Well, hello there.


“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
~Rumi

Surprise! I bet you all thought you’d never see a post from me again, right? I certainly don’t blame you. The fact that it’s been over two months since the last time I sat down to write in this space … well, honestly, it makes me sad. I’ve genuinely loved keeping up with this blog over the past six and a half years, and I’ve missed it – and you guys! – so much. It’s been such a strange year so far, both busy and trying at the same time, but I’m really hoping to get back into a regular blogging schedule now. I figured I’d begin with an update post of sorts, so …

What I’m Writing: I finished the first draft of my WIP last Tuesday, and oh my gosh, did I have such a great time with it. The ending of a novel is always my favorite part to write. There’s such a unique kind of magic about it, this sense of possibility and hope and inspiration all tied into one. Melina and Bradley’s story has been a delight to tell. I’m so proud of them for how far they’ve come and how much they’ve risked. The book may be about an election, but it’s not a candidate who ended up as the biggest winner — it’s me, for having the chance to hang out with these characters and go on their journeys with them. I’m taking a little time off right now, but I already can’t wait to dive into revisions. There are a lot to make, and I’m so very excited to jump in.

What I’m Reading: I haven’t had nearly as much time to read lately as I would’ve liked, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple great books. Katherine Center’s HAPPINESS FOR BEGINNERS and Sarah McCoy’s THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN top the list of my favorites so far this year. They are beautifully written, evocative and inspiring and emotional. I’m not surprised, because these two talented ladies are always on my “must read” list. Right now, I’m in the middle of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, which I’m very much enjoying, and next up is Sarah Pekkanen’s THINGS YOU WON’T SAY.

What I’m Listening To: Rachel Platten’s EP is on repeat lately – and it seems I’m not the only one who adores her music, because her single “Fight Song” hit #1 on the iTunes chart! I am so, so thrilled for her. It’s crazy to think that the same person I used to help sell merchandise for is now taking the world by storm – but I’m not at all surprised, because she is super talented and deserves every bit of this success. Her story is one that constantly serves as an encouragement to me. After working so hard at her dreams for thirteen years, after refusing to give up on herself and choosing to keep fighting and keep believing, those dreams are finally her reality. You’d better believe I use her story as an inspiration to keep writing my own!

What I’m Marveling At: Earlier this month, I had my ten year college reunion. I honestly can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s been a decade. It was so nice to be back on campus again for the evening and to spend time with some of my favorite AUers — proof that, even though so many things change, so many others stay the same.

What I’m Wishing For: My heart is positively yearning to be at the shore. We always go for a week in June, but it didn’t work out this year — probably the time we needed it most, after the six months we’ve had, but hey, what can you do? My fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to make it down there for a little bit at the end of the summer, at least. I miss it fiercely and would do just about anything to feel the ocean air kissing my cheeks again.

What I’m Loving: This little guy right here. I adore my sweet jellybean. He’s my love bun and my furry best friend. Adopting him is the best thing I’ve ever done, and I am so grateful for the wonderful Luv-N-Bunns people it’s brought into my life. It’s a joy to work with them and to play even a small role in helping the bunnies.

Now tell me … what have you been up to lately?!

Best Books, 2014.


“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”
~Neil Gaiman

It’s time for one of my favorite annual posts — my “best of books” for 2014! I always look forward to compiling this list each December. There’s something special about having the chance to reflect back on all the stories that have touched my heart over the past twelve months, the characters and anecdotes that have resonated far beyond their pages. It’s proof, I think, that each book holds a world of possibility and a twinkle of magic somewhere inside its spine — and inside its words. And so, without further ado, here are some of my favorites from this year:

