Yesterday, I was throwing myself a kind of celebration because I was SLAYING life. New fridge? Check. Great run? Check. Accidentally-on-purpose opening my mother's day present when it arrived in the mail without waiting for my husband to actually give it to me? Check. Sunshine after a long winter? Check. Cooler full of beer for a little bit of day drinking in said sunshine..? Duh.
And then a tweet came across my feed as I was prepping today's posts for my twelfth release day (TWELVE!!!!!!! AHHH!!!!!!!). It was from Rachel Van Dyken, an amazing romance author. You know what Ms. Van Dyken was doing? Submitting her--wait for it--71st book. Yes, you read that correctly. Seventy. Fucking. One. I bow down to you, Ms. Van Dyken. I bow down.
Did I say SLAYING life? Maybe just laying it...getting the groundwork ready for when I actually start to get in there and do some damage. Yeah. That's it.
Soooo, with that perspective, I dipped into the cooler a mite earlier than is wise for my half-pint, coffee-addicted, light-weight self, and I pondered whether twelve books could be a celebration when another woman just finished her 71st (all of which are, no doubt, super successful because she's a boss). After a few fortifying gulps of my Summer Shandy, I decided, yes, twelve can be celebrated with the same reverie as 71. Here's why: It's not the number, it's the feeling. And, though it might have been the sun and Shandy speaking, I was --AM-- really freaking excited about book twelve.
“Is this okay?” he asks. “It’s, uh, one of the places I like to go when I want quiet.”
I nod, and when he opens his door, so do I, following him around the front of the Jeep where he stops.
“Here.” Gunner unzips his work jacket, revealing a plain black hoodie underneath. He strips the jacket off and holds it open to me. “It’s cold.”
I slip my arms in, breathing in when the scent of Gunner hits me. “You did this last night.”
Gunner freezes, clearing his throat. “Yeah, I did. You were shivering then, too.” He motions to the hood. “You okay sitting up there?”
I answer by gripping the rusted brush guard and hauling myself up, scooching over the cold metal on my butt until I hit the windshield. Gunner follows, and for a few moments, we sit, both lost in the quiet and our own heads.
“How did you know? What to say to me,” I clarify when he gives me a questioning look. “Last night—how did you know that I would stay with you?”
I shift in anticipation for his answer, craving it in a way that tells me I’m throwing myself into a different deep-end—one I have no knowledge of.
“I didn’t,” he finally says. Then he turns so he’s looking out at the skyline. “I wouldn’t have let you get into the car even if you’d tried, but I wanted—hoped—it could be your decision.”
I think of how safe I felt when he had me…like I feel safe right now, propped up against the windshield of his car, the metal of the hood cold against my butt and legs while we look out at the Eugene skyline almost completely covered in fog.
“I was afraid.”
Gunner doesn’t look at me, but I feel him tense a little, and then there’s a light press of something cool against the back of my hand. He just rests the back of his knuckles against the back of mine, but I feel everything—the way his knuckles are much broader, his skin a little rougher, a little warmer.
A different kind of recklessness stirs in me, one I’m not familiar with.
Almost a year ago, June 2017, I released Tell Me Something Realand those characters, they just about broke me. I loved them, and I hurt for them, and when I finished writing them, I took a hiatus. I put my pen down and didn't pick it up again until August, when Gunner and CC came to mind. And even then, the writing was slow. The ideas were there, but I wanted to do them justice, and that justice required time and thought and rewrites. Lots of rewrites (thanks Suzie at CookieLynn, I cringe at the passive voice now, so you win).
It also required some tough decisions. Epilogue or no epilogue? Spoiler alert: I ALMOST didn't give you one. And then one thing flashed in my mind: GILMORE GIRLS. Decision made. You're welcome. And still, there were moments when I had to stop and go back, where I had to check and make sure that Gunner and CC weren't being glossed over, that they weren't too perfect as can be a habit when writing romance. I believe in romance--it's real life. I say that a lot: I write real life romance. But that means bad decisions and ugly choices sometimes, too, because humans aren't Charming and Cindy--we're fallible and negative and emotional. We're messy, and these characters had to be the right blend of messy and redeemable. I hope you see that balance when you read them.
Lessons in Gravity is Young Adult at its core, touching on those high school moments that deal with self-worth and identity, fear of failure, and the overwhelming pressure to make those around us proud. I love Gunner and CC, even though I didn't always like them. There are pieces of me in this book that I haven't been shy of acknowledging in the past: the crippling self-doubt, the desire to please everyone, the internal struggle that comes with being afraid of everything and everyone...all mixed with the deep-rooted need to make something of myself.
Since it's their release day, I'll let you get to know them without anymore words from me. As always, thank you for reading, for believing, for staying with me on this crazy writing journey (IMAGINE if it's ever book 71. LOL).
Happy Friday, loves. Go get your read on. Click Here for Gunner and CC on Amazon. All other platforms coming soon.