Monday, October 28, 2013

The Bluest Skies

When Booktrope offered me a publishing contract for Running Secrets last summer, I signed (of course) and celebrated. Then the work began. The first step was to form a publishing team. At Booktrope each book is produced by a team consisting of author, editor, designer, book manager/publicist and copy editor. For the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of working with a fabulous team of creative women: Pamela Hobart Carter, Loretta Matson, Katrina Randall, and Tiffany White.

I love the rich blue sky in this cover Loretta has created. It reminds me of the lyrics of the theme song from the 1960s sitcom Here Come the Brides: “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle.” Those of us who live in Seattle know those gorgeous blue skies mirrored in the sparkling waters of Elliott Bay. Of course, we also know the heavy gray of sky and water as well as the endless days when gray fog rises to meet gray clouds and rain drizzles for weeks on end. It's no surprise that suicide rates in the Pacific Northwest rank among the highest in the country. On one such gray winter day Chris Stevens, the protagonist in Running Secrets, attempts to end her own life. She fails. But will she try again?  

I glance up from my notebook as I write these words to see a trace of pale blue through the heavy clouds on the western horizon, the blue of hope, of promise. I remind myself to take pleasure in every moment of sunshine sneaking through Seattle's heavy gray of autumn and winter. If I’m at my desk at work, or doing laundry at home, or writing in a coffee shop, I should get outside at the first ray of sun and soak in the brilliant light because it may only last five minutes, maybe a half hour, never long enough. Too often I work through the rare sun breaks telling myself I’ll go out as soon as I'm finished and those brief moments of sunlight sparkling on the red and gold radiance of autumn, on the frigid waters of Elliott Bay, slip through my fingers.

In addition to being a hotbed of suicide, the Pacific Northwest also reports high rates of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). One treatment for SAD is exposure to light, preferably sunlight. Would sunlight have helped Chris Stevens’s struggle with depression? I know it improves my mood. I need sunlight, and I'm determined to drop whatever I'm doing, pull on my coat, and head outdoors to enjoy it knowing that the piles of student papers needing grades, the unfinished laundry, the new scene for the next novel will still be waiting for my return, but the Seattle sun waits for no one.