The Baker's DaughterMemoirs of an Imaginary FriendYou Knew Me When

Catching AirYes PleaseThe Longest Ride

The Baker’s Daughter – Sarah McCoy: I’ve written about this book before, so you already know how much I adore it. Even though I read this story back in April, I’m being completely honest when I tell you that it still runs through my mind often. Reba and Elsie, they are the kind of characters you root for. The kind of characters you care about. The kind of characters that inspire you. I have a soft spot for books that feature a dual narrative, and it was such a joy to hear not only about Reba’s and Elsie’s individual journeys – in present-day Texas and WWII era Germany, respectively – but also about the one they forged together after Reba visits Elsie’s German Bakery to interview its owner. The lessons she learns are profound, and the feelings this beautiful story evokes are the kind that positively fill you up as a reader.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend – Matthew Dicks: I was absolutely captivated by this book. It is so special, so clever, so tender and enlightening and poignant. It’s different from the type of story I normally read, but oh my gosh, you guys, I couldn’t put it down for anything. I sped through it faster than any other book this year, because I simply had to know what happened next for sweet, creative, brave little Max and his imaginary friend Budo. Watching them both come into their own, seeing them grow and spread their wings … it’s a gift for the reader. This might be a story about a child, but when you look at the world through his eyes – and through the eyes of the imaginary friend who pushes him to have more courage than he even thought possible – I promise, you’ll learn a lot about your own world, too.

You Knew Me When – Emily Liebert: This book has been on my to-read list for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally dove into its pages this year. I truly loved every word. This is a story about life and love, but mostly it’s a story about friendship. Getting to watch as Katherine and Laney’s friendship grows – they meet when Katherine moves two doors down from Laney as an eleven-year-old – and then dissolves when a massive roadblock wedges its way into the journey of their sisterhood, it is a treat. Emily does such a lovely job of writing about both the past and present, and tying them together in meaningful ways. I was rooting for Katherine and Laney from start to finish, and I adored the presence of the neighbor who lived between them. Luella was an important part of the girls’ past, and I love that, even though she’s passed away, she gave them one final gift — a hope for their future.

Catching Air – Sarah Pekkanen: For those of you who have been reading my blog over the years, it’ll come as no surprise that Sarah’s on this list. She is every year, because her books are the kind that take us directly into her characters’ homes … hopes … hearts. This story is one of my favorites of all of hers. It’s such fun to join Kira, Peter, Alyssa, and Rand as they open a B&B in Vermont — to see them not only navigate the ups-and-downs of this new business venture, but also the ups-and-downs of their personal lives, including the possibility of adding not one, but two little heartbeats into the fold. And then there’s Dawn, the woman who seeks shelter in their bed and breakfast. These characters are so real, so true. One of my favorite things about Sarah’s books is that they invite you in and let you experience their magic. That’s exactly what happened here, and it left me feeling inspired to catch some air of my own.

Yes Please – Amy Poehler: This is, hands down, one of my favorite memoirs I’ve ever read. Amy’s book is full of humor and wit, but also grace and intelligence. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had six different passages bookmarked within the first two chapters. Hearing about Amy’s life, about her plethora of amazing experiences, was so cool, but what I loved most was her insight into the writing world and her advice on saying “yes, please” to a life full of inspiration. She is strong, she is determined, she is confident … but she’s also not afraid to admit when she’s wrong, to acknowledge that there will always be so much more to learn. I listened to her words of wisdom in the audiobook version, and if you guys like those at all, I highly recommend it. Amy narrates the book herself, and there are some special extras thrown in, too. It adds another dimension, because not only is Amy a wonderful writer, but also a fabulous storyteller.

The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks: Would you believe this was my first Nicholas Sparks novel? It won’t be my last, though! This is another dual perspective book, the story alternating between Ira – an elderly man who has gotten into a car accident and is relying on a lifetime of memories with his dear wife Ruth to keep him holding on – and Luke and Sophia, the couple who find his car off the side of the road. Ira’s sections, in particular, had me spellbound. What a fantastic character Nicholas created in him, and oh my gosh, what a heartwarming love story he had with Ruth. It’s the kind of bond that brings tears to your eyes. And when the two stories intertwine at the end? It’s in such a fitting, beautiful way. I’ve stayed away from Nicholas’ books in the past because I know they often have sad endings, but this one was different. There was hope woven through every page, love threaded through every word.

Okay, now it’s your turn: what are your favorite books of 2014?

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!

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?

Library Love.


