It always amazes me that folks read the acknowledgements in the back of my books. I almost never finish them in time to send with ARCs so the people being mentioned rarely even see the notes I've written about them and I just assume no one pages that far past The End.
However! It seems a few folks did read the acknowledgements in Shucked…and they want to know about the earbuds my husband found for my tiny ears. If you're anything like me and cannot use most earbuds because they hurt or they just pop out while you're jogging so you have to get down on your hands and knees in the gutter to find the damn thing (ask me how I know), allow me to recommend these.
In other news: A few weeks ago, I asked my private reader group to vote on which of the many Thanksgiving moments I've written they loved the most. Though I should not have been, I was extremely surprised to discover that Erin and Nick's Thanksgiving in The Spire was the winner by a landslide.
You might recall from my convoluted explanation of how the Walsh family came to be that Nick and Erin were the couple I couldn't quite get right without first writing everyone else in their world, and that I waited years to tell their story. So this came as a very welcome and lovely surprise.
Here's one of my favorite (not overtly spoilery) moments from the Thanksgiving portion of that story.
I knew there were puppies in this house. If I could find them, I could scratch their heads for an hour or two, and then reassemble the world as I knew it.
I stormed through the first floor, searching this old, winding home for the chocolate labs. I looked in closets and bathrooms, around corners and behind doors, and finally stumbled into the laundry room at the far end of the home. Instead of finding two pups, happy for my attention, I found Shannon and Matt's father-in-law, the Commodore. He was learning over the countertop, fork in hand, while the dogs sat silent at his feet.
"You can stay," he said, stabbing his fork in the direction of the door. "But only if you tell my wife you ate the apple-cranberry pie."
It was a folksy, paternal thing to say, and a startled laugh caught in my throat. No one had ever said folksy, paternal things to me.
"All of it?" I asked. "I ate the entire pie?"
"Every crumb," he said. "You're tiny but I can tell from lookin' at you that you're something mighty."
Tears prickled at my eyes, and I stared at the floor, blinking, to keep my composure. It was like I'd waited all my life to find good, decent men, and now I couldn't turn around without one trying to feed me.
"Okay," I said, glancing up to find him smiling at me. My stomach chose that moment to growl and gurgle.
"There's a squash pie back in there," he said, gesturing toward the kitchen. "I've been saving it for breakfast, but I'll share it with you."
I shook my head. I couldn't rob this man of his breakfast. "No, I'm fine," I said, shaking my head as my stomach rumbled in disagreement.
"I'll get another fork," he said, setting his down and exiting to the kitchen. He quickly returned, offering me a napkin and fork without a word, and we dug into the butternut squash pie.
"Thank you," I said, nodding toward the dish. "I mean, you could've kicked me out—"
"Why aren't you out there with the kids?" he asked. He pointed to the stool tucked into the countertop, indicating for me to sit.
"Overwhelmed," I said, and that earned me a concerned glance from the Commodore.
"Family can do that," he said. "Something you want to get off your chest?"
I stared at the hunk of pie on my fork, scowling. "I appreciate that, but I've spent years processing things on my own, and I'm fine. I can handle it," I said.
"I don't doubt that in the least," he said as he tapped the ceramic dish with his fork. "But being able to handle it doesn't mean you have to handle it."
You can find The Spire in ebook, print, and audio here.
I hope you're doing well with all the things the world throws your way, my friend!
If you're in need of a book rec:
Love Redesigned by Lauren Asher. I gobbled this one up. Small town childhood rivals to young adult love interests to nothing at all for ten years…and then they're thrown together again. Some very real grappling with depression and anxiety (FMC) and grief processing (MMC). Made me long for a Christmas Eve tamale party and champurrado. If you'd like to invite me over for either, just let me know. I'll be there.
Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann. I cried in the prologue. It's single dad + grumpy/sunshine as the MMC works through the grief of being a widower and it PULLS at the heartstrings.
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