Things I’m Loving Lately.

“All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.”
~Clay Jannon, via Robin Sloane in Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore

Hi, friends! I’m popping in from Revision Land – started the third round of edits on Watercolors this week and am somehow still enjoying the process immensely! – to say hello and see what everyone’s up to. Can we talk about the fact that it’s already mid-August? I seriously don’t understand how that’s possible. Where has the summer gone? It always seems to fly by, but this year … I don’t know, I feel like it should still be June. I wish we could slow down time, but since that’s not a possibility, I hope you all are taking a moment to enjoy these hazy, lazy (or often not-so-lazy) days and the warm sunshine. Here are a few things I’ve been loving lately:

– A weekend getaway to Lancaster, PA. We went to see the show Ballroom With a Twist, which featured performances from Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol finalists. It was such a great combination – featuring one of my favorite SYTYCDers from all the seasons! – and was so fun to see the routines in person.

Ballroom With a Twist

– The duck pond at the hotel where we stayed. There were dozens of ducks in and around the water. How adorable are these babies?

Baby ducks

– The summer scents from Bath & Body Works. Honolulu Sun, Cool Coconut Surf, and Hello Sunshine are my new favorites and will have me dreaming of the beach even when the weather turns cool.

– The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I don’t watch regularly – I’m usually asleep by the time it comes on – but I had the chance to go to a taping of the show last week and had a blast. It was so cool to see all the behind-the-scenes details and to experience such a unique kind of energy. Helen Mirren was my favorite of the guests. Added bonus: we got off the subway directly below the Simon & Schuster building and got to walk through the lobby on our way outside. This writing and reading fanatic was most excited.

Jimmy Fallon tickets

– Wawa’s banana cream smoothie. They have so many good flavors, but this one just might be the most delicious. It’s fruity and sweet, the perfect summer treat.

– Winning at miniature golf not once, but twice, and getting two holes-in-one in the same game. For someone who almost always loses, this was a pretty awesome triumph. I may or may not have done a victory dance.

Mini golf

– Animal rescue and adoption centers. I’ve been thinking about adopting a bunny for awhile now and have fallen in love with some on the centers’ websites. Hopefully I’ll get to make a furry friend part of the family soon.

– Flowers like this. The world is so pretty when its colors are bold and bright.

Flowers

– Unique, original stories. I just finished MR. PENUMBRA’S 24 HOUR BOOKSTORE and really enjoyed it. It’s different from the kinds of books I normally read, but different is good sometimes.

– Working on this book baby of mine. I so love seeing it grow with each round of revisions – and shrink, too! The final draft of this will end up being my shortest ever, and for anyone who knows the way I write, you’ll understand why I’m so proud of that.

What are you all loving lately?

Advertisements

What’s Up?


“I will not fall
I will stand tall through it all
Just so you can see
The strongest parts of me.”
~Elise Testone, “I Will Not Break”

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, so I figured I’d pop in with another.

What I’m listening to: Elise Testone released her debut album, In This Life, last week, and I’m so enjoying it. She was my pick from American Idol in 2012 – there’s something very textured and unique to her voice, like it’s telling a story – and I’ve been looking forward to hearing new music from her ever since. Favorite songs include: Still We Try, Never Gave Me Butterflies, Save Me, and I Will Not Break. Also: Kristin Chenoweth’s Taylor the Latte Boy. She sang it at her concert on the fifth and I seriously have not been able to get it out of my head for the past twelve days. So fun and catchy.

What I’m watching: Olympics, Olympics, OLYMPICS. If there’s coverage airing, my television is on. I love everything about the games: the spirit, the dedication, the joy, the diligence, the hope, the faith, the pride. There’s just nothing like getting to watch someone’s dream come true. And how inspiring is it to know that, with years of determination and hard work, the training can pay off? Obviously writing is a far cry from figure skating or skiing, but seeing those athletes achieve their goals makes me want to jump into my desk chair and keep working on my own.