“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.”
~Sidney Sheldon

Once upon a time, there was a library. Its white facade was plain, having been home to a church before becoming a passport to so many new worlds, and the inside was small. Walking in, the narrow hallway opened into a room where thousands of books were packed tightly into floor-to-ceiling shelves and a handful of employees bustled around behind the cramped check-out desk. Upstairs was a conference room of sorts, where certificates and prizes would be handed out for participants in the summer reading challenge, and downstairs … downstairs was a little slice of heaven, right here on earth. Bookcases surrounding the perimeter, bookcases running the length of the room, bookcases overflowing with stories about animals, about middle schoolers, about mystery, about magic. Hurrying down the wooden steps to the kids’ room, my smile would stretch from ear-to-ear and my heart would beat with an added thump, already doing a pitter-patter for all the journeys just waiting for me.

That library is where I met Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Where I went along with the Babysitters Club on all their adventures. Where I learned about guinea pigs before our family welcomed Nibbles, the cutest long haired abyssinian, into our lives. Where I laughed and learned with friends during community nights and the annual carnival. Where I went on a field trip with my fifth grade class to help clean the books before they were transferred to a new, bigger building across the street. Where I fell in love with the sights, sounds, smells, touches – and, most of all, the pure joys – of reading.

It’s been nineteen years now since our local library moved to a new facility. It’s a lovely place, open and airy, calm and relaxing, inspiring and encouraging. When you walk in the front doors now, it’s a wide space. The checkout desk is large and circular, the children’s section is at least twice as big, and there are rows of computers to accompany the shelves of books. There’s a bottom level, where a youth group often meets, and several rooms for events, guest speakers, and more. The ceilings are high, the views from the windows are wonderful, and the chairs are so comfortable you could curl up in one for hours as you get lost in a story. Truly, it’s a fabulous place. But I still miss the old homey one, even after all this time. I miss the arts and crafts days, where we’d make things like makeshift stained glass jars, and sitting in the back while my sister attended story time with the warm, kind librarian whose love for reading emanated clear from her soul. I miss easing books from the shelves and scampering back up the stairs with a towering stack teetering in my arms. And yet, even as I lose myself in nostalgia for what used to be, I’m grateful for what is, for the fact that, even in today’s fast-paced and technology-oriented society, there are still libraries where we can lose ourselves in the worlds. In the words.

Big or small, new or old, the chance to let our imaginations fly free like that is a blessing. I hope we always take advantage of it.

Lately.


“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.”
~Henry Miller

Lately, I have:

* Finished the first – and most major – round of edits on WATERCOLORS. Actually, let’s say that again and add in some more excitement. As of yesterday, the second draft of this book is officially complete!! Whoohoo!! The story is 16,000 words shorter, but as is so often the case with writing, it’s also reminded me that less can be more. The revision process has been entirely different this time around. Instead of my finger taking up permanent residence on the ‘delete’ key, I’ve actually gotten to add a good amount to the manuscript. Before I started, it was a bit daunting. I knew there were so many things to change, so many things to rewrite or rework, and I wasn’t sure how to approach the task. But once I sat back down at my desk and opened the Word document? It was instant adrenaline and excitement. For the first time, I can honestly say that editing has been a totally joy-filled experience. It was such fun to watch the story grow – even as it shrunk – before my eyes. Being unsure about some points as I drafted was tough. Knowing how I wanted to strengthen them during revisions was inspiring. We always say that each writing journey is unique, and this was such a great lesson in that. Never would I have thought that I’d enjoy editing more than drafting – and maybe this will be the only time it happens – but I am grateful for taking another path this time, because it’s helped me see new things.

* Spent the day in NYC with a wonderful group of friends, including my kindred spirit in writing. Words can’t express how much I was looking forward to this day, and even though it went by way too quickly, I had a blast. There’s nothing quite like getting to spend time with people in person when you normally have to rely on the phone, computer, and mailbox for contact. Times Square, Mister Softee, Rockefeller Plaza, Simon & Schuster (because it’s a rule that if writing sparked your friendship, you must take a picture outside that building), Vynl (coolest restaurant, fyi, if you’re ever in Manhattan), and Junior’s for the best dessert … it was fun not because of what we did, but because of who we shared the experience with. I wish I could rewind time and do it all over again!

