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?

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All in the Numbers, Part Two.


“When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.”
~W.E.B. Du Bois

6: the number showing our current windchill, which, believe it or not, is actually an improvement over some of the temperatures we’ve seen here lately. Between the frigid digits and the snowfall practically every other day, I think it’s safe to say everyone is counting down to spring. Fifty-two days, y’all!

46,440: the number of words in WATERCOLORS, my WIP, which has been such an interesting and eye-opening journey since day one. I’m going to write a separate post about this soon, but for now I’ll just say: it’s amazing how every book truly is an entirely different experience. Eden’s keeping me on my toes, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes me next.

9: the number of days until Kristin Chenoweth’s concert and M&G. I can’t wait to have a chance to talk with her and am already considering the notecard option (like I did with Kelly), so I don’t forget anything. To say I’m ridiculously excited for this opportunity is an understatement.

26: the number of books I’m hoping to dive into this year, although if my to-read list is any indication, it should really be double that amount. So many stories, not enough hours in the day.

4,812,692: the number of times I check my inbox daily. Kidding. Sort of. This querying business is a good reminder that patience is indeed a virtue.

What numbers are defining your weekend?

Best Books, 2013.


“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
~Confucius

This is the fourth year I’ve written a “best of books” post, and each time, I somehow manage to look forward to compiling it even more. It’s always such fun to think back on the stories I’ve read over the past twelve months, the characters I’ve met and the worlds I’ve been introduced to along the way. Each one is like its own present, just waiting for its treasures to be unwrapped. And how great is it that we can learn something new, something wonderful, something magical from the pages we dive into so eagerly? Pretty darn great. Pretty darn amazing.

Okay, so here we go. My favorite reads of 2013 are:

The Theory of OppositesThe Best of UsEleanor & Park

Why Can't I Be YouCatching FireThe Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service

The Theory of Opposites – Allison Winn Scotch: I’ve written about this book before, so you already know how much I adore it. The story is inspiring, the cast is captivating, and the journey you go on with the characters is one that’ll have you reflecting on your own. Her whole life, main character Willa has felt trapped within the shadow of her father’s umbrella and frozen into inertia by his insistence that free will always falls victim to fate. Until she loses her job, her husband proposes they take a two-month break, her twelve-year-old nephew moves in, and her best friend dares her to swim upstream for perhaps the first time in her life by taking every single one of her instincts and doing the opposite. Willa’s quest to challenge her beliefs and change her life will leave you wanting to fly free right along with her. What’s next? Anything. Everything.

The Best of Us – Sarah Pekkanen: Sarah’s books are always a treat, and this one is no exception. With a memorable group of characters – a group of college friends who reunite to celebrate a thirty-fifth birthday at a private villa in Jamaica – and the ominous foreshadowing of a hurricane that’s set its eye on the island, it’s a story that not only intrigues, but also keeps you on the edge of your seat. Tina, Allie, Savannah, and Dwight … they are all different as night and day, as the shells you’d find among the sand, and yet there’s a common thread woven among them. There’s a friendship that’s evolved since their collegiate days and takes on a whole new meaning as they ride out the hurricane. But even more important than braving the storm? Braving each other.

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell: For months now, I’ve been hearing people rave about Rainbow’s books, and I certainly understand why. There’s a gentleness to her writing style, even when the storyline itself is painful. For high school students Eleanor and Park, life is about music. About exploration. About good triumphing over evil. About each other. Theirs is a tale about first love and its magic. Eleanor’s home life is difficult, to say the least, and as Park becomes her salvation, you can’t help but fall for their love story. Characters like these make you believe again. I was rooting for them a hundred percent, and though some of the supporting cast had me wanting to slap some sense into them, that was, of course, the point – and just makes Eleanor and Park’s dedication to one another all the sweeter.

Why Can’t I Be You – Allie Larkin: Have you ever wished you could be someone else, even for a day? What about forever? Lonely and a little lost, when main character Jenny hears somebody calling for her across a hotel lobby, she answers – even though the name bursting through the air is actually Jessie. Despite her best intentions to tell the truth, Jenny lets herself fall into Jessie’s life. She fits in with her friends. She fits in with her hometown. She fits in with this new world. Even as she weaves a web of deceit, you can’t help hoping for Jenny to find her happily-ever-after … to create that happily-ever-after. Because, even though being Jessie teaches her a lot, Jenny’s journey is really about recognizing her truest self.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins: This one is actually a re-read, since I wanted to refresh my memory before seeing the movie version earlier this month. What can I say about this book? It’s my favorite from the trilogy, striking a perfect balance between action and emotion, and although I already knew what happened, I still found myself unable to stop reading. Katniss is the kind of heroine you can’t help admiring: fearless, dedicated, brave, and strong. She has heart. Peeta has heart. Even some of their fellow victors have heart. They create a team in the unlikeliest of circumstances and remind us that sometimes it’s better to stand together than fall apart. If we can remember that … well, then the odds will be in our favor.

