Don’t Let the Light Go Out.


“Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our hearts.”
~Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Light One Candle”

Hanukkah

For as long as I can remember, Hanukkah has been one of my favorite holidays. There’s a warmth to it, a peace and joy, that fills my heart and lifts my soul. I have so many wonderful memories of lighting the menorah with my family, holding tight to the rainbow of ridged candles and watching as their flames danced from one to the other. Of spinning dreidels, giggling as they whirled around in a blur of color before tumbling to the floor with one of the four Hebrew letters facing up. Of seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they opened gifts, of excitedly tearing open my own, of gathering around the table during our family party to eat pizza, latkes, and doughnuts. Hanukkah is togetherness. It’s family. It’s love. It’s hope and faith and belief. It’s light.

And it’s a teacher, too. Here’s what the Festival of Lights always reminds me:

Miracles can happen, if we only believe in them enough. That oil in the menorah so long ago? It was only enough to last for one day, but its flame stayed steady for eight, until more could be found. So often today, we hear about the negative. All we have to do is turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or scan the headlines online, and it’s enough to knock the wind out of us. This week, especially, the news has been particularly hard to take. And hearing about all these things … well, I don’t know about you guys, but it’s enough to make me want to lock the door and stay inside the house sometimes. But there are wonderful stories, too. Heartwarming ones. There are stories about holiday miracles, like the homeless man who wanted a family for Thanksgiving and got one. Stories about those who dedicate countless time and effort to help others, both people and animals, like the amazing bunny rescue I got Jasper from – they’ve found homes for nearly two hundred rabbits this year! Good is happening out there, too. And no, maybe we won’t all get the miracles we’re wishing for this season, but who knows? Maybe we will.

We can overcome the odds with strength and determination. The odds were stacked against the Maccabees all those years ago. Their temple had been seized. They were in hiding. They had many, many battles to fight. But they didn’t give up. They got that temple back and rededicated it. How many of us can relate? We all have our own battles, big and small. We all have our moments of wanting to give up, to give in. But if we keep pushing, keep listening to our hearts and following our whispers, who knows what we can achieve? I’d like to think it’s something far greater than we can even imagine.

A little light goes a long way. That light shimmered bright as the stars in the temple, even when it wasn’t supposed to anymore. The flicker held strong in the darkness. Something I’ve learned: for me, that light is my family and friends. It’s the people who offer a hand when I’ve stumbled, the ones who are there for me unconditionally, whether it’s to listen, to give advice and support, or just to spend time together, either in person or via technology. You guys are my light. Is that corny? Maybe, but it’s true. When I’m feeling down, all I have to do is think of the truly special people in my life and it brings back a glow. One light begets another. One flame helps the next grow. One person can help another in such important ways.

These are the things I remember when I look at the menorah now. Happy Hanukkah to everyone celebrating, and Chag Sameach!

Wordless Wednesday: From My iPod.

“Always remember to fall asleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose.”
~Anonymous

Thank you all so very much for your support, encouragement, and sweet words on my last post. It’s appreciated more than I can say, and truly does help. You all are the best, and I <3 you — so much so, in fact, that I'm going to subject you to more bunny pictures. Hee. Apologies if you've already seen some of these on Instagram and Twitter. My furry BFF has taken over my iPod these days, but I do manage to snap a few other photos, too.

Hmm, maybe I'll give this writing thing a try. It always looks like fun when Ma does it. Perhaps a book series about a bunny?

Hmm, maybe I’ll give this writing thing a try. It always looks like fun when Ma does it. Perhaps a book series about a bunny?

Jasper's getting to be a pro at the selfie.

Jasper’s getting to be a pro at the selfie.

Who needs turkey on Thanksgiving when you can have hot chocolate instead?

Who needs turkey on Thanksgiving when you can have hot chocolate instead?

I got a Jamberry gift certificate for my birthday and ordered some awesome designs.    First time using it and I'm already in love.

I got a Jamberry gift certificate for my birthday and ordered some awesome designs. First time using it and I’m already in love.

Pondering the great, wide world.

Pondering the great, wide world.

It's always a joy to visit with Nancy. Of all the GH fan events, hers are among my very favorites.

It’s always a joy to visit with Nancy. Of all the GH fan events, hers are among my very favorites.

Music is power. Music is hope. Music is inspiration. Grateful for these songs which speak to my soul and remind it to keep on trying.