* Read my first Nicholas Sparks book. I know, I know, what rock have I been living under all these years? Actually, it’s been a deliberate choice to stay away from his novels, because I know they normally have sad endings and I tend to look for happier ones in my reading choices, but a friend recommended THE LONGEST RIDE, so I gave it a try. I am so glad, too, because I loved it. Yes, it was sad, but in a touching way. I loved the characters and the stories, especially the one primarily set in the past, and still find myself thinking about them, even days after finishing.

What have you guys been doing lately?

Reading List.


“A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”
~Carl Sagan

Well … hello there. Sorry, friends, I didn’t mean to drop off the face of the (blogging) earth. I started edits on WATERCOLORS two and a half weeks ago and have pretty much fallen down the rabbit hole of Revision Land. After (happily) spending four hours on each chapter, the last thing my eyes (and neck … and back … and head …) want is to stare at the computer screen for much longer, so I’ve been stepping away from the laptop as much as possible. The goal is to finish this first round of revisions by the middle of June, so I’ll be back to more regular posting then, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share some thoughts about a few amazing books I’ve read lately.

THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER, by Sarah McCoy: 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. This is a story about Reba and her fiance Riki. About Elsie and her family, both those in Germany and those in America. About Reba and Elsie and Jane together. With alternating perspectives – the book flips between present and past, showing us the heart of who Reba and Elsie are – it offers an insightful, educational, inspiring, enlightening view. I found myself thinking about these characters, especially Elsie, so often, 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. I learned a lot about WWII in both regular school and Hebrew school, but this added another dimension. It left a handprint on my heart, on my thoughts, and will stay with me for a very, very long time to come.

CATCHING AIR, by Sarah Pekkanen: You guys know this already, because I’ve talked about it time and again on here, but Sarah’s books are among my very favorites. So when I won an ARC of her new novel, you’d better believe I was super excited. As usual, she’s crafted a story that takes us directly into her characters’ hearts … homes … hopes. When Kira and Peter Danner accept his brother Rand’s offer to move to Vermont and run a B&B with him and his wife Alyssa, they don’t know what they’re in for – and for people who crave security, that is, to say the least, a leap of faith. The same is true for Alyssa and Rand, whose lives are forever changed by tiny miracles that blossom into the greatest blessings, and for Dawn, a woman who finds herself on the run as she desperately tries to flee the past that could put her entire future in jeopardy. Watching their lives intersect, seeing them pull apart and come together, is both entertaining and emotional. One of the things I enjoy most about Sarah’s writing is her ability to make readers feel like they’re right there in the pages, experiencing the story instead of simply reading it. Alyssa’s first ultrasound … Kira finding peace with the man whose absence left a hole in her heart … Dawn learning to stand up for herself … all five of them coming together to throw the wedding of the year at their B&B … I didn’t just see those scenes. I felt them, too, and I was inspired. Because this story? It helps readers catch some air of our own.

FANGIRL, by Rainbow Rowell: I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about this book for so long. Everyone I know who’s read it has loved the story, and now you can count me in among those singing its praises. Like I mentioned, I actually rediscovered my passion for creative writing because of fanfiction, so from page one, I very much related to Cath. Her love of writing, her immersion in the story, her dedication to the emotion it brings out and the emotion she brings to the characters … it was like sitting in a warm patch of sunshine. There are such lovely insights into the writing life in this book, into its joys and frustrations, its heart and soul, and I had so much fun going along on the journey with Cath. Loved her, loved Levi, loved the way their relationship blossoms. I think what I loved most, though, is that the characters in this book are normal. They’re everyday people going about their everyday lives, trying to navigate the world just like all of us. They could be any of us. How awesome is that? Just like Cath is a fangirl of Simon Snow, I am one for this story.

Your turn: tell me what you’re currently reading!

A Confessionary Tale.


“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I confess that: although I’ve been working feverishly on WATERCOLORS and have been looking forward to some downtime for the past few weeks, now that the first draft is officially finished (!) and I’m not at my writing desk this morning, I already miss my characters.