The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service – Beth Kendrick: Lara is a matchmaker extraordinaire — except, instead of setting up her clients on a date, she finds them the perfect furry soulmate. Add that to her day job as a dog trainer, and her love for the canine species is pretty clear. But her boyfriend’s? Not so much. When their fight over one of Lara’s dogs escalates and she finds herself without a boyfriend – and without a home – she must work to pull her world back together. As she moves into her mother’s gated community and becomes a Dog Whisperer of sorts to the other residents, you can’t help smiling at the antics of the hilarious supporting cast. And when Lara finally realizes what a short leash she’s been clipping herself to? You’ll be cheering for her all the way.

Tell me: what are your favorite books of 2013?

The Theory of Opposites.


“Get lost. Then get found. Closing your eyes really just means closing a door. Never close a door when you have the chance to leave it open.”
~Willa Chandler, via Allison Winn Scotch in The Theory of Opposites

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile then you probably know that Allison Winn Scotch is one of my must-buy authors. Not only have I enjoyed every book I’ve read of hers, but she’s one of the kindest people out there. She has a blog that’s a treasure trove for writers, she makes herself accessible and open to readers, and now she’s blazing a new path as she ventures into the world of self-publishing with her new novel THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES.

This book … please do yourself a favor and buy it. Immediately. Not only is it my favorite of Allison’s, but it’s one of my favorites ever. It is just that good, guys. The characters burst out of the pages and settle themselves in your heart from the very first page, and then they refuse to leave … even when you’re not reading … even when you’re actively doing something else … even when you’ve finished the book. I can’t tell you how many times I’d be taking a walk, or watching tv, or whatever, and this colorful cast would pop into my mind. I thought about them, I wondered about them, I was proud of them, I learned from them, I was inspired by them. Truly.

Main character Willa has been contained within the umbrella of her father’s shadow for her whole life. His bestselling book tells readers that everything happens for a reason, that free will always loses to fate, that “what will be, will be.” Don’t bother to swim upstream, because the downward current won’t let it happen. Willa’s trapped into inertia by her father’s beliefs. Until her ex-boyfriend friends her on Facebook. And her husband suggests they take a two-month break. And her twelve-year-old nephew Nicky moves in for the summer. And her best friend Vanessa dares her to change her life, to take every one of her instincts and do the opposite.

What follows is the journey of a lifetime for Willa. Watching her learn to follow her heart, seeing her find the courage of her convictions, traveling along as she digs deep and lets herself change her destiny, one step at a time … it makes for a wonderfully inspiring story. I found myself rooting not only for Willa the whole way, but also the rest of the lovable cast of characters. Vanessa is the kind of best friend we all wish for, one who pushes us and fights for us. Theo is a unique spin on a pillar of support, there for Willa but still giving her the space she needs to figure things out on her own. Raina and Ollie, Willa’s siblings, make you smile and laugh. And Nicky … he just might be one of my favorite characters in any book I’ve ever read. He’s warmth and wisdom and chutzpah.

It’s rare that a book makes me misty-eyed, but this one did. When Willa finally finds the strength to be herself, when her world blossoms from pastel to technicolor … well, I won’t ruin the ending, but suffice it to say it’s an awesome scene. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this idea – that sometimes we feel like being ourselves isn’t good enough, that sometimes there are people in our lives who make us feel that way through their actions (or inactions). But there are others who boost us up. Who love us just the way we are. Don’t we owe it to our hearts to love ourselves the same way? I think, above all, that’s what I took from this book: to fly free, to leap even when we’re afraid of falling, to embrace who we are and to deliberately swim upstream … because who knows what currents we can create?

What …


“Everybody’s reaching for something
Every day pulling and tugging
Always wanting a little more …”
~Melinda Doolittle, “Give”

What I’m listening to: Remember when I wrote about Melinda Doolittle’s fabulous and inspiring new song? Well, this past Tuesday she released an equally fabulous and inspiring EP. It’s called YOU’RE THE REASON and is full of wisdom-filled lyrics, beautiful melodies, and Melinda’s powerfully resonating voice. I love it so much and am learning something new from the tracks each time I listen.

