Happy release week to me! The theme of today’s post is, “Taste is subjective.”

1. Watching! But this is not subjective: American women athletes are kicking all kinds of ass at the Olympics. So here’s a photo of Allyson Felix, because she won a gold medal Wednesday, and also just because I think she’s really pretty. She comes across as friendly and chill in interviews. Here are some more lady athletes!

I have some sadness that the Olympics are about to come to an end because I’ve enjoyed watching so much, but I also look forward to going to bed at reasonable times again.

2. Reading! I took a day off from work Monday to recover from all the madness that happened last week at work, and I took the opportunity to basically read a whole novel in one sitting. That novel was Rock and a Hard Place by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow, and I LOVED it. I went to add it to my Goodreads account, and I saw that reviews were mixed, which should have surprised me less than it did, I guess. Just goes to show.

I mean, I disagree with reviews all the time. Reading is such a personal thing. One reader’s dealbreaker is another’s enticement.

Or it’s like the experience I had when I saw The Dark Knight Rises. While I was watching the movie, I was totally into it. I have a hard time sitting still that long, but the movie totally captured my attention and entertained me. Then the friend I saw it with and I rode the subway home together and discussed the movie, and it started to retroactively fall apart. (I still liked the movie on the whole, but there were parts of it that were real head scratchers, you know?) That happens when I read sometimes, where I’ll be so caught up in a story that all flaws become invisible, and it’s only after the fact that I’ll realize what might not have worked.

But, yeah. Everyone likes different things. Which is not a revolutionary thought, but it seems like in this era of authors and reviewers and drama and high anxiety, it’s good to remember that. (I will have more to say about this shortly.)

3. Writing! Shipped a manuscript off to my editor yesterday. I have, I’m not even joking, four new projects open on my computer right now. I’m hoping to make some headway with some new stories over the next few weeks

I know I’ve posted this cover a zillion times, but I really love it. Let’s stare at it some more.

4. Four Corners! This release was especially nerve-wracking for me. Here’s our theme of the week: when I first started shopping it around, I kinda knew it was a novel not everyone would like. It’s probably the angstiest of my published novels. Jake and Adam both behave in ways that mean they aren’t always likable or sympathetic (although I hope that they are on the whole). I wanted to tell a good story and make you think and entertain you, and hopefully I’ve accomplished that. It’s a story that’s heavy on emotion and light on plot with heroes that don’t always act the way the reader might like them to, and that felt a little risky.

At my local chapter’s RWA meeting last weekend, one of the other women at the meeting said that it’s important to keep track of and follow trends, to adapt to the market. She thought that if paranormals are big, writers should try their hands at paranormals, for example. I disagreed quite vocally; I think if you try to adhere to trends, by the time your book comes out, everyone’s over it and has moved on to the next thing. So why not set the trend?

I write mostly for myself; I write the kinds of books that I want to read. I’m finding that the more I write, the more I want to take risks and try different genres and experiment. I hope my readers come along for the ride, that what they find appealing about my voice will carry over as I try to write different kinds of books. I hope there’s something about my writing and my brand that readers continue to connect with even if I’m not writing contemporaries.

Basically, I couldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t love it—it’s hard work—and my writing sucks when I’m trying to push through a story I’m not really feeling. And I think I’d get bored if I stuck with one tried-and-true thing. So I’m writing stories I want to tell, trying not to analyze market trends too closely. (Which is to say, it’s good to keep on top of trends and pay attention to the market, but as a writer, you have to follow your heart, too.)

So I wrote this novel that I really feel passionate about, but I’m assiduously avoiding places like Goodreads in an attempt to just ride the high of successfully getting another book out and telling my nerves to shut up. That’s only kind of working. (It’s so hard not to look. It’s kind of like waiting for grades to get posted after an exam.)

So, yeah, I don’t know. I love this book. I love these characters. I hope you do, too. (But I still feel nervous.)

That said, we’re off to a good start: 5 stars from Jessewave.

Also, you can check out some things I wrote about about angst and also enter to win a copy of the book at Joyfully Jay.

Also, I seem to have made #3 on the Amazon Gay Romance list the day after the book was published. So I guess I sold a few copies! (THANK YOU to everyone who bought the book or supported me!)

5. Doing! I have a zillion things going on, like always, and lots of work to do this weekend. Ugh. But I leave for my week in the woods a week from tomorrow. I need a vacation so bad, I can’t even tell you.

Also, I was very sad to hear about the passing of David Rakoff, long one of my favorite writers and contributors to This American Life. (True story: just last month, I downloaded the This American Life app to my phone and have been listening to the archives, and one of the episodes I listened to recently was What You Lookin’ At from 1998, in which Rakoff recounts a story of going to a tiny town in New Hampshire and feeling like a fish out of water. As with a lot of his material, it’s darkly funny and poignant, and I love his speaking voice also.) (That episode is also worth it for the Sarah Vowell story about getting a goth makeover.)