beautiful, a blessing and a curse. For all that he may love about living with Chromesthesia, however, the added weight of undiagnosed autism clutters his life daily, turning school into a trial of his oddness, social encounters into a jumble of confusion, and leaving him on uneven footing with a father determined to make him more “normal.”

The arrival of Julian Mack, an openly gay new student quickly gaining the attention of bullies, draws Nate into a friendship that tests the limits of what he can endure. Absorbed by the need to please Julian, Nate is quickly at odds with his best friend Michelle and her efforts to protect him. As Nate struggles to find what meaning music has in his life, rumors about him swirl around school, leaving him to decide between defending Julian and his reputation or the safety and comfort of his haven of music and color.

Written with deep sensitivity and the rare ability to bring the little-understood to life, Perfectly Normal is a resounding work of fiction that might bring new color to your world.

The Weight of Ashes

Nominated for 2021 Georgia Author of the Year, Literary Fiction

After a car accident claims his older brother’s life, Mark Murphy’s world is turned upside down. The silence of their shared bedroom, the memories of Mitch’s guidance, and his mother’s drunken spiral are constant reminders of the cost of his absence. But Mark isn’t ready to grieve. He isn’t ready to accept that his brother is truly gone. Despite the insistence of the adults in his life that he accept Mitch’s death, Mark is undeterred.

They don’t know what he knows.

They don’t know the story of the Witch on Spook Hill.

Aided by his loyal band of misfit friends, Mark’s plan to carry Mitch’s ashes to the witch is complicated by the pursuit of the town sheriff and the cousin responsible for his brother’s death. With no time to regroup, Mark and his friends must navigate the dangerous path to Spook Hill before the sun sets, so that Mitch can be resurrected in exchange for the life of the one who took it.

Read a letter from Zachary Steele, on his reasoning and thought behind writing The Weight of Ashes.