What I’m reading: Sarah Beard’s PORCELAIN KEYS. I’ll have a full review (and giveaway!) up on the 28th, so I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say this: it’s a book that stays with you. When I’m not hanging out with the characters, I want to be. They resonate like the music that runs through their souls, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in their story. If only I could just sit and read all day …

What I’m writing: Still hard at work on WATERCOLORS! I’m 64,000(ish) words in and enjoying it more and more with every day. Eden’s life is starting to turn around in wonderful ways, and even though I want to shake her for making choices that will bring it all to a screeching halt down the line, I must admit, it’s such fun to write this part of the book. I really feel like I’m getting to know her well now, and the supporting cast, too. Today’s writing session featured a diary entry from Eden’s mother Mariah and it made me super excited to flesh out her part of the story more. It’s amazing how characters’ lives, how all of our lives, are so interconnected like sentences on a page. Getting to weave their threads together is such an exhilarating process.

What I’m smiling about: a countdown to spring (thirty days, thirty days, thirty days!), this video of a precious polar bear cub making his debut in Toronto, irises that fill the house with their sweet scent, and new nail polish that adds a splash of color to the day.

What are you listening to / watching / reading / writing / smiling about this week?

Six.


“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
~Stephen King

If you heard a squeal of happiness yesterday at approximately 10:30AM Eastern time – or perhaps it was more of a cheer – chances are it was coming from Pennsylvania. From the general vicinity of my desk. From my mouth. Because that’s when I reached those always bittersweet words: THE END. When I first wrote them back in June, I was misty-eyed. When I reaffirmed them yesterday, I was smiling from ear-to-ear. My major round of revisions? FINISHED. And the icing on the cake? I came in more than 2500 words below my goal. That makes for one very excited writer. The final chapter of this book was my favorite thing to write, ever, and even though I was so ready to wrap up edits by the point I reached it, yesterday’s work was still a joy. That’s what this manuscript will forever represent to me: pure, unfettered, unequivocal joy. I’m taking a week-long break while we head to the shore for vacation, but to be sure, it won’t be far from my thoughts or heart.

And now (this is a complete non-sequitur, but I must post this quickly so I can finish packing), a “six things” meme, which I was tagged for by the wonderful Megan.

1. What is your favorite movie quote and why?
Is it cheating if I choose a quote from the film adaptation of a book? I positively adore the following, from The Help: “Go to New York, Ms. Skeeter. Go find your life.” Skeeter is one of my all-time favorite characters. The way she stands up to societal stereotypes, the way she breaks down walls through her writing and through her determination … it’s an inspiration. She tells the stories she can’t not tell, and she reminds all of us writers to never, ever give up. We must find our lives. We must create them.

2. It’s back to school time. What was the best year you had in school? What made it so great?
You know, I’m really not sure if I can pinpoint a single year. I honestly enjoyed so many of them. Junior year in high school was an incredible amount of work, but I loved my AP English Lit and American History classes. I learned more in that English course than in any other. I adored my senior year in high school because of all the extracurriculars I was part of, especially being on the steering committee for our school’s Involvement Day (where regular classes were cancelled, a plethora of speakers came to speak to students about a variety of causes and volunteer organizations, and everyone got to choose which sessions they attended) and acting as student coordinator for the district’s media symposium (even if it meant giving a speech in front of over a hundred people – talk about nervous!). Going further back, I loved sixth grade – candlelight hour, creating “bare books” with the first graders, watching Voyage of the Mimi, and more – and going forward, I also loved my senior year in college.

3. Is there special something you do every day (journal, Skype someone, take a walk, etc)? What is it?
Write, write, write. That was a shocker of an answer, huh? I also go for a long walk when the weather is cooperative. And, um, does playing Candy Crush count?

4. How do you get blog ideas?
Well, obviously a lot of my posts revolve around writing – sometimes they’re updates on my own process, sometimes they’re reactions to things I’ve seen or read elsewhere. Beyond that, I try to balance it out with other topics and generally just write whatever I’m inspired to discuss.

