Hide Me Till the New Year

It’s been a hard week. I’m exhausted and going on three weeks of being sick. Dark, cold mornings make it so hard to get out of bed and face my energy-draining job. I have a deadline coming up for my draft, and I’ve been searching for a spark of soul in this manuscript and so scared it’s not there.

Then, last night, when it started to snow, I burst into tears.


I’m not ready for winter. I’m not ready for the darkness, the depression that lingers around the holidays for me. I’m a true-blue Minnesotan who, as the snow fell (and thankfully dissolved on contact with the ground), legitimately thought, “I can’t do another Minnesota winter. I need to escape.”

To where? To what? This is my home.

I’ve been wanting to escape this draft too. But again: to where? To what? Writing is my calling. I’m living my dream. I just can’t find the joy in it.

I’ve been wanting to escape work too. To where, to what? I have a great job with hilarious and loving coworkers and an incredible boss.

I’ve been wanting to escape this … silence I’ve been encountering from God. But “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). I know I’m not abandoned. I know that. But it doesn’t mean I don’t feel that way sometimes.

I’m. just. so. tired.

Therapy last night was a God-send, even if it meant I had to go out in the rain/snow. My therapist reminded me that all stories are connected to the gospel, and it was what I desperately needed to hear.

I don’t know what I thought– that a book deal would mean perpetual sunshine in my life? I do rejoice that I’ve been given this gift– this opportunity to share my words, live this life– but the winter has still come each year.

Still, I trust that spring is around the corner.

Jackie’s Book Boyfriends (2015)

Silas Hart of Truest | I mean, come on. He was literally created to be my dream boy if I were seventeen years old. He has to be #1!

“I had all these plans—but you ruined them all. You destroyed my old plans and became my new plan.”

“I feel like if I was lost, you would know where to find me.”

yes oprah

Sean Kendrick of The Scorpio Races | Strong, silent type? Yes. I love you, Sean.

“I say, ‘I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.’
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, ‘It’s late for that, Puck.’”

hell to the yeah

Will Trombal of Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son | Will, oh my love. My heart. My sweet nerd.

“Come here,” she says.
“No, you come here.”
“I said it first.”
“Rock paper scissors.”
“No. Because you’ll do nerdy calculations and work out what I chose the last six times and then you’ll win.”
Will pushes away from the table and his hand snakes out and he pulls her toward him and Tom figures that Will was always going to go to her first.

rapunzel swoon

Khalid Ibn Al-Rashid of The Wrath and the Dawn | He’s gorgeous, soft-spoken, and lethal with his shamshir. (I didn’t know weaponry could turn me on so much … maybe it’s just the mastery of it. :-))

“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.

“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.

“No.” His hands dropped to her waist. “Destroy me.”

hot damn

Jonah Griggs of Jellicoe Road | A tough-as-nails cadet with a heart of gold? His tough love is perfect for Taylor.

“He stops and looks at me. ‘I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”


Augustus Waters of The Fault in Our Stars | Augustus inspired me to write YA in the first place, did you know that? I love him and his metaphors.

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”


Honorable mentions: Richard Campbell Gansey III, Theodore Finch, Tim Mason, Beck Van Buren. And Finnikin and Froi. All the Marchetta boys, basically.

How about you? 

6 Weeks Till Truest: Quiz! Who is Your Green Lake BFF?

Did you take this quiz? Did you read my book? Was the quiz right? 🙂


t6Wow! Just six more weeks till Truest comes out!

My story takes place in the fictional town of Green Lake, Minnesota– based off of my own hometown of Kimball, Minnesota, pop. 700. Take this quiz and find out which of my characters would be your Green Lake BFF.

(I tried my darnedest to embed this sucker, but in the end, it’s going to take you temporarily to another site. Then come back and post your results, okay? I wanna know!)

Green Lake BFF Quiz

Learn more about Truest and pre-order your copy at jackieleasommers.com/truest.

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A Reunion with My ERP Therapist

For OCD Awareness Week, OCD Twin Cities had an event– a panel of OCD experts plus one special guest: yours truly. Interestingly, one of the experts on the panel was my own ERP therapist and personal hero, Dr. Chris Donahue. I have not seen him since the last day I graced his office with my presence on the day I finished ERP therapy back in 2008, though we have communicated via email, and I have sent many, many people his way for help.

