Remember Me?


“Like a small boat on the ocean
Sending big waves into motion
Like how a single word can make a heart open
I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.”
~Rachel Platten, “Fight Song”

Well, well, well … hello there. Remember me? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. I think this just might be the longest I’ve gone without posting since I started this blog back in 2009. The universe hasn’t exactly been my friend as of late, and even though there were times when I really wanted to hang out in this space for awhile, other things took precedence. I do want to say thank you, though, to those of you who reached out — whether on here, through email, Twitter, text, etc — because your kindness was, and always is, so deeply appreciated. One of the things I adore most about writing is that it has such a cathartic quality to it, and truly, your sweet words have been like a hug for me. I’m so lucky to count you all among my friends.

Even though things have been rough lately, there have been some bright spots, too, so I thought I’d focus on those today. Because that’s what we have to do. We have to choose optimism and let our hope grow wings to lift us back up when it feels like we’re falling. One of the things keeping me afloat when everything seemed like it was going wrong? My new book. It’s been five weeks since I started drafting the story, and, one hundred pages in now, I’m so happy to say that I’m loving every minute of working on it. I’m trying out some different things this time – weaving in a mystery and writing half the story from a male’s perspective – but that’s just making it more of an adventure. Politics has been an interest of mine for a long time – I actually wanted to include political science as a major in college, but with two others, it just wasn’t feasible – and so I am having a blast incorporating that into this book, too. Experiencing that unique kind of life with Melina and Bradley, my main characters, has been eye-opening. Exciting. Enlightening. They both have very different approaches to politics, and to life in general, and that makes it such fun for me to hang out with them. It’s funny – every time I start a new novel, I feel like it will be impossible to grow as attached to the new characters as I did to all the previous ones. And then, every time, I’m proven wrong. I’m so looking forward to continuing on this journey with Melina and Bradley. They’ve already taken me by surprise quite a few times, and I can’t wait to see what other tricks they have up their sleeves.

Last weekend was also sunshine for the soul. On Saturday, I had the chance to see one of my favorite singers. Rachel Platten writes the kind of music that inspires. Encourages. Motivates. I always love her live performances, and this time was extra special. One of the songs in her setlist, Lone Ranger, is what I like to think of as Melina’s theme song in my book. The lyrics fit her so, so perfectly. And then there’s Fight Song, which Rachel wrote to get herself through a tough time. It’s her first single with Columbia Records, and I am thrilled it’s turning into a hit. The song deserves it. Rachel deserves it. Seriously, if you have a spare few minutes, go look it up and be inspired. I can’t even tell you guys how many times I’ve listened to it lately. It’s just what I’ve needed.

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Then, on Sunday, I met Genie Francis. GENIE FRANCIS. Anyone who’s ever watched General Hospital will understand my excitement at meeting such a true television icon. I’ve been looking forward to her fan event since last summer, and it absolutely exceeded every one of my expectations. Genie is so, so sweet – hands down, one of the kindest and most genuine celebrities I’ve ever met. She sat with us at our table for a good ten minutes, asking our names, shaking our hands, and talking about anything and everything – and even telling me at one point that I must have read her mind! It was such a wonderful experience that I’ll always treasure.

Genie

And, of course, there’s my Jasper Jellybean. This past Thursday marks six months since I adopted him, and I am thankful every day for the joy this furry little love has brought into my world. I truly can’t imagine life without him.

Jasper Jellybean

Okay, I think that’s it for now. I’m really going to try to check in here more often again. I miss it. I miss you all, too. Tell me: what’s been going on in your lives lately? What bright spots have you gotten to celebrate?

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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!

Show & Tell.


“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Ocean

One of my favorite parts of the three week break I took between finishing the first draft of WATERCOLORS earlier this month and starting its revisions today? A mini getaway to the shore. It may have been cool and windy, but still, there is no place like a coastal one. Home is where the ocean is (and dolphins, too, if you look closely on the left side of this picture!).

