Saturday, March 21, 2020

Twenty-Eight Days Later: Not the Zombie Apocalypse

I'm a romance author who's never had a relationship. Or at least that's what I tell people—and they are almost always shocked by that assertion. It's only in recent months that I've realized it isn't strictly true. I have had one significant long-term relationship. A toxic twenty-year on-and-off affair with alcohol...that's been in tandem with my lifelong partnership with fear. I've always been so afraid. Afraid I'm terrible, unlikable, unlovable. Afraid of what I'll say and what I'll do. Afraid of not being funny. Of not being cool. Of not being pretty enough. I grappled with those fears alone through my teens and into my first few years of college. And then I realized drinking softened the edges. A glass in my hand was like Dumbo's feather. It gave me the courage to fly.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Suleikha's Top 19 Romances of 2019

Tallying up my favorite 2019 romances was no easy task, but somehow I managed! Because I don't want to play favorites with my favorites, these are in alphabetical order by author's last name. And, okay, I do have two Alyssa Cole books on here–-which I realize isn't fair—but she had a banner release year, and her historicals and her contemporaries are very different in tone but equally brilliant. I would be more disingenuous for leaving one of these titles off my list.

1. Proper English by KJ Charles

2. An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole

3. A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

4. A Darker Shade by Laura K. Curtis

5. Teach Me by Olivia Dade

6. Well Met by Jen DeLuca

7. Trashed by Mia Hopkins

8. Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

9. Mangos & Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

10. The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard

11. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

12. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

13. The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

14. A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian

15. The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

16. The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe

17. Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri

18. Three Part Harmony by Holley Trent

19. The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Suleikha's 2020 books to look out for:

I devoured the ARCs for these awesome romances and will rec them to anybody and everybody in the year ahead! (The Shupe and the Clayborn came out on Dec. 30 and 31, respectively, but in publishing that's considered a January release!)

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
House Rules by Ruby Lang
Headliners by Lucy Parker
Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
The Prince of Broadway by Joanna Shupe

Monday, June 17, 2019

Why I'm Not Happy About My Book Deal (or anything else)

Ever since I signed a three-book contract earlier this year, I've been going through this thing. Where I tell someone about it and they exclaim, "Oh, you must be so thrilled! Congratulations!" "Thanks, I'm terrified, actually," I say, fidgeting in my seat and feeling my cheeks heat—certain the person will think me ungrateful, but unable to lie and feign joy. And then the rest of the words tumble out of me. About the anxiety, the depression, the fear that I will fail. Nothing the person asked to hear. All they want is to be happy for me and I can't allow them, or myself, that moment.

My struggles with mental illness are no secret. I was in a depressive low even before my agent emailed me in March to let me know an editor wanted this book, this series. I had commitments to write a column for Frolic.Media that I kind of just...bailed on. (Sorry, Frolic!) I was barely poking at new fiction projects. The book news just sent me deeper into the spiral. Weeks turned into months of darkness. Of staring at my Word document in despair. Of listening to that voice in my head, whispering like Iago, "You're going to fail. You're going to die before you finish this book." Pushing myself out of the house—and ostensibly out of my head—inevitably meant going to local bars...and "celebratory" cocktails quickly turned into "drink until I cry" cocktails and "black out when I get home" cocktails. 

Before people rush in with well-meaning advice...I have a therapist. We've upped from monthly to twice a month. I have a new psychiatrist scheduled. I (try to) go to an exercise class every week. No, I'm not going to try yoga. Yes, I've tried meditation. This is not about asking for help. This is an honest look at the utter clawing terror that steals joy, that inhibits creativity, that wants to ensure we don't reach our full potential. Because I know exactly what this is. I know what's causing it. I know why I push past the third-drink happies to the fourth-drink miseries. No amount of self-awareness actually helps stop it. And neither does Downward-Facing Dog, okay?