Music is power. Music is hope. Music is inspiration. Grateful for these songs which speak to my soul and remind it to keep on trying.

And a quick video, because what’s cuter than a bunny binky?

Enough is Enough.

“Sometimes the key to making progress is to recognize how to take that very first step. Then you start your journey. You hope for the best and you stick with it: day in, day out. Even if you’re tired, even if you want to walk away, you don’t. Because you are a pioneer. But nobody ever said it’d be easy.”
~Grey’s Anatomy

Enough is enough.

It’s a statement of strength, a declaration of clarity. Enough is enough; I’m putting my foot down. Enough is enough; I’m taking control of my destiny. Enough is enough; I’m choosing to travel down another path.

Those thoughts have all floated through my mind multiple times since I dove head-first into the querying process almost five years ago. Five years. That’s a long time, friends. It’s a long time to ride the roller-coaster, your hopes soaring sky-high as the cart inches up and then plummeting back down to the ground as you enter the steep drop. It’s a long time to put your work out there, your babies out there, your heart and soul out there, knowing full well that it’s making you vulnerable in such an emotional way. And there have been wonderful moments, to be sure. There have been requests that etched a perma-smile on my face and feedback, both from agents and loved ones, that filled me up with pure joy. But there have also been not-so-wonderful moments. There have been form rejections and no responses at all. There have been emails that made me want to curl up under the covers and hide away from the world. There have been tears. Lots of tears, more than I’d like to admit. So many times, I’ve been tempted to give up. Enough is enough. Something you love so deeply shouldn’t, in turn, bring about all this hurt. It’s not right. It’s like Eden, my most recent MC, says: “Sometimes inspiration doesn’t matter. Sometimes we can wish with all our hearts, work day in and day out to create the lives we yearn for, and still, it doesn’t happen. Reality isn’t like a song, or a book, or a movie, and happily-ever-after doesn’t always exist. When we realize that, maybe it’s best not to push it. Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole just ends up chipping off its corners.”

That’s where I was on Friday, after a particularly heart-wrenching week in the querying world, and, to a point, where I still am now. It’s where I’ve been before. And, I know, it’s where I’ll be again. Because even though I sat myself down on Friday and really, truly considered giving up, that just isn’t a possibility. When I think of not jumping into all the stories still on my to-write list, it makes me so sad. When I think of abandoning the characters who have already become such a part of me, it leaves me feeling empty. When I think of a life without writing … honestly, it’s unimaginable. Literally, I can’t fathom it. So I remind myself this:

If I’d given up after the first rejection, I’d never have gotten a partial or full request. If I’d given up after the first book queried, I’d never have written five others. If I’d given up after it felt like the publishing part was draining the happiness from the writing part, I’d never have gotten to work on the project that filled me with pure, unadulterated passion and delight. If I’d given up when a draft was particularly challenging, I’d never have seen how rewarding the revision process can be. If I’d given up after the form rejections, I’d never have gotten the ones that, even though they were ultimately a “no,” still made my heart sing. If I’d given up all those times, I’d never be the writer, and person, I am today. And if I give up now? Who knows what I’ll miss out on?

Despite the countless hours of work, I’m not where I want to be yet. Not by a long shot. There’s so much more I want to do, and I feel limited a lot. I can’t share my stories with everyone yet. I can’t invite the real world into my characters’ worlds. I can’t call myself a published author. I can’t buy extravagant or expensive holiday gifts, because devoting so much time to making this writing dream a reality doesn’t exactly help my bank account. I can’t donate to all the charities I want to, and I can’t adopt more than one bunny, because I just can’t afford the added expense right now. I can’t.

Enough is enough. And that’s okay.

Because maybe I can’t do it all, but I can do something. I can’t rescue all the bunnies, but I can give Jasper a warm, good home where he feels safe and loved after a life that didn’t start out that way. I couldn’t write a large check for Giving Tuesday last week, but I could donate a small amount to three of my favorite charities. I can’t fix all the horrible things that have been in the news lately, but I can make myself aware and educated. I can’t get my book babies out there yet, but I can share them with a smaller circle and let their feedback be what I focus on, what I let buoy me up when it feels like I might drown. I can do what I can, with what I have, and I can recognize that, for now, that’s alright. All we can do is our best. All we can try is our hardest. That’s enough. We’re enough. It’s tough to believe that sometimes, especially when it feels like the world is telling us otherwise, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try really, really hard. I hope you all will, too.

