If We Were Having Coffee

It’s already getting dark early, and after Daylight Savings last night, it’ll be dark even earlier. Let’s cozy up in my new home with a cup of coffee (or hot cocoa, if you’re like me!) and have a heart-to-heart.


If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that two-months-out from book launch is nothing like I’d imaginedAnd I had thought I had pretty realistic expectations. Not so much. It’s so quiet on the book front. Reviews are coming in slow-to-never. In my nightmares, I pictured launch day as this Big Bang of sorts, one that didn’t launch worlds but one that shut things down. And, while that’s not entirely accurate, it feels true. Which is unfair to say. It doesn’t take into consideration all the beautiful souls who have read and loved my novel, who have offered reviews and feedback exactly when I needed them most. It doesn’t take into consideration getting to reconnect with so many old friends who reached out because they picked up my book. It doesn’t take into consideration the wonder of my dad and brother, not readers by a long-shot, dedicating themselves to reading my story … and finding they enjoy it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I just re-read The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta and that it destroyed me. Again. Everything this woman writes is GOLD, I tell you. The Piper’s Son is, to me, the epitome of a character-driven contemporary novel. Marchetta herself has said that writing that novel was like putting the characters’ lives back together, chapter by chapter. I adore it. And her. So much. Have you read anything by her?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m just hours away from going to a David Sedaris event. He’s an incredible humor memoirist, and I know that tonight will be one of those amazing times when my stomach hurts from too much laughing. Can’t wait!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how tired I am. Fall is a crazy time in the world of college recruitment. We go to college fairs (including but not limited to the biggest college fair in the country, which takes place right in Minneapolis). We travel to high schools. We do presentations for schools. We meet with tons of visitors on campus. We host events nearly every week. Now add onto that writing a novel. It’s no wonder that I’ve gotten sick this fall. Sometimes I just want to crawl into bed and not leave it for a month.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how many wonderful people in my life are celebrating right now. It’s my best friend Ashley’s birthday today! It was my sweet little Lily’s birthday last week (Lily is the daughter of Des, my delightful friend whom I lived with for seven years [before she got married])! Soon it is Ashley’s daughter Claire’s birthday, and after that, it will be my sister’s, then Tracy’s, then my mom’s, and then Tracy’s daughter Elsie’s. I’m so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life to love and enjoy.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about Yes Novel. In so many ways, I’m thrilled about the progress on my second novel, which I have been working on for nearly one year now. In other ways, I understand how far it still has to go, and it scares me. I am pouring my time, energy, heart, desires, and prayers into this story. Right now I’m working on a second draft that feels more like a first draft, and when I remind myself of that, it feels like I’m ahead of the game. When I remember that I’d like it to be completed by this upcoming summer, I feel this crush of pressure and fear. I love the characters. Rowen is a young woman who cares so deeply about other young women, and I love that about her. My friend Mary is, in some ways, so very similar to Rowen, and Mary is … I can’t describe her. She’s a game-changer. Her heart is the size of the sun and she burns just as bright. If Rowen can even remotely resemble Mary, I’d be so pleased. Asa suffers from OCD. It’s been interesting to write from a male perspective (and even more interesting to find I enjoy it!) and to walk willingly back into that battleground of obsessive thoughts. I’ve made Asa’s obsessional fears rather different from my own, which helps, but there is this common thread of hyper-responsibility that runs through it all, and I know that the things I’ll be describing in the book will seem wildly irrational to readers, but I’m hoping that I can hold them through the leaps so they can empathize with this brain disorder. I feel a weight of responsibility to get it right. I’m not sure that I have yet or that I ever will.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you: How are you? What have you been up to? How do you feel about winter? Are you reading anything mind-blowing right now? What creative projects are you working on? Have you started thinking about 2016 already the way I have?

I hope you’ll respond.

10 thoughts on “If We Were Having Coffee

  1. Hi Jackie!

    I am doing well today.
    What am I up to? NaNoWriMo! My goal this year is to finish up some chapter books and Middle Grade novels that I’ve been working on for a while. There’s something about the finishing that scares me; maybe that then I’m not sure what to do? But I’m into it.

    I like winter much better in CA. More sun. I think I was always meant to be in a place where there was more sun.

    Mindblowing: I really liked Big Magic, and I am finishing up Rising Strong. Both REALLY good.

    What creative projects am I NOT working on?
    I’m trying to be selective really; I’m having a BLAST with my newsletters, and I’m thinking about starting to sell some little art things. I’m having fun with the mini pep talks i’ve been posting too.

    I am always thinking about the future, for better or for worse.
    My eyes are on 2017, because I can’t wait for my book to come out, but also on 2016, because we are trying to expand our little family, so the future is totally in flux, like it always is. But it’s exciting, like it always is too.

  2. I love your “If we were having coffee” posts.

    I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year and so far am off to a good start. I originally set out to write a straight-up thriller, but on October 31st I decided my heart wasn’t in this project as much as it was in an idea I’ve been sitting on for years — writing from the POV of some prisoners on death row. So while I’m excited because I’m so passionate about this topic, I’m also preparing myself for a long slog of emotionally and creatively draining writing/research.

    But my first novel is out on submission, so hopefully I’ll have some joyful peaks here soon. That’s what I would say if we were having coffee 🙂

  3. – How are you?

    God has been teaching me a great deal about accepting his love, myself, and my mistakes. My class is going well, and we have been painting and decorating more of our house.

    – What have you been up to?

    Painting, teaching, research, building friendships, and enjoying our church fellowship. I spoke in a series called “a picture of hope” this past Sunday. My group’s radon monitor is coming along nicely, and my graduate student is just getting started on his thesis project.

    – How do you feel about winter?

    I seem to be well adapted to winter; I suspect being born in December in Wisconsin helped. I have snow tires and bar mitts for my bike so I can commute all year round. I prefer -10 F and sunny to 30 F with grey skies. I like the feasts of Thanksgiving and Christmas; I like feeling the crunch of fresh snow under my boots. In winter one can always put on more layers to protect from the cold, but one can only take off so much (legally) in a hot and humid summer.

    My favorite part of winter, is the night sky. Orion, the Pleadies, Sirius, and a host of others are at their best. The cold skies of winter are dry, which makes for the best star viewing. I think I actually frostbit my fingertips as a child because I couldn’t work my telescope’s controls with gloves on during a winer night.

    – Are you reading anything mind-blowing right now?

    Partly because of you and one of my students, I am reading Our Mathematical Universe, but I haven’t gotten to the mind-blowing parts yet.

    – What creative projects are you working on?

    I suppose that depends on how exactly you define creative.

    I’m the science consultant on an upcoming YA novel 😉 I’ve started blogging again with weekly gratitude lists. My wife and I are looking forward to our next band concert on Dec. 7.

    Over the past few months, with much help and encouragement from my wife, I have brought our Entertainment PC into successful operation. It is partly a personal DVR, and I have been watching many recordings on it this weekend.

    – Have you started thinking about 2016 already the way I have?

    Yes. I’ve mostly been thinking about two trips I will take (one to Minneapolis) and the class I will be teaching (freshman physics).

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