Cape May fountain

Maybe I’m just easily amused, but it never fails to make me smile when I stumble upon something that reminds me of my characters. When I found this fountain in Cape May, I not only tossed in a penny for myself, but also one for Eden. Here’s to wishes-come-true.

Ship

This ship off the shore of Cape May Point is made of concrete and sunk into the sea after being used during World War I. Apparently seagulls like to use it as a perching spot now?

Mom & Me

Proof that appearances can be deceiving: it looks like a warm spring day, right? You’d never guess that it was so cold we all sat on the beach with fall coats, hoods, and gloves. Ridiculous to plant ourselves there when the windchill was in the forties? Ridiculous that we’re even having windchills like that at the end of April? Sure, but like I always say … I’d rather be freezing at the shore than warm somewhere else.

Megan & Me

Have I ever told y’all about what reignited my passion for creative writing? What took me out of journalism’s sphere and brought me back into the circle that first illuminated my world when I was in eighth grade? In many ways, I will always be grateful to this woman for that. Megan Ward. She played Kate on General Hospital, and, from the first day she graced the screen, lit up the show with her acting prowess. Her character became half of one of my all-time favorite couples on the show and their beautiful love story inspired me to try my hand at fanfiction, which I’d never written before. It was, truly, like magic. I wrote thousands of pages over the following two and a half years and just felt myself fill up with this love, this joy, for creative writing. I didn’t even realize how much I’d missed it until I had it again. It’s been almost seven years now since that time, and I’ve penned six books. That’s crazy to me, but also crazily cool. So getting to visit with Megan again yesterday? Seeing her smile as she exclaimed “you made it!” to me? Talking with her for such a long time, thanking her for introducing me to incredible people who will be lifelong friends and for reigniting that writing spark? Hearing her quip that she wants to get credit in my book acknowledgements one day? Spending time with someone who treats us like friends, who was as genuinely happy to see us again as we were to see her? Knowing that she remembers me and still has the Walk of Fame gift my friend Amanda and I made her? It was beyond special. I talk a lot about how wonderful the General Hospital cast is, and they all are, but there are some that go the extra mile, go above and beyond, and Megan is one of them. She is a gem. I miss her on the show all the time and am so very grateful to have had the chance to see her this weekend. It’s a day I’ll always treasure.

Kari & Me

As an added bonus, I got to meet another actress who used to be on GH, Kari Wuhrer. She is also super sweet and lovely to chat with!

Now – give me a show or tell (or both!) about what’s going on with you lately!

Kristin’s Concert!


“I wanna do something that matters
Say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear.”
~Kristin Chenoweth, “I Was Here”

The first time I saw Kristin Chenoweth in concert, there was torrential rain and a tornado warning. This time? An ice storm that coated everything, sending trees and power lines crashing to the ground, and left something like 700,000 homes in the dark. Any of you who have seen my Twitter posts within the past week probably know how nervous I was about this. I’ve been looking forward to this for four months and was so worried Mother Nature would mess it up. When I was woken up at 4:00AM yesterday by buzzing transformers, crackling tree limbs, and freezing ice pellets hitting the house, I figured that was it. The concert would be cancelled. But it wasn’t. Kristin had gotten into town the night before, and once the ice finally stopped falling, temperatures crawled to a couple degrees above freezing and the road crews were able to really get to work on the roads. To say I was nervous about the drive there was an understatement – the venue is an hour and a half away on a good day – thankfully, though, with the exception of the roads in my township, which was hit really hard, most of the streets were dry by the time we set off. There were traffic lights out along the way and downed trees on the sides of several roads, but we got there safely (thanks to the awesome driving of my friend, because I probably would’ve had a panic attack if I had to navigate in such unknown conditions).

