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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Guest Post: Fun You Could Be Having NOW.

First up, congratulations to Mary P, the winner of Sarah McCoy’s THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER, as chosen by random.org. I hope you love the book as much as I did!

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And now, I have a treat for you all today: a wonderful guest post by my super talented, super fun, super creative friend Nikki. She’s a member of my online writing group and has recently signed with a fantastic agent. Be sure to check out her website!

* * *

Recently, I came across this article on using visual content to market your book or blog. It led me to this site on designing images. Which then lead me to straight-up bliss.

Are you the type of writer who also matches her clothes in her spare time? Do you pin scraps of wrapping paper to your walls as art, whipping your friends into a semi-rabid state as they beg you to Do Their Hair, Design Their Kids’ Halloween Costumes, and Look at Their Color Swatches (just, you know, to See What You Think.)

I am not one of those writers.

So obviously, I’m no professional at design, and this article isn’t a How-To. It’s a To-Do. Put Canva.com on your list of fun you could be having right now!

Copy of S H A T T E R

I threw together this mock-up of a cover for my YA mystery in like two hours. TWO HOURS.

(For comparison: I have a brand new version of that same manuscript waiting on my brand new agent’s desk and who knooooows when or if an editor will get to it, let alone a cover-designer. Waiting–waiting is how writing goes.)

So my point is, writing has led me to overestimate the skill and time-commitment I need to surpass Lame-O in other areas, like design.

My other point is that designs and images make your blog or marketing better and it’s worth two hours now and again to make that happen. I base this claim on having read other people’s claims. I think those other people are really on to something.

For example, here I could babble about my blog, which centers lately on writing with diversity, or show you an image.

Soooo much cooler.

Want two more?

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Images do a lot of your writing for you. I follow Canva’s little design formulas, which force me to shut the heck up–um, I mean, trim my word-count. An image that uses, say, 10 words, can do as much or more than the paragraph of 100 words I’d need otherwise. Also, these images are digested as informative, rather than pleading or pushy.

PLEASE

PLUS, you can design little reminder signs for children, like I did at my latest backyard party–a Mexican Fiesta with sombreros I wanted to save for next year. Isn’t it adorable?

Okay, that’s my plug for Canva.com. Go! Design! Enjoy!

You deserve it!

Nikki is a mom of “a gaggle of children,” and occasionally escapes them by diving into a YA world of sleuthing and snarking. She blogs at http://www.nikkitrionfo.com.

The Baker’s Daughter.


“The marks on our lives are like music notes on the page–they sing a song.”
~Tobias, via Sarah McCoy in The Baker’s Daughter

The Baker's Daughter

Happy Monday, friends! What do you say we start this week with a book giveaway? The wonderful Sarah McCoy has so graciously offered up a copy of THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER, and I’m thrilled to share this story with one of you guys. I absolutely adored the novel when I read it last spring, as you can see from the recap I originally posted:

You know those books that do more than touch your heart? The ones that slip seamlessly into your soul and take up permanent residence? The ones that make you laugh one moment and grow misty-eyed the next? The ones that strike a lasting chord? That’s what this book did for me. It’s been a long time since I was affected by a story on such a visceral level. From the very first word straight through until the very last, I was just spellbound by the characters and their journeys. When Reba Adams visits Elsie’s German Bakery to interview its owner and write a Christmas piece about her for a local magazine, she has no idea what awaits her. What memories she will hear from both Elsie – who, as a German teenager during WWII, hid Tobias, an escaped Jewish boy, for months – and her daughter Jane. What a deep, life-changing friendship she will form with the women. What inspiration and hope she will see in them and feel reflected on herself. The book flips between present and past, showing us the heart of who Reba and Elsie are, and offers an insightful, educational, inspiring, enlightening view. I found myself thinking about these characters even when I wasn’t reading. I woke up two hours early on more than one occasion to squeeze in extra time with them, I sat on a beach with a windchill in the forties because I only had two chapters left and couldn’t imagine not finishing the story right then, even if it meant my hands turned to ice. This story, it is compelling. Mesmerizing. Fascinating. It left a handprint on my heart, on my thoughts, and will stay with me for a very, very long time to come.