What I’m watching: Anyone else a fan of Shark Tank on ABC? I find the premise absolutely fascinating and am always so intrigued by the products people create. There are so many reality shows out there, but this one is unique and – pardon the pun – inventive. And can we talk about Grey’s Anatomy for a minute? HUGE kudos to the amazing Sara Ramirez for last night’s Callie-centric episode. Talk about talented.

What I’m reading: Actually, this should probably be entitled “What I’m immersed in to the neglect of everything else.” Seriously. Allison Winn Scotch’s new novel, THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES, came out on Tuesday, and oh my gosh, you guys, it is excellent. I’m three-quarters of the way through and will write a full review when I’ve finished reading, but for now I’ll just say that it’s already made me laugh out loud, already made me nod my head in agreement, already made me think and reflect and feel.

What I’m writing: I moved on to character sketches for my new book this week and am truly having such a blast getting to know everyone. So far I’ve hung out (that sounds weird, huh, talking about characters like they’re real?) with Eden, her future best friend Serena, and her love interest Wilson. I’m growing more and more excited about them, about their stories, about the journey we’ll all go on together. There’s still some planning to do, but I can’t wait to start drafting in a couple weeks.

What I’m smiling about: A sweet new bundle of baby joy for a friend, a good report from my biennial cardiology appointment (for my heart murmur), a burst of (relative) warmth sandwiched in between the cold weather of late fall, and some wonderfully invigorating chats with some equally wonderful writing friends.

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!

Five.


“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.”
~W. Earl Hall

The always awesome Megan tagged me for the “five things that make you happy meme,” so I figured I’d take a break from the writewritewritewrite frenzy to share some of what’s currently putting a smile on my face.

1. My WIP: Okay, so maybe this isn’t much of a break from it after all. It’s certainly no secret how much I’ve adored writing this book. In fact, you’re all probably getting quite tired of hearing me blab on and on about it. Don’t worry. There’s only three chapters to go, so after next week you won’t be subjected to my incessant ramblings. It’s just … I can’t necessarily explain it, but there’s something about this project that has instilled a permanent ‘writer’s high’ in me. I work on it until my eyes scream and my head aches, and then I keep thinking about the characters even when I’ve left the computer behind. Something about this story is resonating with me in a way that transcends words. Will it do the same for anyone else? Who knows? Even if it doesn’t, this will forever be a writing experience filled with joy.

2. The prospect of sand, sea, boardwalk, and books: After spending the past four months writing about both Nantucket and Atlantic City, I can’t wait to escape to the shore for a few days later this month. It will forever be my happy place, and I’m counting down until the moment when I’m sitting on the beach with a book in hand and the sound of tumbling waves whispering in my ear.

3. The weather: After a cool and damp start to the season, followed by a spike in temperatures to something more reminiscent of August, springtime has finally set up shop here in Pennsylvania. Yesterday could not have been more beautiful: cloudless cornflower blue sky, temperatures in the mid-70s, and air that smelled sweet as honeysuckle. Today promises to be a repeat and I can’t wait to get outside for another long walk to the pond. This picture is from April, so the trees are much fuller now … and while the view of the water isn’t as clear, that makes it more special to see the spray arcing up into the air, soaring skywards like a beacon of hope.

Pond

4. ‘Jessie’s Girl’: Pretty sure this song has been stuck in my head ever since Rick Springfield sang it on General Hospital during April’s Nurses’ Ball. It has one of those melodies that just worms its way into your thoughts and refuses to leave. Give it a listen and you too will be tapping your feet to the beat.

5. Water ice: How better to celebrate the warmer weather? Icy foods have sometimes been challenging to eat since I began using Invisalign back in January, but I always make an exception for this. With a Rita’s just minutes away – offering flavors such as fudge brownie, red velvet cake, and s’mores – how can I not?

Your turn: what’s one thing making you happy this week?

Road Trip.


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
~St. Augustine

I mentioned last week that, even in the midst of my writing frenzy, I’ve been finding time each day to squeeze in a couple chapters of Claire Cook’s TIME FLIES. Not only do I relate to the main character’s fear of driving on highways (I am totally that person who will go an hour out of the way if it means avoiding the interstate) and love of anything shore-related, but I also adore the idea of two friends going on a road trip to their high school reunion. It reminds me of a road trip I took with my friend Sara back in 2009, a two-week journey full of sightseeing, disobedient GPS navigators, and, above all, wonderful memories. Nearly four years later, I still think about it often and it never fails to make me smile from ear-to-ear.

roadtrip

Charleston (WV), Nashville, Atlanta, Charleston (SC), Savannah, Charlotte, Charlottesville.