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Know what, though? It would have been worth it. The show was fabulous – partially the same as the one I saw in 2012, partially new material – and I loved every minute. From Broadway to country to everything in between, she sang with a voice that filled the entire 1600-seat theater. Her anecdotes had everyone laughing out loud and her heartfelt thank you and inspirational messages had us all smiling from ear-to-ear. My favorite songs were “For Good” and “Popular” (which she sang in three different languages!) from Wicked and “I Was Here” from her most recent album. That’s my favorite song of hers, period — both Remi’s anthem in SOT and one of my own in this writing journey, and it was so special to hear it live as the finale song, especially knowing I was going to be meeting her (!) in just a few short minutes.

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And speaking of meeting her … wow, where do I even begin? They took us backstage (literally – we got to walk across the stage and everything!) right after the show and Kristin bounced into the room almost immediately, talking about how excited she was to meet everyone. My friend and I were at the end of the M&G line, thankfully, which gave me time to (sort of) calm down and rehearse what I wanted to say. I was super nervous, but also so very excited – it reminded me a bit of the first time I met Kelly, when the whole thing just felt completely surreal. Standing two feet in front of her and finally getting to thank her for “Borrowed Angels,” which is the only thing that brought me comfort and peace after Gram passed away … honestly, there are no words for it. I started to explain and managed not to get choked up – until she interrupted in the middle of it to give me a hug. Then that was pretty much it. It’s a moment I’ll never forget, her hugging me and then standing there with her hand over her heart and talking about the power of music to heal. I said something about not being able to find the words to thank her and she said “You did. You just did.” Something about her tone, how touched she sounded, made it even more special. Then she offered to sign the CD I’d brought, even though she’d pre-signed sheet music for all of us, and after taking a picture, I had a little more time to chat with her about “I Was Here.” I told her a bit about how it’s so inspiring for me during my writing journey, how it helps me keep my head up and keep going, and again, she looked me intently in the eyes and said “If I can do it, you can do it. Keep going. Don’t stop.” I will always keep that in mind — not that I was planning to stop, of course, but hey, when Kristin Chenoweth tells you to persevere, you persevere. :)

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It’s always lovely to hear about celebrities who go above and beyond for their fans. Kristin thanked us all multiple times for “risking your lives to come see me,” and she even signed autographs for the people waiting by the stage door after the show and the scheduled meet and greets, even though it was frigid and icy out. Her songs are the kind that tell a story, that speak to you and move you, and I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to talk with her and realize, all over again, that Kristin as a person does those same things. She is kind, gracious, down-to-earth, and genuine. She’s the kind of person who truly does change lives for good.

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?

Playing Catch-Up.


“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”
~Andy Goldsworthy

So, um … it’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve written anything on here. Whoops. I’m not sure how that happened. For as quickly as time flies all year long, it seems to move along at warp speed during the holiday season. It was just Thanksgiving, and now I’m sitting here and looking out the window at today’s fresh snowfall glistening in the re-emerging sun. It is the prettiest kind of reminder that winter’s on its way and a lovely backdrop as I play some catch-up with y’all.

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After spending most of November planning out my new book, I was finally ready to jump into drafting last week! Not gonna lie, it felt immensely strange at first to be writing about characters other than Remi and Charlotte, but I’m almost 11,000 words into the book as of this morning and am having a blast with it now. My MC Eden is very different from anyone whose story I’ve told before, and I actually really love that. Her world is currently tumbling down around her, but what falls down can also rise up, and I’m excited to watch her rebuild, renew, and refresh her life. It’s going to be a fun journey to take. Beyond Eden, I’m quite giddy about the supporting cast: Eden’s grandmother Lillian (I have always wanted to write a grandma/granddaughter relationship), her soon-to-be best friend Serena, her parents Mariah and Joel, her love interest Wilson … it is an eclectic group in more ways than one, and I can’t wait to explore the dynamics further.

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Speaking of Remi, look what I got for Hanukkah! The keychain’s hard to make out in the picture, but it says “write your own story.” I love, love, love them both and am so happy to have a Nantucket shirt that’s straight off the island. If I can’t visit there yet, this is the next best thing.

