Tijuana Fulford in her Riverhead office with her newly published book Thursday. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Tijuana Fulford has never been one to shy away from difficult conversations. In fact, she initiates them.

The dynamic founder of The Butterfly Effect Project, a Riverhead-based organization that aims to empower girls in underserved communities, and a certified life coach, Fulford stresses the importance of open dialogue about difficult issues, of “being able to openly say what you feel without being shamed for your thoughts or experience.”

Fulford has encouraged that kind of dialogue in her mentoring of the children involved in The Butterfly Effect Project, an organization she started in 2014 with eight girls that’s grown to over 500 girls (and boys) in 17 chapters in Suffolk County.

“I wanted to create an opportunity to have these courageous conversations in the school system as well as at your dinner table, without there being a right or wrong answer,” Fulford said in an interview Thursday. She was looking to create a conversation-starter, a tool for initiating those courageous conversations.

Fulford came up with the idea of a book that would present a situation, provide all the facts, and then rely on readers to essentially write the ending — a novella with “a cliffhanger” ending, she said. “And they have to figure out, what would they do? How would they handle that? And giving them all the information and letting them unpack the story.”

That’s how “My Fabricated Truth” was born. It’s a series of five novellas, each dealing with an individual difficult subject — including race, LBGTQ issues, drug addiction and abortion —written to allow readers, in conversation, to develop the outcomes.

The books are intended for teens and young women. Fulford conceived the series as a tool that can by used by schools and organizations working with young people — and by book clubs. They are short — Fulford said each novella will run no longer than about 65 pages.

“I strive for each chapter to be very engaging and short and to the point, so when you’re done with that chapter, you’re like, wow,” Fulford said. “I want people to read the book in two days, or on their lunch break — like I want them to really get involved with the book and really have a lot of different takeaways from it, not just one. I want them to get to know the character and to see someone they know in that character.” Everyone will have a different takeaway, Fulford said.

The first book in the “My Fabricated Truth” series was published last month. “The Time My Mirror Deceived Me” deals with the subject of race. Told in the first person, the main character, Tina, is a pregnant woman who learns something about herself through routine pregnancy screening tests. The information rocks her world, challenging her beliefs about herself to their very core.

Tina’s mother tells her, “Some things have a way of revealing themselves.”

But once those things are revealed, what do you do with them? That’s the essence of the dilemma that faces Tina — and the courageous-conversation starter of “The Time My Mirror Deceived Me.”

The book is available on Amazon.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.