October has been a busy, fun, productive, and beautiful month. The air is crisp, the leaves look like they’re a second away from catching fire, the Halloween candy has been purchased (and eaten already—sorry, trick-or-treaters)… and there are basically two months until FIRSTS comes out.
Funnily enough, I’m not nearly as stressed out about that as I thought I would be. I feel like after months of struggling to achieve some sort of mental balance, I’m finally there. (Well, most days I’m mostly there, anyway. On the “other” days, you can find me zoned out in front of Netflix in ratty pajamas.) After being inspired by this article, I’m not as glued to my social media and have been focusing on creating instead.
October has also been a month of firsts for FIRSTS. First trade reviews, first giveaways, first book trailer. I want to thank everyone who has shown me such tremendous support and excitement for FIRSTS. I’m overwhelmed by your generosity and want to hug every single one of you. The writing community is beyond amazing, and I’m so grateful!
This month, I have been…
Working on: I’m still revising the same WIP that was giving me grief last month, and fast-drafting something else that has that same magical ease to it that FIRSTS did. It’s the first project I have drafted since then wherein the voice has been something I can slip into and understand almost immediately, right down to the character’s core. (Hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself!) Now that I’m making sure I carve out time for new writing every day, my head feels so much clearer than it did in previous months. I think this is helping me to get into a groove and stoke my creativity, which is exactly what I needed to feel like myself again.
Reading: October has spoiled me for Sweet Sixteens ARCs. I have been so lucky to be able to read five incredible debuts over the past month, each of which I’m so excited about. I’ll be posting reviews of these books closer to their release dates, but here’s a bit about each to tantalize you!
First up was a trio of books by my Sixteen to Read sisters, starting with SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS by Darcy Woods. In this one-of-a-kind debut, Wilamena Carlisle puts her faith in the stars. But when Wil fears that her Fifth House—the house of relationships and love—is doomed, she’s on a mission to find her perfect astrological match before time runs out. Problem is, she falls for two brothers—one whom the charts deem right, and the other who couldn’t be more wrong. And Wil made a promise to honor her mother’s legacy, so she’s not taking any chances with cosmically doomed love.
Next up was CROSSING THE LINE by Meghan Rogers. In this action-packed thriller, Jocelyn Steely was kidnapped when she was just a little girl and made to work as a spy in North Korea. When her agency sends her to infiltrate the group her spy parents once worked for in the United States, Jocelyn sees an opportunity for freedom—and to expose KATO, her North Korean agency, for its horrible practices and robbing kids like her of their childhoods. But Jocelyn doesn’t exactly get a warm welcome in the United States—especially not from the agent known as Scorpion, a boy she has faced off with in the field more than once. With barely anyone trusting her, Jocelyn has to finish what she started—and uncover new and unsettling information in the process.
Then came SUFFER LOVE by Ashley Herring Blake, a book I had long been suffering for (can’t promise I won’t use that pun again… sorry!). It’s the stunning story of hurt, betrayal, secrets, and two broken families after an affair and a door littered with ugly slips of paper, and the raw emotion from the fallout literally emanates from the pages. Star-crossed lovers Hadley and Sam are angry and sad and feel like their worlds have been altered beyond repair, and they find some solace in their attraction to each other and the connection that follows. But Sam knows what Hadley doesn’t and keeping this huge truth from her may ruin everything.
THE WAY I USED TO BE by Amber Smith was a debut I was coveting since I first heard about it. And I’m still at a loss for words when I try to describe it. After her brother’s best friend—someone she thought she trusted, someone she once thought she loved—rapes her, Eden buries the truth, along with the person she used to be. Told in four parts, from Eden’s freshman to senior years of high school, allows the reader to see that nothing goes away.
I finished the month with SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin. Protagonist Riley Cavanaugh, is gender fluid and identifies as both a boy and a girl, depending on the day. Some mornings, Riley wakes up and feels more girl; others, Riley’s compass is pointing toward boy. Although Riley’s parents don’t know the truth, Riley starts a blog anonymously, under the name “Alix,” to share what it’s like to be a gender fluid teenager. As Alix, Riley is open and honest and real, and begins to realize the number of gender fluid and LGBT people looking for someone who understands—but Riley is still waiting for the right time to come out in real life. To add to this, Riley has just transferred schools and struck up a friendship—and maybe more— with enigmatic Bec, who has secrets of her own.
Watch this space for more about each of these brave, original, brilliant books!
Watching: My husband and I fell into the rabbit hole that is Scandal and we are basically obsessed. Twisty plot, political intrigue, and high stakes aside, I would watch just to covet the beautiful Kerry Washington’s enviable collection of Prada bags and gorgeous coats. Seriously, can I please borrow Olivia Pope’s wardrobe?
While I’m not looking forward to the impending snow (if I ignore it, will it not happen?) and cold weather, I am excited for what the next couple of months will bring. Soon, I’ll be sharing something really fun related to FIRSTS that I’ve been working on for awhile and bursting to let you all in on… so stay tuned!