I’d never been farther south than Virginia prior to this trip, so getting to experience places in Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas was a treat. I fell in love with Atlanta within fifteen seconds of setting foot on its soil – so much so that I proceeded to set three novels in the city – and could have spent weeks soaking up the unique magic in Nashville. Within two weeks, we visited spots like the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Georgia Aquarium, CNN, Stone Mountain Park, the Kangaroo Conservation Center, Amicalola Falls, Rainbow Row, Folly Beach, Monticello, and UVA. We saw Music Row, walked through Centennial Olympic Park, ate cupcakes on the edge of a fountain, took a riverboat cruise, found the most fabulous little pancake house, drove along Blue Ridge Parkway and took in its breathtaking views, and more. We met up with friends, spending hours with some and days with others. We nearly got attacked by a snake at Magnolia Plantation, we fought with an automated ticketing machine that never worked, we circled the adorable town of Marietta forever looking for a place to watch July Fourth fireworks, we mispronounced the name of Demonbreun Street for an entire day until my friend Karly finally asked someone to help. We had an amazing, incredible, buoys-you-up-with-joy, unforgettable time.

And so I must thank Claire for inspiring another trip down memory lane. As Melanie and BJ travel along on their journey, I’ve been getting to relive mine. I’d love to visit the south again someday soon – I always say that if Atlanta wasn’t so far away, I’d move there in a heartbeat – and, similarly, I’d love to explore other parts of the country, too. One day … :)

Anyone else ever taken a road trip? Where did you go? What was your favorite part?

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?

The Best of Us.


“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
~Oscar Wilde

Know what I love? Book signings.

Really, what can better than gathering with an enthusiastic group of readers and celebrating the authors and stories that have brought us together? Everyone clutches a book in their hands or on their lap, fingers wrapped around a treasure trove of words, of stories, of inspiration, and then we get to hear from the person who made that very book come alive. It is sunshine for the writer’s soul.

Last night, I had the chance to attend an event with Sarah Pekkanen (who, if you’ve read my posts, you’ll know is one of my favorite authors), Jennifer Weiner, and Elizabeth LaBan. It was held in a lovely school, came complete with the most delicious (and huge!) cannolis, and featured a fabulous Q&A session. We heard from all three talented women – about their books, about their writing processes, about their journeys to publication, about their advice and anecdotes – and above all else, what struck me was the sense of unadulterated love for the craft of writing. Sarah, Jen, and Elizabeth exuded that love and so did everyone in the audience. My favorite comment of the evening came courtesy of Sarah, who talked about learning more through the writing than through the planning. I just … adore that. Yes, we can plan a novel. We can brainstorm, we can outline, we can research, we can plot timelines and turning points and milestones for our characters. And we should. We should know our stories like we know ourselves. But the real learning? The real journey? The real sense of who our characters are? How can we truly know that until we’re writing their tale? They have to tell us who they are. They have to show us. Sometimes – or, perhaps, often – that comes when we’re in the middle of a scene. One of the things I think is most special about writing is how the characters can surprise us. I’ve had people look at me strangely when I say that – “how can a character surprise you if you’re the one writing about them?” – but I honestly believe it’s true. Our characters lead the way. We’re there to help them along the path.

I had the chance to chat with Sarah for awhile afterwards, both about her awesome books (seriously, you guys … run, do not walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of all four of her novels … you won’t be able to put them down, they are that fantastic!) and about my publishing quest, and I will always be so thankful for her kind words and sincerity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the writing community, from those who are already published to those who aspire to and work towards that goal every day, is like no other. It’s warm, it’s welcoming, it’s wonderful. Sarah didn’t have to spend so long talking to me, but she did. She didn’t have to ask me about my own books, but she did. She didn’t have to say such encouraging things, but she did. Words can’t express my gratitude. She is truly a class act, gracious and genuine all the way.

Sarah and me

I left the event feeling so inspired. I couldn’t wait to sit down at my desk again this morning and continue writing (more about that in another post … I can’t even believe that I’m nearly two-thirds through this first draft!). That, to me, is what a book signing is all about. It takes the love, the joy, the pride we feel in writing and wraps them up in a neat package. Or maybe not. Maybe what it actually does is take those things and set them free into the world. And, again, I say: what can be better than that? Sarah’s new book is titled THE BEST OF US, and I think that’s a perfect way to sum up a book signing: it brings out the best in all of us.