by Toni McGee Causey

(oops, sorry about that HUGE jpeg that ate the internet–I think I have fixed that.)

Do you remember that first taste of freedom when you’d been in school forever and ever, amen, and finally… finally… it was summer? I had it all planned: going barefoot, toes in the grass, blue sky overhead, climbing trees, riding bikes. Magic in the night. There was homemade ice cream, lazy mornings, no homework, and adventures to be had running with the feral pack of kids that made up our neighborhood. 

Mostly, though, summer meant reading binge. Going to the library, checking out as many books as they’d let me, then huddling under the sheets into the wee hours of the night, reading. Snapping off the flashlight whenever dad’s alarm went off, and waiting (not very patiently), until he finally drove off to work. Mom getting dressed to go to her job, and you knew you had to wait ‘til she cracked open your door to make sure you were sleeping? You learned to face the wall so she couldn’t really see your face, and you waited for the almost silent schnick of the bedroom door as it closed. (And, if you were me, you knew that after she’d caught you reading a few dozen times at six a.m…. having had no sleep… she’d wait a few seconds and peek again, to try to catch you reaching for your book—because she wanted you to be at least part-human the next day instead of a sleep deprived growling grouch. You waited for the double-fake-out before moving.)

Even as childhood morphed into adulthood, summer held this shimmering lure, an oasis of potential. Even with all of the kids’ activities, there was less pressure and more focus on fun. Stretching out on a canvass chair, watching the kids play while I read a book. We didn’t have much of a chance to travel when they were younger—money, scheduling nightmares between this one’s baseball and that one’s karate, our own work commitments all meant we were more or less homebound. 

I didn’t mind. I got to read. I was a pirate, a chef, an international spy. I beheaded monsters, traveled through time, and flew a spaceship. (I was quite a good pilot, let me tell you.) I solved mysteries, had romances, danced in ballrooms, and handled a sword with an expertise that made me crave lessons. There were times that I was a superhero (never appreciated) and other times I solved mysteries and thwarted villains. 

I love the summer. I especially loved, at that time of the year, finding stories that were larger than life, transporting, fascinating adventures into a world I hadn’t yet seen. Maybe it was even the world right here, but with details that were just beyond my vision. I loved being more than just me, more than just this girl right here in the deep south, with my small collection of life experiences. There weren’t enough years to cram in everything I wanted to do… but I could live it, through books. 

So this is my love letter to summer, and to books. To librarians and booksellers and all of the writers who gave me such joy. This is my love letter to my parents, who carted me to the library or the bookstore and read constantly themselves and never once seemed to think it odd that their kid was constantly walking around in a haze, halfway living in some other world somewhere. (Not that they didn’t think it odd, mind you, that they had to say my name sixteen billion times if my nose was in a book before I’d even hear them.) 

And now, how about you? Do you love the summer? Does it mean more time to do the things you enjoy? Are you going to go on vacation? Read? Play? What’s up with you? 


 p/s… Charmed and Dangerous is out on Tuesday! Here’s the new cover:


And yes, this is BOOK ONE of the Bobbie Faye trilogy—all out this summer, back-to-back. Yep, that is a new title and design. I’ve gotten quite a few emails which have ranged from, “love the new look” to “OHMYGOD, ARE YOU ON CRACK, WHY THE HELL DID YOU CHANGE THE COVERS AND THE TITLE, BOO” and a large number of “what’s going on?” questions. The short answer is that when St. Martin’s Press wanted to re-release the series in mass market, the realization that shrinking down that original cover plus title plus my name was going to make the cover of the book look like a bunch of text. Bobbie Faye’s Very (very very very) Bad Day + Toni McGee Causey…. Hard to read on the front of a smaller format. It also didn’t help that, once reduced, the crawfish started looking like a spider. Also not good. 

I’m thrilled with the new covers—I think they have a certain danger (the gun) and playfulness (the smiles, the taglines) that indicate that this is an adventure—a romp—within the suspense/thriller genre. 

WINNERS FROM MY CONTEST two weeks ago for Allison Brennan’s last book, SUDDEN DEATH were announced in the comments section of Allison’s blog last Sunday. If you haven’t claimed your prize yet, contact me and I’ll get your prize out to you right away.

17 thoughts on “Summer

  1. Allison Brennan

    I’ve pre-ordered several copies, plus plan to go out to all the reporting bookstores on Tuesday to buy copies (those of us in mass market "romance" whatever the sub-genre get screwed on the NYT list.

    I blogged about Toni’s covers the other day at Murderati and essentially said that her last covers simply did not tell the reader what the books were about–and being shelved in fiction was no help, either.

    Good luck Toni!

  2. toni mcgee causey

    Allison, you crack me up! You are insane, but I love you for it.

    And hell, I’m just happy if anyone tells their friends and family at this point, if they enjoyed the first one.

  3. Becky LeJeune

    Summer totally meant more books to read for me! And it meant swimming and no school. Ah, I miss that life. For some strange reason, I can’t shake the feeling that summer means time off, even though I get NO TIME OFF anymore. So, no real vacation plans as of yet, but I plan to sit my butt on the porch and read every afternoon (and hope that it doesn’t interfere too much with the work I’m expected to do, cause it would suck to lose the paycheck that keeps me in my regular book fix).

  4. Tom

    In the little town where I grew up, we had a fabulous storefront public library and a resourceful bunch of librarians. They’d throw all kinds of summer reading contests and other activities to get kids engaged. Happily, I have never recovered from the experience.

