At the start of this season of promoting Perfect Pairing, I promised some videos on the subject of the novel’s setting: Buffalo, New York. Then I sort of slacked off this summer. Sorry. But I’m back at it again, and this past weekend I was down on the Buffalo waterfront, so I shot a short video to help share the Buffalove. Check it out!
Also, just a quick reminder that you still have about 2 weeks to take a picture of your own grilled cheese creation next to your copy of Perfect Pairing, because if you do, you’ll be entered for a chance to win naming rights to a character in an upcoming Rachel Spangler novel. Just be sure to tag me when you share the photo on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We’ve only had a handful of entries so far, so your odds of winning are still pretty good!
The Olympics are over, which means I’m no longer spending every spare moment in front of the television. This makes me kind of sad. I love the Olympics for so many reasons (see previous blogs), but I especially loved them this year for the break it gave me from the current political climate. They helped me escape a depression that has been hovering just in the distance for months. I needed a break, an escape to a place where people meet across distance and difference and strive to be their best instead of capitalizing on the lowest common denominator. I liked living in that place where we at least try to lift up the best in the human spirit for two weeks.
I didn’t want it to end. It wasn’t long enough to heal all the things ailing my head and heart right now. I am just so fatigued by the vitriol of Trump and his cronies and his legions of bigoted followers taking up all the news cycle. And it seems like the only time we get a story other than Trump is when we have something more devastating to talk about. Floods, genocide, mass shootings, rapists not facing jail time. It’s all important, and it’s all exhausting because it is so important, but still, it is crushing sometimes.
I think that’s why I like to read so much. I’m obviously drawn to fiction. I’ve made my life out of romance because I love, love. I think it’s one of the few truly transformative human experiences. I don’t know why more people don’t study love the way we study science or history. Love has the power to unite us across cultures and genders and socioeconomic levels. I am fascinated by the whys and the hows that can let two people on completely different ends of any given spectrum overcome everything between through this power we call love. And there’s never an end to those questions because there’s a infinite number of real life humans beings with real life challenges to overcome. I think my work has always reflected that, and I hope it continues to do so.
Increasingly, though, I’m also becoming interested in hero stories. My son is responsible for that. We’ve always read a lot together, but for a while he was into early reader chapter books, that while important for developing independence as a reader, bored the crap out of me. Thankfully his reading level has progressed to the point where he’s reading really gripping stuff on his own, and he wants to share it with me the way I shared my favorite picture books with him. I’ve also gotten to share some of the classics with him, and it seems that when we read together, we’re drawn to completely different stuff than I pick up on my own. We read the Narnia books first, then the first Harry Potter book followed by Percy Jackson and the Olympians. These are worlds that are far from the girl-meets-girl-next-door books I read and write. The books take place in faraway places with mythical creatures, magical powers. There are talking animals and wizards and fauns and centaurs and heroes. So many shapes and sizes and colors and species, but always heroes.
As I look around at our reality, the anger, the fear, the hatred, I find myself wanting to dive back into these books where love and heroes reign, but after the Olympics I’ve begun to think that impulse is less about escape. After watching refugees complete against all odds, and athletes cross ethnic lines to shakes hands or offer congratulations; after seeing competitors pick each other up figuratively and sometimes physically to get across finish lines; after seeing grace and class upstage greed and seeing people overcome sexism and racism and homophobia and transphobia and Islamophobia, all the things we muck up every day not to survive, but triumph.
Good fiction is like that for me. It lets me suspend my disbelief long enough to actually start believing in our better angels again. It doesn’t take me out of the world so much as it inspires me to see the world anew. Good books remind me that love is real and that heroes still walk among us. They remind me what I’ve forgotten is true: despite all the muck and mire, magic still exists, love still heals, heroes can still win.
I know it’s been way too long since I posted a blog, but it’s been a hell of a month for me and my family. Thank the good Lord we are finally home and healthy and ready to get back to work. Over the last month Perfect Pairing has been out, it’s gotten some really awesome reviews, and if you’ve written one, I want to say thank you. That means a lot to me. To those of you who have reached out on social media or mentioned it to your friends, I want to say thank you, too. You all are awesome.
In an attempt to show my appreciation, I have made you another food video. This one is for Hal’s creation called the Sloppy Firsts.
Along with the sandwich, the video also launches a bit of a loyalty-rewards contest. For those of you who can’t watch a video right now, these are the basics: If you’ve bought a copy of Perfect Pairing (ebook or print), make yourself a grilled cheese and take a photograph of the book next to the grilled cheese (like the photo above). Then all you have to do is post it on social media and tag me in the post. Anyone who does this before September 15, 2016, will be entered to win a chance to name a character in an upcoming book of mine.
Sloppy First Recipe
– Hearty White Bread (I use Italian)
– Muenster Cheese
– Sloppy Joe Meat (use the recipe you like best)
Butter the bread on each side and toast one side before turning it over. Add a slice of Muenster cheese to each slice of bread, then top one of them with sloppy joe meat. Add the other slice of cheese and bread on top. Cook until golden, and scarf it down.