Because sometimes enough truly is enough.

26 Reasons to be Thankful.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
~Melody Beattie

Today, and every day, I am filled with gratitude for an alphabet of blessings. Some are big; others are small. Some are common; others are unique. Some create a framework; others create a patchwork. All bring happiness and color to my life; all make me come alive. I hope the same is true for y’all – that whatever you’re giving thanks for this holiday, it brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart.

It was tough to narrow down this last, really tough, and I love that. Because, truly, twenty-six letters will never be enough to express my appreciation. Let me try, though:

Animals that make our lives better and more fulfilling. Books that transport us into their beautiful worlds and resound with a glittery kind of magic. Charities that provide so much help, in so many ways, for those who need it most. Daydreams and wishes that light our creativity on fire and turn those sparks into brilliant flames. Empathy that allows us to treat others with kindness in a world where there is, too often, not enough of that to go around. Friends and family who support me unconditionally and make my life so much more special, just by being in it. Good health, which will forever be the most important thing. Hot chocolate and hot chicken soup, which not only warm my body, but also my memories. Imagination, which lets me travel to places I’ve never seen and discover things I’ve never experienced. Jasper, my furry little love, who has brought more happiness and companionship to my life over these past two months than I even thought possible. Knitting and crocheting – not because I have any talent in either, but because Gram did and that means I get to have her with me always, just by grazing a hand over one of the blankets she made for me. Lunch notes from my mom – twelve school years’ worth, all of which make me smile whenever I reread them. Music and song lyrics that speak to the soul and remind us we’re not alone.

Nantucket, which has inspired several of my books and given me a place to dream of visiting one day. Ordinary moments that are extraordinary in their own right. Photographs that are freeze-frames in time and let us relive “moments like this” all over again. Qualified and compassionate doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and teachers, all of whom impact countless lives with their work. Reading – not only books and news articles, but also the letters, emails, IMs, social media posts, and text messages that let me keep in touch with friends who might be far in distance, but never in thought. Shelters, both for people and animals, that offer a warm place to stay, loving care, and a voice for those who are trying to find their own. Television shows like General Hospital and American Idol, which have given me endless hours of entertainment, and, more importantly, friendships that will last a lifetime. Uniqueness – because life would be awfully boring if we were all the same. Ventnor, New Jersey, the place where I spent two weeks every summer growing up, the place that will always remind me of Grandmom Dot and Pop Joe, and the place I’ll always love with all my heart. Writing – my passion that only continues to grow and has gifted me with the most amazing experiences, getting to create stories in my head and meet the characters who write their journeys into my own, and also the most amazing people, a writing community that is, quite simply put, wonderful beyond words. Xylophones, guitars, drums, flutes, and all the other instruments that bring a melody to our everyday lives and make them hum with a new tune. You – all of you who are reading this, thank you for being in my life and changing it for good. Zealousness, because enthusiasm brightens every day.

That’s my alphabet of blessings. What’s yours?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Wishing you all the most beautiful holiday! XOXO.

Tuesday’s Tunes: On Repeat.


“Put my heart where my head should be
And light up the rest of me
‘Cause the dreams
They won’t fall apart
Through the stars, through the stars
When your life is a work of art.”
~Rachel Platten, “Work of Art”

Wow, it’s been forever and a day since my last Tuesday’s Tunes post. That’s partially because of WATERCOLORS – when I’m working on a book, I tend to listen to its playlist repeatedly and focus mainly on those songs – and also because it’s been a long time, too long, since I bought any albums. The good news? Some of my favorite singers have released new music within the past couple months, which means there are fresh melodies twirling through my mind and inspiring my soul. Here are a few of them:

“Work of Art” and “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten: Okay, I can’t choose just one song from Rachel, because I’ve been listening to both of these every day lately. She released the first one a couple years ago, and “Fight Song” is new. Both are wonderful. Both are inspiring. Both are special. These songs seep into the crevices of your heart and make it beat with added hope and faith. In fact, they’ve become the soundtrack to my life as of late, as I navigate the roller-coaster that is querying two books simultaneously. There are days when I’m on top of the world and days when I want to scream in frustration, but no matter what, these songs remind me to keep going, keep persevering, keep fighting for what I believe in.