    I think the cover switch for Bobbie Faye will work; but how do I find "all the reporting bookstores" in my area?

  5. toni mcgee causey

    Becky — I totally forgot about the summer swimming. Loved that, especially as a teenager. I envy you the front porch you have there with the lower humidity.

    Thanks, Dusty. It’s interesting to see guy’s responses. I think this cover is targeted (obviously) more to women, though it’s the same story. It makes me curious if guys will even pick this one up this time. I think the other one, though, confused people… many thought, for example, that it was a young adult novel until they started reading and got to page two and saw the curse words. Got a few letters about that.

    Tom–I loved those contests in the summer. I sometimes have to remind myself I’m not reading for a deadline. Writing for one has sort of fried my perception on every other activity.

    I have no clue about the reporting stores. I think the big box stores like WalMart don’t report (though BF will be in those stores). I think there are a lot of great indies which report, but I don’t know which–and most of the chain bookstores report. (Although someone probably knows much more than I do about that–I think for the chain bookstores, it’s not every one of their stores which matter, but only certain ones. And it’d probably take a bit of Ce Ce’s voodoo and a chicken foot or two to find out which ones those are.)

    So really? I’m just grateful if anyone picks it up, wherever they are.

  6. Pari

    Congrats on the re-releases!

    Summer in my childhood meant the bookmobile. I’d walk 1 1/2 miles in both directions to get armloads of books (yes, the walk back was a painintheass).

    This year, our summer is going to the dogs . . . literally.

    We also have a huge garden.

  7. Louise Ure

    Summertime was swimming and horseback riding and suntanning and sneaking out of the house under a full moon to go skinny dipping at Seven Falls. I didn’t stay awake all night reading, but books never left my side during the daylight hours.

    I miss those days. It would be nice to still feel like there was a time of year I could "take off."

  8. toni mcgee causey

    Pari — wow, that is determination, with that walk. I might’ve been willing to do it. I’d have griped a lot, though. 😉

    My parents always had a garden. I was not exactly super helpful. My dad would say something like, "Go out in the garden…" and I’d look blank and he’d say, "The one right outside the back door. The one that takes up an acre? You know? The place where the food grows?" And I’d keep looking blank. But wow, I did enjoy the food. (I also enjoyed shelling peas and picking whatever.)

    Louise, that’s it exactly. I long for that notion of a big block of "time off." Without career repercussions.

  9. TerriMolina

    Again I have to say I like the original covers but the new convers are just as eye-catching. I’m looking forward to owning the whole set…hopefully autographed next time I see you! 😉

    As a kid I used to love summer vacation (even though we didn’t do anything but play outside) but now that I have kids…not so thrilled with the eight week break. haha

    This year’s summer plans actually involve traveling–which means I’ll have plenty of time to tackle my TBR list (if I don’t read them all before we leave, that is) We’re going to Wisconsin and Illinois (respectively) because my husband SO needs a vacation! When he starts griping about really stupid stuff–like the toilet paper facing the wrong way–I know it’s time for him to take a break.

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to book 3 to add to my collection!

  10. Pammy D

    I’m hitting B&N for my copies of the BF’s new cover trade paperback release. Congrats. Now, step away from the liquor cabinet, Toni and put down the bucket of ice cream…

  11. Dru

    I like the new covers and plan to buy the new re-releases especially since there’s something extra than in the original books that I’ve already read and besides they will all look the same once the third book comes out.

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Oh, my God, you do make summer sound romantic. I want to go there now, to that forgotten time, when summer meant fun and relaxation and adventure. I grew up in New Mexico, which is mostly beach (read; desert, sand) and no ocean. The mountains were beautiful, but I craved the ocean. In summers we would take family road trips to California and my favorite trips were to Laguna Beach. Summers were my favorite time and they are responsible for having drawn me out to California. I didn’t do a lot of heavy reading – mostly the Doc Savage series and my favorite science fiction writer at the time, Clifford D. Simak. My early focus on GIRLS made the library a good place to avoid.

  13. Tom

    Yeah, well, Simak and the Doc Savage team would make sure you were at least a little bit aware of girls, Stephen. Remember Doc’s cousin, Pat? A red-haired Bobbie Faye, with a more scientific approach to creating mayhem and explosions.

  14. Sylvia

    Ah, summer reading was the guilty, guilty pleasure along with swimming in the river and lake in our small town. That is, when I wasn’t working at the local laundromat. I was always clean 🙂

  15. toni mcgee causey

    Terri — yeah, summer was a lot more fun when I was a kid–we had the run of a huge neighborhood that was surrounded by woods and fields and creeks. We’d disappear for hours and hours. I remember always thinking we were so safe, because we had the "big kids" with us. I look back on that now and those "big kids" were a whopping 14 or 15 years old and not the most reliable. I hope you have a relaxing time on your vacation! (And thank you, re the old covers. And for looking for the new one.)

    Pam, that is blasphemy. 😉

    Dru, wow, thank you! That is incredibly sweet of you. Book one has some slight changes. Book 2 has much more. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to add some stuff back in and edit.

    Stephen, I loved Doc Savage. (My brother read them first, and then I grabbed them from him.) I’ve never been a summer beach person, but I love the beauty of the ocean, the water, and the peacefulness that expanse creates. Doesn’t Laguna Beach area have a lot of artists as well? Thanks (re: covers).

    Tom, that cracked me up. And I think you’re right!

    Sylvia, too funny. I’ll bet you were the cleanest kid in the neighborhood.


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