It's September first! First off, how the heck did that happen? Second off, we're just two weeks away from The Skeleton King! I feel like I've been torturing you guys with the teasers, and while I don't know if this will make it worse or better, I wanted to share the first two chapters of the novel. Let the countdown begin!
As mentioned previously, I've got a great big To Be Read list of books. Now that I'm not so under the gun with TSK, I'm excited to delve into some new books. Since the list is less than manageable, today I'm sharing ten #FridayReads.
1. Currently, I'm reading Lock & Key by my lovely fellow Indie Author Cat Porter. I'm so hooked, as soon as I finish it...
8. The Shadows by J.R. Ward. I've held off on this one because I know there's a tragic ending, but when The Beast came up for preorder, I realized I'd have to suffer through the sadness. You have to read each book in her series to get the full details of each character's story, and I personally love that intricacy.
9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I didn't read Gone Girl, and at this point, I've been spoiled about the twist, so I don't know that I want to. But I perused a sample and loved her prose, so I decided to read her debut.
10. Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, because I want to read his entire library of work, and because the Classics keep my writing mind sharp.
So that's just 10! There's lots more to get to, and even a few I want to revisit, old friends who need rereading at Christmas. I'm always on the lookout for awesome new books, so recommendations are welcome.
I've been thinking a lot lately about that insatiable need for stories. I don't have time for all the stories I want to read, to write. Sometimes, it seems that the crazier the world gets, the more necessary the escape of fiction becomes. I've had non-readers (I'm talking people who don't read anything, which I really can't fathom; how do you NOT read??) tell me they think fiction is harmful, because it isn't real, and because it's all just made up.
After I swallow down my choking anger, I tell them this:
None of us would read fiction if it wasn't completely, painfully real. If it didn't suckerpunch us, make us cry; fill us with warmth, make us laugh. We are reading about people who don't technically exist - and sometimes they possess powers and embark on adventures impossible - but we see ourselves in them. In the world of a fiction novel, we see our best friends, our mothers, fathers, siblings; we see that mysterious loner we always wondered about; the boss who didn't cut us enough slack when we were trying to work and go to school. We see the people who populate our daily lives, and people we know from the World Stage. And through our fictional friends, we wrestle with every sort of horror life can dish out...and every sort of joy.
And here's where fiction is magical: the happy ending. The satisfaction of resolution. We wake up in the mornings, and our TVs, and news feeds are full of horrific tragedies and terrible occurrences. Life is hectic, and sometimes it squeezes the breath out of us. At the end of a long day, when we're tired and sour, those few minutes of reading before bed, that total escapism, can be so important and heartwarming. Because in fiction, we aren't denying reality, merely tweaking it a little, for our emotional benefit. We can cheer for the good guys, we can swoon over the love stories. We can fall asleep a little easier. Any book that makes a reader feel happiness - that's an important book.
It's such a simple thing, an essential one, I think. To fall into a story. Let it enfold and comfort us.
That's what I think, anyway. And I'm a shameless bookworm.
I missed Music Monday yesterday - I've been doing that a lot lately! So, better late than never - I love Carrie Underwood's new single, and it's a great fit for TSK. Also, the title makes me smile, thinking about the next book - y'all will know why in a few weeks when Skeleton comes out.
I woke to thunder this morning. Not an angry, storm, but a lazy one, heavy rain falling straight down, sky murmuring overhead. Sleeping weather. Reading weather. Novel weather. I slipped out of a vivid dream that went hazy immediately, but one whose echoes lingered.
It's funny - I always tell myself I'm going to take a break after I finish a book. But by the time the finish comes, I'm filled again with that hollow sense that I can never do enough, and that I'm losing time, and that maybe this time, readers won't wait for the next tale. So maybe that's why I was struck by the urge to write this morning. It's easy, in the weeks before a book releases, to lose touch with the part of yourself that thrives on the art of it all. I miss it. I want to be creative again.
