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January 13, 2020
Uff da. It’s been a ride these past two weeks. Unspeakable Things released on January 1. Its sales and reviews have exceeded my wildest expectations, including a #1 spot in the UK. I’ve received many kind emails and not a single mean one. My launch party was standing room only, and Once Upon a Crime was packed with old friends, new friends, and one woman who wanted me to feel bad for mentioning her hometown (which is also my hometown) in the Author’s Note.
I don’t feel bad. I feel proud. Proud of telling my story as autobiographical fiction, grateful for the beautiful people in my life (Tony, Xander, Zoe, Susie, Carolyn, Sandy, Erica Ruth, Lori, Cindy, Christine, Stacy, Jim, Matt, Terri, you’re some of the best), relieved to discover that the worst thing isn’t telling the truth, as some in my family and that woman from Paynesville and so many others want us to believe. The worst thing is living on the surface and pretending the past doesn’t affect us, staying silent, accepting the shame of others as our own. That’s a life half-lived, and I’m not doing that anymore.
Telling my story has been terrifying and marvelous and freeing. (A great therapist and a supportive ACA group hasn’t hurt, either.) I want to thank you, readers, for being so welcoming to this dark tale. And for those of you who want the Unspeakable Things epilogue, I’ll always have it available here and will talk to my publisher about getting it in a future edition of the book. It was my choice to pull it in the first place, and in hearing from readers, it was not my best move. I apologize to those who would have liked it in the book in the first place.
Now, I’m planning to pull back from social media, blogging, and touring for a bit. I’ve been living an exposed life the past two months. It’s time for me to hibernate, spend more time with my husband and son and foster kittens, and listen for the next story. I still have a few events coming up, as well as marvelous women's writing retreats, with the next one this May in Colorado. And there's always room for you here, where all stories are welcome.
December 4, 2019
My amazing publisher, Thomas & Mercer, Kindle Firsted UNSPEAKABLE THINGS on December 1, and I'm overwhelmed by the response. The book has been #1 since Sunday! This small-town Minnesota girl who grew up with snarly hair and bad teeth doesn't know how to process that sort of success. I'm trying to take it in small doses and remind myself that the book is no longer mine. It belongs to you, the reader.
That's why I pulled the epilogue from the book before publication. I knew how I wanted Cassie's future to go, where her dad and mom and sister ended up, what happened to Goblin and Bauer, but once you went through it all with her, I thought you deserved your own version. I've heard from a few readers that they'd like to see my take on it, though. If you're one of them, I've got you covered. Here is the epilogue I pulled from UNSPEAKABLE THINGS before publication. Please don't read it until you've read the book, as it contains spoilers.
Thanks for reading.
November 25, 2019
Recently, I read an article about what workers from the future will look like. To be honest, I didn’t read the closely. I was too horrified by the life-sized model—sallow skin, wide hips, neck curved like a drooped flower—demonstrating how the human body will devolve if we look to screens rather than the sun for our sustenance.
I immediately sat up straighter, but that wasn’t enough, so I stood and did something physical for the rest of the day. But of course I returned to my computer. I had a book to write, a book that’d been giving me terrible trouble. My editor sent the first version back. It was a blow to my ego, my calendar (I had other projects I needed to get started on), and my body (more time in that computer chair). Plus—despite it being my 19th novel—I’d made up my mind I couldn’t figure out the rewrites, and maybe couldn’t finish the book.
Because of that article, and a hundred imaginary neck pains I’d felt since I read it, after weeks of struggling against self-doubt and getting little editing done, I decided to pull out my laptop and move to another room in my house to write. It was less convenient. (I couldn’t bring all my notes with me.) It was less comfortable. (I moved between a couch and a chair.)
And it was my breakthrough. Literally the second I moved, new ideas started flowing, and I saw the path, finally, that book was meant to take. The only thing that changed was my literal perspective when writing. I know having rooms to choose from and a laptop to bring is a luxury not everyone has, but I don’t think either is necessary. A notebook and a new view could do the trick.
When creating, we must remember to move ourselves.
Not just in body. In soul and spirit, too. My18th book, UNSPEAKABLE THINGS, releases very soon, and it’s my breakout novel. Finally. It’s the rawest and best thing I’ve ever written, as close to memoir as fiction can come, and I’ve got very exciting news to announce about it on December 1.
But here’s what’s important right now: the book is good because it moved me. I wrote toward what scared me, and when your writing is that honest, it moves things in your life, too. Old, constrictive relationships fracture, other ones heal or strengthen, new ones are born. That’s the power of writing, if it comes from an authentic place. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying, and I think only possible in community with other creatives. I certainly couldn’t have gone that deep alone.
I hope you’ll join one of my writing retreats (I'm holding two writing retreats in a spectacular, Hogwarts-esque residential library in Wales UK; a luxury writing retreat on historic Summit Avenue in St. Paul; and a serene writing retreat near Garden of the Gods in soulful Colorado), where we create community, where we nurture our minds and bodies, and where we write, write, and write. But whether you’re on a glorious writing retreat or working on your project in stolen hours, don’t forget that your primary goal is to move yourself, body and soul.