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Totally worth braving Sunday’s snow (yep, it snowed Sunday … and today … and evidently again this coming Saturday) to finally see CATCHING FIRE. I was blown away by how wonderful it is. The acting, the sets, the soundtrack, the special effects … it was phenomenal from start to finish. I love that the movies stay so true to the books, and yet, at the same time, they’re easy to follow along with if you haven’t read the story (at least, it seems like they would be … can’t attest to that personally). This is my favorite of the books and now my favorite of the movies so far, too. Huge kudos to the whole cast for being so fabulous, especially Jennifer Lawrence. She is just crazy awesome.

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Also crazy awesome? Nancy Lee Grahn. It is always such a pleasure to visit with her when she holds her East Coast events every other year.

Your turn: tell me what’s been up with you guys lately!

Do you know?


“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.”
~Anonymous

– Know what’s annoying? Super-maddening-makes-you-want-to-scream-from-a-mountaintop annoying? Tinnitus. I woke up last Thursday with a constant ringing in my right ear, kind of like the fire alarm you’d hear in a school building, and it’s been playing its irritating tune ever since. It FINALLY shifted to a more muted, lower-pitched sound today – still frustrating, but at least it’s not driving me up a wall. Working, reading, and even sleeping (especially sleeping) have been a challenge, because when it’s quiet ALL I can hear is the noise, and it’s getting to the point where I’m actually looking forward to seeing an ENT specialist next week to find out what’s going on and how, fingers crossed, to make it stop.

– Know what’s exciting? Super-wonderful-makes-you-want-to-jump-up-and-down exciting? Getting a meet & greet with the fabulous Kristin Chenoweth. She’ll be here for a concert in February and I decided to splurge for the VIP package. It is very important to me – more important than I can explain, really – to express my appreciation to her for her song “Borrowed Angels.” It brought me such comfort after losing Gram back in 2011, such solace after an experience that shattered my family’s collective heart into smithereens, and I desperately want to thank her for that. I already know I’m going to cry, but they will be happy tears. Grateful ones.

– Know what’s addicting? Super-compulsive-makes-you-keep-repeating-it-even-though-it-won’t-change-anything addicting? Refreshing your inbox while querying. Watched pots really don’t ever boil, do they?

– Know what’s invigorating? Super-adrenaline-pumping-makes-you-want-to-imagine-all-the-magic-in-the-world invigorating? Starting to dream up a new book. I’ve had several (very general, still hazy in that whimsical way where they contain so much possibility) ideas floating around in my head since finishing SANDS OF TIME, but I haven’t been ready to focus on them yet. Getting SOT prepared to query was first on my priority list, and to be honest, I was still too swept up in Remi’s and Charlotte’s worlds to even consider jumping into a new one yet. But then Kaitlin suggested a storyline that instantly sent my mind ablaze, and I’m really looking forward to discovering where it will lead. I haven’t started to brainstorm or plan yet, but am hoping to in the next couple weeks. And the best part? Remi and Charlotte get to play a role. I adore tying former MCs into new stories. Something about it just feels special.

What’s currently annoying/exciting/addicting/invigorating in your life?

Wordless Wednesday: Lately.


“Listen to your whisper and let it be your guide.”
~Anonymous

M&G with General Hospital's Tyler Christopher and John J. York

M&G with General Hospital’s Tyler Christopher and John J. York!

"Sandy Castle" in Point Pleasant, to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief

“Sandy Castle” in Point Pleasant, to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief.

Such lovely weather to welcome fall!

Such a lovely start to fall!

Quack, quack, quack

Why hello there, friend.

My mom surprised me with a plaque that has the quote which inspired SOT.  Love, love, love.

My mom surprised me with a plaque that has the quote which inspired SOT. Love, love, love.

What’s up with y’all lately?

Plus and Minus.