I'm going to take a little breather, though, even if I already feel the narcotic pull of writing. I need to read. I need to calm my thoughts. I need to catch up on things I've missed during this mad deadline dash. I want to blog more; I want to be back in the loop - and keep you guys in the loop better! I've got my launch party and a speaking engagement coming up, and I want to be more mentally present, not so stuck in bookland.
I feel a little like rambling today, so perhaps you'll indulge me. You probably saw on FB that my initial proofs of Skeleton arrived yesterday. *Happy dance* I'm thrilled with how it turned out, because you never really know. Sometimes an image looks a certain way on your computer, and then you get the hard copy, and it doesn't have the "wow" factor. I always think it will stop feeling like Christmas, the arrival of a first proof, but it never does. To touch it, flip through it, smell the fresh ink - magic, always.
I'm reading it carefully now, doing line edits, and as per usual, the first time I read it in its bound book format, the story comes at me from a different angle, feeling less like something I've slaved over and more like something I'm experiencing as a reader. It's a fun book - that's what I'm going to call it. It has its own unique feel because Emmie is neither born of the club, nor seeking its assistance. And Walsh is quiet and thoughtful, but in a way so unlike Michael. I'm enjoying watching their story unfold from the outside this time around; theirs is a smart, punchy story, with some major Aidan and Tango teasers weaved throughout.
That's what I really wanted to touch on, with this rambling. The road ahead.
There have been some dissatisfied rumblings, readers wishing this book wasn't Walsh's, that I had gone straight to Aidan or Tango's book instead. The word "ugh" has been used. I understand the frustration, I do. They've been teased for a while, and there are deep histories and high emotions there that will make for wonderful drama. But for one, I've learned not to mess with the muse. Things don't go so well when I do that. The story has to come at an authentic pace, and the muse must be kept happy, or he clams up and won't talk to me. For two, Skeleton HAD to happen first. I promise you, on every level, Aidan's book could NOT happen without this book coming first. Not merely from a plot standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint. That leads us to point three - Aidan has had lots of growing up to do.
Confession time - I'm not attracted to young men, largely because they're not fascinating. To tell me that a man is young, hot, all muscled-up, and dirty-talking - that does nothing for me. I want to want to be inside his head. I want to feel for him. So the older, more mature characters with history are much more enjoyable to write. I wanted Aidan to get to a place where deep reflection, self-actualization, and a dawning maturity could lend some fascination to his story. I wanted his novel to be about him becoming a man in a serious way; I wanted it to be full of history and gravity, and so he's had to wait. But we're getting there, and it's going to be good, I promise you.
The next two books are going to be BIG. They're going to be dark, and heavy, and harken back to some of that Fearless epic-ness that I can't wait to dive back into. So it is my sincerest hope that you'll enjoy Walsh and Emmie, and that you'll hold on with me, because the wait will be so worthwhile.
I started my day with such an awesome Starbucks meeting; I can't wait to share what that was about when it gets closer to time. I'm currently experiencing a Frappuccino hangover (this is how people get hooked on coffee, seriously) and doing office-y things at my desk.
In my book rush the last couple of months, I've lost track of the passage of time. I noticed this this weekend: changing leaves! Just the very tops of the maples, but I see you up there, orange edges. And falling leaves! It's still hot and muggy, but it doesn't really feel like summer anymore.
I've got a great big TBR list I'm hoping to get into in a few weeks, because I miss my dedicated reading. Last week, my book club discussed August's pick, Far From The Madding Crowd, and I wish I'd had more time to really savor this sumptuous, gorgeous book.
Thomas Hardy is a favorite of mine - he represents the pinnacle of English literature (when you're talking novels), and his cleverness shimmers off the page. The way he balances characters of varying social strata, and the way he uses prose as an artist would oil paints - divine. A novel like Madding Crowd, with its blend of artistry and human realism makes me feel both useless as a writer, and completely inspired. Though I didn't have much time to read, it came along at the right moment, and I'm glad I could squeeze it in.