I Started This Before the World Went Nuts
To get a jump on this month’s newsletter, I’d written the first paragraph a few weeks ago. Now I can’t even stand to read what was on my mind then. What was I worried about? Getting blurbs for my summer release? What to wear to my sister’s wedding?
I’m scared that someone I love will get sick or worse. I’m worried about the people of our country suffering unimaginable losses.
If there is anything I can do to help you during this terrible time, please reach out.
I am trying to do my part by self-containing. I haven’t been out of the house for fourteen days. I live in a fairly remote part of New York State, but we have the most cases in the country and are now the epicenter. I’m hoping that by being strict about isolation we can keep people in vulnerable groups safe, and also ourselves.
I’ve also begun a distance writers group for kids and teens! We’re starting small, but over the coming months, I’ll let you know if we open it up to more participants.
What Weird Thing Do I Miss Most?
I know how privileged this will sound, but almost every night since this started, I’ve dreamed I was in a restaurant, eating something delicious. It’s not like I went to restaurants all the time before the pandemic, but now I travel to one almost every night in my dreams.
Once, I ate a salad covered in flower blossoms. Now that I’m writing it out, I suppose this longing of mine is symbolic and a little less privileged than I first thought.
I miss contact with strangers. I miss normalcy. I miss a world that feels like it both disappeared in an instant…and could be gone forever.
Books Will Get Us Through
I recently read Jennifer McMahon’s The Invited—spooky and somehow all-too-real—and was honored when another of my favorite authors, whose work I’ve admired for years, sent me an advance copy of her forthcoming book. If you haven’t pre-ordered Heather Gudenkauf’s This Is How I Lied, I highly recommend you do. It’s a taut and twisty tale!
Here are a few books I can’t wait for, in isolation or not. Jodi Picoult’s The Book of Two Ways (written with a structure I envy); Lisa Unger’s Confessions on the 7:45 (how ferocious is that title??); Paul Doiron’s One Last Lie (this series uses nature as intensely as I aim to); Linda Castillo’s Outsider (I am completely compelled by this Amish mystery series).
Carol Goodman’s launch for The Sea of Lost Girls was the last outside event I attended before everything shut down. They sold through her books and my signed copy is at the store! This is how it feels to have a book I’m longing to read be out-of-reach: like having an itch on a part of my back I can’t get to.
I’m ordering books from Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, NY. Small business as we know are really struggling right now. If you have a favorite independent bookstore you’re supporting, please share it!
Do I Still Have My Own Book Coming Out?
My publisher is putting my tour together as I type. Book lovers are optimists, and I have every hope that I’ll get to see some of you IRL this summer, and we’ll even be able to trade a handshake or hug.
The Second Mother has drawn blurbs from some fiction greats—real writer’s bucket list items. I will tell you who they are in my next letter!
The bravery of people on the frontlines during this pandemic--nurses, doctors, first responders, more--is breathtaking. But writers can be pretty brave too, and Darla Lark's Spotlight demonstrates the kind of emotional bravery that can give birth to great books.
Three years ago the idea came to me in the middle of the night. It included a mysterious antique mirror, murder, animosity between family members, and a twisted family secret. A major loss in my life hit me hard in 2014 and I wasn’t handling it very well even after a couple of years. I didn’t know how to express my pain and anger about the situation except to write it out, which terrified me because I was allowing people to see my feelings on paper. I was also feeling like a fraud who called myself a writer. Like I wasn't good enough. That was a huge suck on my energy. With the support of fellow authors and a loving husband, I persevered.
Then I became depressed and put my book on hold for two years. One day I woke up with the fog lifted when I realized I could help others by expressing myself through my story. This story was all I could think about, making me realize I had a purpose: to write a story to let others know that things will be okay even if it doesn’t feel like it. And that it’s okay to not be okay. Suddenly my fingers were moving over the keyboard. Between the stops and starts, I finally got Mirror To Fear written. I identify with my main character, Callie James, because she goes through some tough situations, but is stronger than she believes.
Ode to Joy
Let's call it "physical" vs "social" isolation, okay? These newsletters give us a chance to connect whether or not we’re contained. Hearing back from so many of you after I send a letter out is one of the high points of my month. Now it’s a joy from the “old way” that doesn’t have to shut down or temporarily close. But before you write me, please give this a listen.
I will be thinking of you all and fervently hoping you and yours stay safe and well. May we always find ways to connect and always, always remember the joy.
Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,