“The desire to write grows with writing.”
~Desiderius Erasmuss

+ : We’ve had not one, not two, but three days of beautiful spring-like weather. After winter’s frigid digits, it has been both energizing and inspiring to feel the warm sunlight again. I don’t even care that temperatures are taking a plunge again for the rest of this week (okay … that’s a lie … I care at least a little …). Mother Nature gave us just enough of a spring fling to be satisfactory. I can wait a couple more weeks for it to be an everyday occurrence. In the meantime, I spent my weekend walking through the quaint Peddler’s Village, along the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, NJ, and around the block at home.

Peddler's Village

: The aforementioned boardwalk was cut much shorter than normal, still splintered from the effects of Hurricane Sandy last year. This was the first time I’d been to the shore since the storm set its eye on New Jersey, and to see the barricades, the boarded-up homes and businesses, the sand still in the streets, and the boardwalk blocked off in many spots … it was just very, very sad. I know the shore will rebuild its way into being better than ever, but until then, it hurts to see such a special place still rocked by waves that have long since retreated.

+ : Falling more and more in love with your WIP with each day you sit down to write is, truly, the best feeling ever. It’s always a good thing when you wake up on Monday morning, on every morning, eager to get back to work. Everything about this project has been joy-filled so far. In the midst of querying, it reminds me exactly why I write, exactly why I continue to pursue this, exactly why I can’t ever give up. I’ve written just over 23,000 words so far and am so legitimately excited about telling the rest of this story that I wish I could just glue myself to the desk chair and focus on nothing else. Other responsibilities, who needs ’em?

: Those other responsibilities beg to differ, as do my bleary eyes and needs-to-be-cracked-frequently neck. Oops?

+ : You should be really jealous of how I spent my Sunday morning this week, because it involves two of General Hospital’s sweetest, kindest, and funniest actors. Jason and Dominic were both gracious and genuine. They’re so down-to-earth and friendly, even coming over to suggest pictures to snap (true story: Jason only wanted me to take candid photos of my sister meeting Dominic!). My favorite moment? Telling them about Mine to Love – because GH recently had an adoption storyline, as well – and Jason calling after me as I was walking away, “Good Luck with your book!” So nice. Also … not the worst people to be between for a picture, huh? :)

JTandDZ

: Yeah, there isn’t really a corresponding ‘minus’ for this one, so instead I’ll just post some more pictures. Ha.

Jason

Dominic

Give me a plus or minus from your weekend/day/week!

All in the Numbers.


“Originality exists in every individual because each of us differs from the others. We are all primary numbers divisible only by ourselves.”
~Jean Guitton

10,458: the number of words currently in my WIP, which becomes more of a joy to write with every single day. I’m already discovering so many twists and turns to my characters’ personalities, already following their lead as they dictate where the story will spin. It’s an inspiring road to travel and an exciting journey to take.

24: the number of days until I’m in Washington DC for this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival. I’ve wanted to go for so long and can’t wait to see those beautiful umbrellas of pink petals in person. Fingers crossed that the trees will all be in bloom.

3: the number of times I’ve now had the chance to talk with General Hospital and Dancing with the Stars superstar Kelly Monaco. Her fan event on Sunday was one of my favorites I’ve ever attended, and I was, once again, totally impressed by her genuinely kind and gracious nature. From telling me that my eyes are the bluest she’s ever seen, to reminiscing about the 2005 Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade and saying how sweet it was that I remembered our visit there, to sitting and chatting with me – and everyone else – as though we were friends, she was nothing but a complete class act.

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54: the number of choice on today’s weather forecast. Perhaps spring is around the corner?

570: the number of words I wrote in twenty minutes this morning. Wednesday are my query days, my days to focus solely on sending MINE TO LOVE out to agents, but I woke up with a scene in my head and simply had to get it down before doing anything else. There is something so special about that flurry of furious typing, that whirlwind where your fingers can’t type quickly enough to keep up with your thoughts, and it completely made my day, all before 8:00AM. Writer’s high? For real, it’s the best ever.

What numbers are defining your day?