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True Romance


So it was the second of July and I was in a rusty 2007 Honda minivan in need of an oil change. Several engine lights were on, as well as a blinking -999 that has been there for probably three years. Upside down that reads 666 so I just assume the devil has possessed my van. All four kids were in the back bickering. Overall, not the proper conveyance for a woman revising a sex scene in the passenger chair. But there were some bright spots. Terrell was driving while jamming to his playlist, and let me tell you, that man can sing. His falsetto makes my ovaries quiver. Great music or not, I forget what was playing because he hit a bloated deer carcass dead-on.


No big deal. The deer was already dead and nothing seemed damaged, but within a few minutes, the inside of the vehicle filled with the ripe smell of death and burning hair. The poor thing's flesh was burning off the catalytic converter, incidentally the newest part of the van after someone sawed the old one off last fall. An hour later, we pulled into my parents’, the kids literally screaming “LET ME OUT!” “IT STINKS!” and hanging their heads out the window. Incidentally, they just stopped using heavy perfume and wearing N-95s in the car to block the stench. The smell of cherry vanilla and death will always bring back the summer of 2022 for me.


But that's just the kind of stuff I do for fun. In my professional life, I write rom-coms, which you probably know if you're reading this--sexy banter, comedy, no fading to black. Hence why I was editing a sex scene in the passenger chair. I had to fix a scene that my agent described as "gross" before she sent it to anyone important. (Hi Barbara!). My beta reader, Carly Bloom, only mentioned it wasn't long enough and made fun of me on Twitter. At least it wasn’t realistic. Or maybe that was the problem.


But let me tell you, on the way home from that weekend away, my professional and personal lives collided. It started with a heated conversation in Cloquet about something that seemed important at the time. Whatever had us going, we forgot to stop for gas. Right before the Sandstone exit, Terrell was like “OH SHIT!” We barely made it up the on-ramp before the still-stinking van puttered to a halt. Out of gas on the side of the road--I wasn't even surprised at this point. We are the interracial Griswolds.


But without a moment's hesitation, my man got out of that van and pushed the whole stinking vehicle filled with me and a bunch of kids across the friggin interstate. If he had been in a better mood I would have taken a picture. Instead, I focused on steering probably a good move. Pushing us across the interstate in that stinky van--a whole family of Covid positive people (because we got that too at the 4th)--that was the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. I could have gotten pregnant watching the grim look of determination on his face in the rearview mirror.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what side the gas tank was on and he had to push us to a different pump after I guessed wrong. We gave everyone filling up a pretty good show.


And that's my real, sort of romantic, life.


I don’t have a ton of book news at the moment, which is why you're hearing about me running out of gas, etc. I’m working on a couple of projects that will hopefully hit shelves soon. I would promise to let you know as soon as I know, but history shows that I suck at sharing news. (Working on that!)


What am I reading? Book Lovers by Emily Henry, which is great. I also enjoyed No Funny Business by Amanda Askel, which just came out. I'm looking forward to Roselle Lim's next book, Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club, coming out on August 12th. Maybe I'll do a giveaway in the next newsletter. I'm also listening to Half Empty by David Rakoff, a recommendation by Nikki Payne, who has a brilliant rom-com coming out this fall. If you don't buy Pride & Protest, you aren't living. Half Empty is about pessimism. I attempted to listen to it in the death van, but it's been a struggle to hear it over the complaining.


What am I watching? Baskets, another Nikki rec. I should have just interviewed her. Anyhoo, Zach Galifinakis plays a failed French clown. It’s darkly funny and I love it. I've been sneaking clowns into my manuscripts for a couple of years, but Barbara told me I can't write a clown romance until I finish what I'm doing. I see her point. Clowns probably aren't that sexy. But then again, you wouldn't think dead deer and running out of gas would be romantic either, and that's the sexiest thing that's happened to me in ages.


Life is a trip people. That’s all there is to it. Enjoy the ride, even if you happen to run out of gas.


Until next time,

Sam



Here I am George Costanza-ing on the van this morning because I don't have a pic of Terrell pushing us across the interstate. I propped the phone on the trash can, set the timer, and ran to get this shot. The roofers next door were probably confused.


An out take from before I locked up the dog. He was really concerned about this entire activity.


And here's Terrell popping a wheelie with training wheels last weekend.

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