Those words, written back in May, still hold true. It’s been five months now since I read this beautiful book and I still find myself thinking about it, still find the characters dancing their way into my mind and weaving their stories into my thoughts. Books like this remind me why I first wanted to be a writer and inspire me to keep going, keep persevering, keep writing, keep dreaming. Quite simply put, books like this are a gem and make the world a better place.

I’m so excited to give away a copy of this novel! To enter, leave a comment – by Monday, September 29th – telling me: what’s your favorite treat to buy from a bakery? The winner will be chosen by random.org and posted next week. Good luck!

Currently.

“It doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
~ Lucille Ball

Well, well, well … guess who’s finished (for now) with her revisions and actually has the time/lack of bleary eyes/mental energy to blog again? This most recent round of edits took four weeks and involved a lot of adding, deleting, and rewriting, and although I was definitely ready for a break by the time it was done, I am seriously so happy with how the novel evolved in the fourth draft. It’s officially my shortest book now (you’d better believe I did a happy dance when the word count came in nearly a thousand below my goal), but the awesome part was watching the story grow, even as its length shrunk. Best. Feeling. Ever. I have some downtime now, while it’s with the next pair of readers, so I figured it’d be fun to do this ‘currently’ post that I saw over on Brittany’s blog.

Currently watching: The only show I’m watching on a regular basis right now is General Hospital (which has been so good lately!), but I’m really looking forward to the return of Grey’s Anatomy and Shark Tank in two weeks. Oh, and I just recently finished watching the full I Love Lucy/Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour collection. It was a special treat, because although I’ve seen every episode of the half-hour show before, there were some longer ones that were new to me. There’s just nothing like watching an episode for the first time and laughing until you cry. What a timeless classic and priceless treasure that show is, what a vibrant thread woven into entertainment history. No matter how many times I watch, this constantly holds true: I will always love Lucy.

Currently listening to: The soundtrack I made for WATERCOLORS. I’ve always felt that music and writing are so strongly intertwined, and I love to listen to songs that sing my books’ stories. There’s something special about hearing a lyric and instantly being transported into a scene. Now if only I could find someone who’d take the song I wrote for the book (and rewrote … and rewrote … songwriting is hard, you guys!) and turn it into more than lyrics on a page!

Currently thinking about: How fun it was to meet Danielle Fishel (Topanga from Boy Meets World/Girl Meets World) at her book signing last night! She’s kind, witty, and personable, and it was so cool to chat with her after watching Boy Meets World every week when I was growing up. She told us she’s going to narrate the audiobook version of her memoir, and I think that’ll be so fun, to hear it all in her own voice.

Currently trying to figure out: If I’m insane for actually contemplating the idea of querying two novels at the same time. SANDS OF TIME is still out there, and I have no intentions of pulling it back, even though WATERCOLORS will (hopefully) be ready to go within a month or so. Glutton for punishment? Perhaps. But I won’t know if I don’t try, right?

Currently looking forward to: Adopting a bunny! I’ve been in touch with the woman who runs the shelter closest by and am sending off my adoption application today. Just the thought of bringing home one of those sweet bunnies makes me smile. The only problem? There are six that I’m drawn to, and I don’t know how I’m going to choose only one after meeting them. One look at those precious faces and the decision will be even harder … but talk about a great decision to have to make!

Currently reading:I just finished Matthew Dicks’ MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, and oh my gosh, I absolutely adored it! It’s one of the most creative, unique, poignant stories I’ve read in a very long time. From beginning to end, I was completely captivated and couldn’t put it down. I finished the whole book in three days, something I haven’t done in quite awhile. Next on my list is Sarah Jio’s THE VIOLETS OF MARCH.

Currently making me happy: A lovely birthday week that’s been filled with such sweet messages, gifts, and wishes from family and friends. I won’t lie, the thought of turning thirty-one kind of had me in a funk for a bit – somehow it seems so much older than thirty – but you know what? Getting older is a good thing. We are so blessed for every year, every month, every day, and I’m determined to live that gratitude on a daily basis.

Your turn! Answer one – or more – of these in the comments!