I can’t believe it, but I am rounding the corner close to the finish line of my second novel, currently titled The Summer Before. I had a tough time with this one trying to come up with the right title and went back and forth with a few, but this works. Let’s hope it sticks. I’m going to share another piece of it with you then hopefully, by the end of this week, or next, it’s off to my editor—fingers crossed that she likes it. And more importantly, I hope that you do. Juggling life while trying to create and achieve dreams and goals is so challenging. I’m sure you can all agree. I sometimes find myself in a darker place than I’d like wearing so many hats. The protagonist in The Summer Before struggles with depression. Hers because of a traumatic event that has devastated her life which is not exactly the same thing I’m experiencing, but I’m relating, and it’s helping me personally along with the development of my character. I think so many of us are brutally hard on ourselves, and I guess one could argue that some aren’t hard enough. There needs to be a balance, I’d say, and sometimes we must give ourselves a break.

I’ve been working on my inner dialogue where if I am speaking to myself in an unkind way, I cancel it by repeating the words “cancel, cancel, “in my head. I’m only allowing kind and productive thoughts in. It’s hard practice, but I think it is worth doing. If we learn to be kind to ourselves, it’s natural to be more compassionate and forgiving of others. For me, I think it’s important at times to realize I can’t do it all, and maybe you can’t, either. I struggle with this. We are led to believe that we can have everything we want, especially as women, and in my experience, I have learned this is not true. We’ve been lied to, in my opinion. Having success, a balanced life, wonderful marriage, and being the best and most present person and mother you can be are contradictions. There are sacrifices to be made always, in one area or another, and that’s hard—really hard, to swallow sometimes. But what if you didn’t have to think like that? What if you were better in these areas at different time points in your life than others, or what if you do the best that you can and learn to recognize when one area is faltering and be okay with focusing attention there for a time? While sometimes it feels like slapping a Band-Aid on things or doing a juggling act, it is what it is, and, I think most of us are doing the best we can, right? Be kind to yourself and each other—I think that’s the only way.

The exciting news is that my book, The Silence in the Sound, won first place in the Bookshelf Writing Awards, and I’m thrilled to say it has also won the Bronze in the general fiction category and has won overall Best Debut Novel in the Readers View Awards. I’m stoked and honored, to say the least. Thanks for all your support, everyone. Here’s a little more of The Summer Before.

Except for the glow from my phone, darkness surrounded me: at first unsure where I was. “Ouch.” I winced in pain, tugged at my left ear, ripped off the headphones, and realized I must have fallen asleep. I reached for my phone, looked at the time, and sat up, listening to my stomach churn in hunger, unsure where I’d get any food in the middle of the night. Boston certainly wasn’t New York. This city went to sleep at a reasonable hour, something I always hated. I flipped the light and went over to the mini-fridge to see if it was stocked. “Ah-ha! Nutterbutters.” I grabbed the package, and what I was sure was a twenty-dollar bottle of water. Tearing into the pack, I plopped back on the bed, reaching for my phone and thinking about where I’d left off.
Summer at the beach that day burst into my mind, and a stabbing pain erupted in my chest. I hurriedly opened the water and drank, thinking I could flush away the feeling, but I couldn’t. To believe that day was the first time anything happened right in front of me while thinking about fucking ice cream and riding the Flying Horses pouting on the shore, sickened me. A mixture of feelings flooded me: guilt, foolishness, anger, and sadness. I felt naive and pathetic. I watched the water bottle roll from the bed and plop on the table, slowly leaking all over our picture. Quickly, I reached to grab it, but stopped just before seeing the water cover our faces. I headed to the shower, leaving us all to drown.
“And Summer, she will tell you there were other times.” Sarah Martin’s voice hurt my heart and ears, and I turned down the volume as low as possible to where I almost couldn’t hear her at all, hoping I wouldn’t. I stared at the ceiling fan spinning slowly, digging my heels into the rug, lying naked and wet on the floor. I wasn’t sure I could hear about other times. I couldn’t hear about any time, even if there were no details, even if it were just Sarah Martin’s voice saying he did this. I couldn’t hear her say it then; I couldn’t hear anyone say it without disassociating from my body, leaving on some trip to another planet. Why did I think now I could?