“Trouble” – Didi Benami: Didi was my favorite on American Idol back in 2010, and she just released her debut album Reverie in September. It’s a fabulous collection of insightful, evocative music that works its way into your head and refuses to leave. There’s a whimsy to Didi’s lyrics and her voice, and it really sets her apart. “Trouble” is one of the singles from her new album, and it does an awesome job of showing how unique her music is.

“Universe Electric” – Angie Miller: Angie is another Idol favorite, and I just love her debut EP Weathered. It’s hard to pick which song I like best – so many are awesome – but if I had to choose, it’d be “Universe Electric.” Not only is it catchy, but it has such a great message about us all joining together to turn a spark into a flame. Angie is always telling her supporters to “dream big,” and that sense of hope and optimism definitely comes through not only in this song, but in the whole album.

“I Was Here” – Kristin Chenoweth: I was so excited when I heard that Kristin was releasing a live album. It was such a special experience to attend her concert in February, and now I get to relive it every time I listen to Coming Home! My favorite song on the album is “I Was Here,” not only because it’s the theme song for two of my characters, but also because it’s mine. It’s the kind of song that builds you up and gives you wings … the kind of song that makes you want to fly. Kristin explains why she loves it, too, in this video.

What songs do you have on repeat lately?

Seven Facts.

“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”
~Lucille Ball

The wonderful and super talented Julie nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award – thank you so much, friend! – and I figured today would be a great day to post about it. WATERCOLORS has officially become the newest member of Query Land, which means I really need to think about something other than inboxes, synopses, and writing. Speaking of writing, though, you all should check out Julie’s blog, because it’s one of the best out there!

Now, on to the award! I’m supposed to share seven facts about myself and nominate fifteen others to do the same. As it so happens, I think you all are lovely, so instead of picking specific people, I’m opening this up to everyone.

My random facts …

1. My college graduation gift was the coolest thing ever: a trip to NYC to attend the Daytime Emmy Awards (back when they were held at Radio City Music Hall) and a fan event with one of my very favorite General Hospital actresses. The Emmys were actually on the same day as graduation, and we almost didn’t make it there in time, thanks to torrential rain causing a power outage on campus that delayed commencement and a drive to New York that took twice as long as usual. Once we did arrive, though, it was an amazing experience. Nine and a half years later, I still smile every time I think about it.

Daytime Emmys

2. I will drive completely out of my way to avoid the interstate. I don’t care if it means the trip takes an extra half an hour … if it means not having to merge onto the highway while cars simultaneously zoom by in four different lanes, I’m all for it.

3. After finishing SANDS OF TIME last year (ha, so much for not talking about writing … that lasted long!), I treated myself to a customized necklace that says “follow your whisper.” That phrase plays a very important role in the book, and I loved the idea of sharing it with my main characters. Now that I’m finished WATERCOLORS, I would love to get something to commemorate that story, too. Perhaps a bracelet with one of Eden’s lyrics?

FYW Necklace

4. When I was a senior in high school, one of my favorite teachers asked me to be the student coordinator for a community media symposium he was organizing. It involved a lot of work, which I loved, and a speech in front of 200 people, which I did not love. My heart was skittering a million miles a minute, every sound in the room seemed amplified as it pounded in my eardrums, and I’m pretty sure my hands shook the whole time … but I did it, and it really was a growing experience.

5. I am a proud bunny mommy. It’s been almost a month and a half now since I adopted Jasper, and I absolutely adore him. He’s really starting to get comfortable here now, and it’s such fun to watch him explore his home. He loves to give kisses, “binky” around the room – his happy dance where he runs, jumps, and twists at the same time – and he always bops my hand with his nose when he scampers by. His new favorite game is hopping over my legs, running around to my feet, and then hopping over again … and again … and again. He’s my furry little love, and I’m so lucky to be his Ma.

Jasper Jellybean

6. I don’t watch too many television shows, but when I find one I love, I can’t get enough. My newest favorite is Madam Secretary. I look forward to watching it every week and am crossing my fingers that it does well enough to be picked up for a second season.

7. I always keep the blanket Gram crocheted for me nearby. It sits on my desk chair during the spring and summer, and on my bed in the fall and winter. She was working on it for me in the months before we lost her, and my aunt was sweet enough to finish it up. I love keeping it close to my heart, because that’s where Gram will always be, too.

Blanket

Your turn – share three facts about yourself in the comments!

777.