I only joined the panel for the last fifteen minutes or so. For the majority of it, I was in the audience. There was this weird dichotomy going on for me: on the one hand, I was listening to this man who saved my life, who changed everything for me, who pulled me out of darkness and into light, out of slavery and into freedom; on the other hand, his voice is the voice of my exposures (I did imaginal therapy, listening to an audio recording … and it was in his voice), which were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life. So there was this push-pull thing going on while he spoke.

Then, later, I joined him. I was able to sit next to my hero and publicly tell an audience, “This is what this man did for me. This is what life was like before, and this is what life is like now, and they are unrecognizable.” I turned to him and said, “Thank you.” He said, “You’re welcome.” It was a simple exchange … but so layered. So many things going on in my head and heart.

In any case, I am grateful. With every year that goes by of freedom, I more and more shed my identity as someone in bondage. ERP therapy saves lives. For some of us, it changes everything. It did for me.

For lots more information about OCD and ERP, go to jackieleasommers.com/OCD.

dr donahue 2

Being a Creator is Uncomfortable

Writing a novel is a long, difficult journey full of emotions. Some days I’m thrilled with my work; some days it disgusts me. Sometimes I feel a sort of writer’s high; often I am in a slump.

But amidst all the join and pain of writing, I experience this level of … discomfort. Discomfort is probably the best word for it.


I’ve been thinking a little bit about it, and I have a few random thoughts. Do you care if I use bullet points? Thanks.

  • My discomfort stems from having something incomplete. I understand that the nature of creation is that something is being created and that likely doesn’t happen in a moment. But I hate having messy drafts. I want to know that if I got hit by a bus today, something could still be done with my manuscript. (Gruesome much, Sommers?)
  • I think this discomfort is a huge reason for how driven I am in writing. I go into beast mode as I write and revise. And it’s all because I want to get the manuscript back to a modicum of order.
  • Does this say something about my innate desire for order? Maybe. (Though you would not think that if you looked at my bedroom. #tornado)
  • I’m thinking about God creating– some think he made the world in a literal six days (and rested on the seventh), some think those days are just metaphors, some think there is no God. But I’m intrigued at the idea of him hammering through all this creative work and then finally getting a chance to rest. Sometimes I feel that way too. I have to get this work done before I can properly rest and recover.
  • I understand that I need to learn to live with this discomfort. It’s been the major lesson of my adult life: learning to embrace uncertainty, learning to stay knee-deep in discomfort until I acclimate. I am trying to stretch these lessons to my creative life. I tell myself I only need to revise 1000 words a day … but then I barrel through and do 10k because I can and because it’s uncomfortable and because I want to get things back to good. But how much more will I learn if I stay in the discomfort? I don’t know.

Just some thoughts for you. Would love to hear if these ideas prompted any reaction in you.

Thanks for being lovely.

Truest Seminar!!!

The incredibly brilliant Lara Willard is currently conducting a virtual book club/writing seminar, all focused around my novel! It kicked off earlier this month, but the good news is that IT’S THE INTERNET, so you can still see all the posts and comments and easily join in! I hope you will!

Click here for the passwords to the posts and here for more general information.

If you do, be sure to use #TRUESTsem to join into the conversation on social media!

truest sem

Truest vs. Yes Novel (untitled book #2)

unsplash36Someone asked how writing book #2 (as yet untitled but henceforth referred to as Yes Novel) is different from writing Truest. It’s a great question. I also want to pause and just say that several people (including friend and mentor Judy Hougen as well as author Ally Carter) have said to let the writing of each novel be its own thing and to not compare them. Ally said at the YA conference I was at, “Learn how to write the novel you’re writing NOW.”

Easier said than done, in some ways. In others, it’s already sort of hard for me to remember writing the initial drafts of Truest. It was nearly four years ago now!

That said, I can offer a few insights.

My first book (or anyone’s first book, for that matter) is typically not written under contract, so there’s generally no pressure, no deadline. It’s fine if it takes you two years or four or ten. You just have to get it as perfect as you can before you query. Then, when it sells, your editor sees the manuscript at a fairly well-done stage. By the time Jill saw my manuscript for Truest, I had worked on it for over a year and a half, including self-edits, multiple rounds of edits with Ben Barnhart, revision suggestions from the Big Sur Writing Workshop, and a round of revisions from my agent.

