If you need me, I’ll be at the bar…

My next book release is delayed because I’m spending too much time at the bar.

I admit it:  Instead of working diligently on my next book, I’m spending my evenings and weekends at the bar.  It’s a really cool place where something is always happening.  The waitress is always friendly and has a big smile on her face (even though she sometimes makes weird facial expressions).  She has a secret – and I happen to know what it is – and then there’s the owner of the bar…he’s interesting in a whole other way, kinda the strong, silent type but a real stand-up guy (even though he has lousy taste in women).  The bar is a place where I’m happy; a place I can go to forget the everyday worries and just lose myself in the atmosphere and drama.  I get so involved there that I spend the hours when I can’t be there thinking about how much I just want to go back to the bar and become oblivious to the annoying details of everyday life.

The bar I hang out at these days is Merlotte’s and my favorite waitress, Sookie, always helps me take my mind off my own troubles.  Sam (the owner) makes me feel like somehow, everything’s going to turn out okay – even though the road might be a little rocky.  Merlotte’s is home because I know everyone and even when I want to smack Sookie for putting up with Eric’s nonsense, I trust her judgment and keep my mouth closed (she knows I’m thinking it, anyway).

At least four years ago, I read the first eight or nine books in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series.  I read them all – one right after another – during the summer.  I clearly remember lying on my couch with the air-conditioning blasting and being totally engrossed in the stories.  I didn’t like Bill Compton, I really adored Gran, and I felt so bad for Jason that I ripped into the next book just to make sure he’d be okay.

Then I had to wait for the next book and…well, I kinda got distracted hanging out with my new friends, Rachel Morgan and her sidekick Jenks.  Then I lost touch with them when I met Jane Yellowrock because she was there for me when I beside myself with worry over someone I love very much.  Jane came to the hospital with me every day and she took my mind off of things I had no control over.  Jane told me about her whole life – one book after the other – while I waited for things to get better and she was my respite and escape when things were too scary in the real world.

Jane went on vacation for a while (the next book hadn’t been released yet) so Sookie and I renewed our friendship and I’ve been spending all my free time with her and ignoring my other friends – Arienne, Caly, and my new friend Hope.  As bad as I feel for ignoring them, Sook has things going on and I need to know how it will all turn out.

That’s the thing about books:  once you’re hooked, you’re in for the long haul.  I might put off reading the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series just because I know I don’t want it to end (really, it ended a while ago, but I was busy with Arienne so I’m a bit behind the times).

My point is this:  my writing has grown out of my deep love for the escape books have always provided me.  Just like people, the characters sometimes disappoint me, but in the hands of a skilled author, that disappointment turns into something I can relate to.  For instance, I really want Sookie to tell Eric off – but she’s being a little passive-aggressive about the whole situation right now.  I want to smack her until I think about it and realize (with some shame) that I have approached similar situations in exactly the same fashion.

That’s the great thing about a good story.  The lines between reality and fiction blur.  I know Arienne and Hope miss me, but for now, I really need to get back to the bar.  Not only do I have friends there, but they’re people who can teach me something – and maybe Arienne and Hope can benefit from those lessons.