“You can make anything by writing.”
~C.S. Lewis

Some of my awesome writing friends participated in the “777 Challenge” recently, and I enjoyed reading their fabulous excerpts so much, I decided to play along! Here’s a bit of WATERCOLORS, the book I’m preparing to query.

There are homeless shelters in the city, wonderful ones that build people up when they’ve fallen down. I could go there. I should go there. But I can’t move. My legs melt to jelly when I stand and I have to grab on to the railing before they betray me completely. Suddenly I’m exhausted. I’m so, so tired and afraid. Every ounce of energy has been zapped from my body, filtered out by an ominous sieve, and the idea of walking anywhere, even a few blocks, seems akin to climbing Mount Everest. I just … can’t.

And so I slide back to the concrete steps, letting my thoughts escape once again to all the shows that have been played inside. Ryman Auditorium is happiness personified. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and the dream realized. It’s part of the reason why so many tourists journey to Nashville and why so many artists crave the chance to call this city their own.

Maybe that’s why I stay.

Maybe I’m craving something, too.

Fellow writers, it’s your turn. Go to page seven of your WIP, jump down seven lines, and post seven sentences – and make sure to leave me a link, because I’d love a glimpse into your stories!

Greetings from Eden.

“We get what we give, so let’s paint this world bright
Fight for each dream, celebrate each life.”
~Eden Abraham, “Watercolors”

Hey y’all!

I thought I’d give Shari a break from posting this week, since she just finished her final round of edits on my story and can barely even look at a computer screen right now without her eyes getting bleary and her thoughts immediately dancing over to my world instead of hers. Who can blame her, though, after four months of writing and six months of revising? It might have taken five different drafts, but you guys, it was worth it, because I’m so excited with the story Shari and I told together. I tried my best to help her along the way, to whisper in her ear and get inside her head. Sometimes I even flat-out defied the things she thought I was going to do. That’s really fun, isn’t it? Showing your writer-friend who’s in charge?

So many things about my book have changed over the past several months, but its heart still beats the same way. Its song still hums with the same notes, the same melodies, the same lyrics. One of the most important things I’ve learned as a songwriter is that you have to take it one word at a time. The beauty of music is in its authenticity, in the organic way it blooms, and that is true for writing, too. I think there are a lot of similarities between music and writing, in fact, and I’m happy about that, because it’s allowed Shari to truly delve into my soul while working on this book. She was able to understand what music means to me, because it’s what her own passion stirs in her. She was able to understand the chords of my heart, because hers resonate the same way. She was able to understand my persistence, because that same determination flows through her veins.

My songwriting, though? Let’s just say it was a good thing I was there to lend a hand. :)

I hope y’all will get to read my story one day. I hope you’ll get to experience Nashville, TN and Portsmouth, NH. I hope you’ll love the people in my life as much as I do, because they are good people. Wonderful people. The kind of people I could – and, often, do – write a song about. But most of all, I hope you’ll be able to take something away from the lessons I’ve learned. I hope you’ll see that life isn’t about how many times we fall, but how many times we pick ourselves back up. It’s about letting yourself lean on people and offering them a pillar of support in return. It’s about learning to trust, and believe, and take that scariest leap of faith. I think that’s what us creative types do all the time. We put ourselves out there. We put our hearts out there. It’s hard, and it’s emotional, and it’s nerve-wracking. But for me, and for Shari too, it’s necessary. Because there’s something else I’ve learned: a wish is nothing if you don’t take the steps to make it come true.

Soon it’ll be time for my story to start inching into the world. To make its way to agents, all the while still holding court in Shari’s heart. She seems kind of crazy to me for voluntarily querying two novels simultaneously, but then I think about my songs and know I would do the same thing. I would take every chance I get, make and create every opportunity, and I’m pretty proud of my writer-friend for doing that. She says she’s proud of me, too, and I’m glad. We make a good team.

Happy Sunday, everyone, and remember: we all have a journey to embark on and a story to sing. Make yours uniquely you. Color it vibrantly.

xoxo, Eden

Wordless Wednesday: Jasper Jellybean Jax.


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~Anatole France

Meet Jasper Jellybean Jax, everyone! Tomorrow marks his two week “bunniversary,” but truly, it feels like he’s been part of the family for so much longer. He’s sweet and snuggly, but also so energetic, goofy, and outgoing (most of the pictures I’ve taken end up as a blur because he’s hopping and twisting so much!). I’m so glad to have adopted him, and I adore watching him explore his new home. What a love he is!

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