On the other hand, Jill saw a first draft of Yes Novel. That was scary but liberating to show her the messiest work of mine she’d ever seen at that point. Yes Novel is also under contract. I am working toward a deadline. There is added pressure due to both of those things.

With both Truest and Yes Novel, I didn’t know the ending when I started. I didn’t land on Truest’s ending until many, many drafts into it. I am veering toward an ending for Yes Novel now in draft two, but it still feels sort of unsatisfactory. I try to remind myself that Truest, at this stage, still lacked an ending. So, in that sense, I’m ahead of the game. Maybe.

Truest is written in first person (that is, “I thought”) from West’s point of view. Yes Novel is (currently) written in dual third (that is, some chapters are “Asa thought” and some are “Rowen thought”). I keep battling with myself if I should write it in dual first, but I just don’t think that the two voices are distinct enough to weather it. Yes Novel seems to be narrated by ME, not by Asa or Rowen. Can’t decide what I think of that yet … except that maybe I’m finally finding MY authorial voice, and there’s something exciting about that.

I can tell that I understand more about novel writing and the narrative arc as I write Yes Novel. I can tell that I’ve grown as a writer. So that’s a good thing.

Another thing is that, while Truest has some subtle religious themes, the characters in Yes Novel are not religious, so the content is different. (I mean, of course the content is different, but … you know what I mean, right?). Sometimes I worry about this a little bit … wondering if people who liked Truest will not like Yes Novel because they are so different, but then I remind myself:

  1. I’m writing a new story, not re-writing Truest.
  2. I’ve started with characters once again. People who liked Silas and West and Laurel will probably like Asa and Rowen too.
  3. I’m still writing about themes that are tremendously important to me (mental illness, uncertainty, freedom, family, friendship, art, mythology, thought experiments, love and romance).

In some ways, I seem to remember Truest just unrolling before me like a carpet. But that’s probably a tainted memory. I’ve been working on Yes Novel now for nearly one year, and it’s further along than where Truest was at that time. It felt like there was better flow to Truest and I *think* I wrote it in chronological order, though, to be honest, I really can’t recall. Yes Novel was written all out of order and thus still has a very episodic feel to the chapters, which I’m trying to erase through revisions and better transitions and more foreshadowing.

Yes Novel still is essentially a series of conversations that could be taking place almost anywhere. But I do remember that Truest was much the same until later drafts when I made special effort to correct it. I’m still not naturally good at description … but I am getting better. That feels obvious to me.

So. There you have it. Not sure if this is helpful or interesting or not. It was a great question (thank you!), and I’m so excited to share Yes Novel with you a year and a half from now (gosh, that feels so far away … until I look at my draft and realize that I need that time). Asa and Rowen have completely captured my heart, and I hope they’ll capture yours too.

Top Ten Bookish Wishes

1. My first wish of the bookish genie is actually a TFIOS spoiler (highlight if you wanna see): Augustus LIVES.

2. That The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh was out NOW.

Rose and Dagger

3. To meet Melina Marchetta.


4. I get to go to Hogwarts.


5. This as my writing cottage (more here).


6. To discover unpublished Narnia books.

narnia map

7. To write full-time.

8. To write books that matter and create characters people love.

9. To never lose the joy of fiction.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand …

10. To find the perfect mash-up of Silas Hart, Asa Bertrand, Sean Kendrick, Will Trombal, Jonah Griggs, Augustus Waters, and Khalid Ibn Al-Rashid and have him love me.


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Song of Hands

Go read this. Please. One of my favorite creative pieces I’ve read all year. Brianna Flavin is a poetic genius.

Also: you’re welcome.


Song of the Mango

Where men threw metal scraps to knock the mangoes down. They gave one to me, which I took to the small kitchen with a window and countertop of blue tiles. The sun was rising through that window, with my mango ecstatically alone. I had a thin knife, stood there paring and peeling the very smell of a mango, which smelled deeper yellow, golder than it looked inside, smelled like butterfly drought down the neck of a flower. Covered me and took me over—honey-flesh, ambrosia, juice-leather. When I buried my teeth to the hilt in its slippery meat, and the fragrant shine ran down my neck, over my breasts swathed in India linen. When the sun came in just then, the sight of God falling on me, covered where I stood in carnage of nectar, more sexual, more sexless than I could ever be. When I pulled…

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