I confess that: I didn’t think I’d be much of an audiobook person, but thanks to an awesome app for the iPod, I’ve become a huge fan and now love listening to books as much as reading them.

I confess that: I’m super disappointed today, because instead of visiting my friend and her sweet daughters, I’m stuck at home with what seems to be the beginning of a sinus infection. Really bad timing, body.

I confess that: I’ve become totally addicted to Shark Tank this season and would happily watch it all day if possible.

I confess that: everything else fell by the wayside when I was in my must-finish-this-draft frenzy, so now my non-writing to-do list is about seventeen miles long.

I confess that: I check the long-range weather forecast every morning, hoping to finally see some 70s, and am crossing my fingers because it looks like Friday might be the time.

I confess that: I click on over to my inbox way too many times per day.

I confess that: Rita’s Water Ice has only been open for a month and a half and I’ve already been there five times. Oops?

I confess that: I recently bought myself a new beaded bracelet from Emme Rylan’s etsy shop and an awesome purple purse. Because sometimes we have to treat ourselves, right?

I confess that: I’m jealous of everyone going to Washington DC this week, since last year’s Cherry Blossom Festival didn’t actually have many blossoms.

Your turn! What do you confess?

Porcelain Keys.


“You need to cut yourself open and hand over your heart. You’re not just displaying talent, you’re showcasing your soul.”
~Nathaniel Borough, via Sarah Beard in Porcelain Keys

porcelainkeys

Can I tell you guys how excited I was to receive an ARC of this fabulous novel by Sarah Beard? It’s a story I’ve been looking forward to reading for quite awhile, and oh my gosh, it didn’t disappoint. It did, however, do many other things: it warmed my heart, it made me cry, it reached into my soul and tugged at every emotion possible. There is something very special about this book and its characters. When I wasn’t reading about them? I was thinking about their lives, about their brightest dreams and rawest fears, about their unbelievable tenacity and inspiring strength. Even now, after I’ve finished the book, I still find myself going back to Aria, Thomas, and the whole cast. This is a story that truly resonates well beyond its pages.

When Aria lost her mother, she lost a part of her heart. And when the grief turned her father into someone she didn’t recognize? Aria lost a whole lot more. Shut out from the world she once loved, a world where music flowed freely and her passion for playing the piano was both understood and nurtured, the notes in Aria’s life have dimmed. It isn’t until she meets Thomas, the grandson of the man who once lived next door, that a new melody starts to hum. In Thomas, Aria finds an escape, a light, a faith for the future. From the very first scene they share, their connection is palpable. It’s a love story that draws you in from the beginning, the kind that pulls you into the pages and has you rooting for the characters a hundred and ten percent. But this book is more than a love story. It’s one of happiness and heartbreak, of grief and healing, of forgiveness and redemption, of falling down and finding the courage inside yourself to stand back up.

With a musical backdrop – like her mother, Aria is an accomplished pianist who dreams of attending Julliard – it’s almost as though the reader can actually hear the tale unfolding. Sarah paints a beautiful, three-dimensional picture with her words that made me feel like I was right there with Aria, whether she was fleeing through an orchard in Colorado, performing on a vast stage in Europe, or seeking shelter in a treehouse that, both literally and figuratively, gave her a glimpse of the most glittering stars. And it didn’t stop there, because the supporting cast is just as dynamic. Aria’s piano teacher Nathaniel, her neighbor Vivian, her college boyfriend Devin – they are all wonderful in their own way, and it was fascinating to see how each played an important role in shaping her life. Then, of course, there’s Thomas. Thomas, who seals the cracks in Aria’s heart, but also chips some new ones at the same time. Thomas, who has haunting secrets of his own. Thomas and Aria both, who remind us that it’s okay to have scars – because maybe, just maybe, they’re proof of how far we’ve come and how far we can go.

And now … I’m really excited to be able to offer a giveaway for an eBook copy (via Amazon) of PORCELAIN KEYS. To enter, leave a comment – by Tuesday March 4th – telling me: if you could play any musical instrument, what would it be? Good luck!