5. Has anybody famous ever followed or mentioned you on twitter or another social media site?
Yes! Several General Hospital actors and actresses have responded to comments – they are amazing at being in touch with the fans – as well as some of my favorites from American Idol. There are also some fabulous authors who followed me back and who I chat with – so fun! And then there’s Kristin Chenoweth, who answered me twice within the span of a day. To say I was excited is a gigantic understatement.

6. Describe your perfect Sunday.
Writing, reading, walking, and watching a handful of old I Love Lucy episodes … unless we’re talking about a summer Sunday, which would also include swimming and take place seaside.

Your turn: answer one (or more) of the questions in the comments, please!

Popping In.


“You find me here alone,
I hear a voice that’s so unknown.
It strikes courage up my backbone,
Strength in my heart.”
~Angie Miller, “You Set Me Free”

Wow, it’s been forever and a day since I last posted anything, hasn’t it? Full blame goes to my WIP, which has me so immersed in its pages that I’ve now forgotten to eat breakfast not once, but twice, this week … oops? With only seven and a half chapters left to write I’m finding it harder and harder to pry myself away from my desk. To say I’m excited about what’s ahead for my characters is the understatement of the century. Then there’s the fact that when I get to the home stretch of a first draft everything else usually falls by the wayside. It’s just challenging to remove myself from the story’s world for very long. Even when I’m not actively working, I still find my thoughts wandering back to the book. I wanted to pop in and say hi, though, and figured I’d share a few things currently capturing my attention when I’m not hanging out with Remi and Charlotte.

What I’m Reading: I was lucky enough to win an ARC of Claire Cook’s TIME FLIES from Goodreads and am thoroughly enjoying it. Normally I back off from reading as I write the final chapters of a manuscript – I like to stay in my own characters’ heads and not get to know others – but I’m squeezing in a couple chapters each day since this story is so fun. A main character who’s terrified of driving on highways? Let’s just say I can most definitely relate.

What I’m Watching: Anyone else a Dancing with the Stars fan? I’ve been rooting for Ingo Rademacher and Kellie Picker all season long and was thrilled for Kellie when she won the mirrorball trophy last night. Her dancing is lovely and her personality is contagious. She just makes you want to smile! How about American Idol? Anyone see the finale last week? Angie and Candice were my favorites from way back in the audition rounds. This is the first time since Carrie Underwood that one of my top picks actually won!

What I’m Listening To: Going along with the Idol theme, I pretty much haven’t been able to get Angie’s version of “Try” out of my head since she sang it on the show two weeks ago. I’ve also been loving the studio version of her self-penned single “You Set Me Free.” There’s something really special about that song. She’s going to be a big hit in the music scene, I can just tell.

Your turn: what are you reading, watching, and listening to right now?

Idol Tour 2012.

Pretty sure I’ve been the world’s worst blogger lately – forget about forty-eight hour days, somebody needs to figure out a way for there to be seventy-two instead – and since I’m currently looking at an empty suitcase (oops), I’m afraid that’s not going to change today. My schedule got a bit thrown off when I woke up yesterday with fever. Aches and chills? Not good anytime, let alone two days before you’re leaving for vacation and right before you have plans to attend a concert. Advil seems to have done its job, though, and thankfully the fever has been gone since last evening. A slight cold seems to have taken its place, which is still a bummer since we’re leaving tomorrow, but I’ll take that over the alternative any day of the week. ANYWAY, the point to my ramblings is that, yet again, this post is basically a bunch of pictures. I promise: things will get back to normal around here soon! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the snapshots from last night’s American Idol tour, one of the best in years! Everyone was fantastic, even better than on the show, and they were all so sweet when we met them afterwards.

Heejun! He made me smile every week on the show – such a fun-loving, endearing person!

Elise was my favorite this year, and her voice was CRAZY GOOD in person. Bonus points to her for being so gracious, kind, and friendly at the M&G afterwards!

Erika! She’s so bubbly and genuine!

Okay … off to tackle my packing. My next post will be written from an oceanside balcony. WhooHoo!