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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Wordless Wednesday: From My iPod.

“Always remember to fall asleep with a dream and wake up with a purpose.”
~Anonymous

Thank you all so very much for your support, encouragement, and sweet words on my last post. It’s appreciated more than I can say, and truly does help. You all are the best, and I <3 you — so much so, in fact, that I'm going to subject you to more bunny pictures. Hee. Apologies if you've already seen some of these on Instagram and Twitter. My furry BFF has taken over my iPod these days, but I do manage to snap a few other photos, too.

Hmm, maybe I'll give this writing thing a try. It always looks like fun when Ma does it. Perhaps a book series about a bunny?

Hmm, maybe I’ll give this writing thing a try. It always looks like fun when Ma does it. Perhaps a book series about a bunny?

Jasper's getting to be a pro at the selfie.

Jasper’s getting to be a pro at the selfie.

Who needs turkey on Thanksgiving when you can have hot chocolate instead?

Who needs turkey on Thanksgiving when you can have hot chocolate instead?

I got a Jamberry gift certificate for my birthday and ordered some awesome designs.    First time using it and I'm already in love.

I got a Jamberry gift certificate for my birthday and ordered some awesome designs. First time using it and I’m already in love.

Pondering the great, wide world.

Pondering the great, wide world.

It's always a joy to visit with Nancy. Of all the GH fan events, hers are among my very favorites.

It’s always a joy to visit with Nancy. Of all the GH fan events, hers are among my very favorites.

Music is power. Music is hope. Music is inspiration. Grateful for these songs which speak to my soul and remind it to keep on trying.

Music is power. Music is hope. Music is inspiration. Grateful for these songs which speak to my soul and remind it to keep on trying.

And a quick video, because what’s cuter than a bunny binky?

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!

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!

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?

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?

The Power of Storytelling.


“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”
~Ira Glass

Clearly, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a huge General Hospital fan. I’ve been watching the show for twelve years now, and have seen too many storylines to count. Some tugged at the heartstrings. Some motivated. Some made happy tears trickle down my face and some made sad tears blur my vision. Some brought laughter. Some were history-making. Some worked their way inside my mind and heart, and then did the very same thing for viewers everywhere. Some inspired. Some changed my life. Some made me feel. And now, as the show celebrates its golden anniversary with the first Nurses’ Ball – Port Charles’ biggest fundraiser that combines singing, dancing, love, drama, and charity – in over a decade, I find myself falling in love all over again. Today’s episode was so good that I immediately wanted to re-watch it. The performances were adorable, entertaining, and compelling (Favorite of the day = Kelly Monaco’s character Sam lighting up the dance floor with Maks from Dancing with the Stars – I still maintain that she was robbed during last year’s all-star season and should have gone home with the mirrorball trophy!). But beyond the talent sparkling on stage, there was also a fairy-tale unfolding behind-the-scenes. For months now, we’ve been seeing the love story between Patrick and Sabrina slowly come to fruition. Word by word, page by page, chapter by chapter, we’ve gotten a glimpse into Sabrina’s world as she fell head-over-heels for the handsome, kind-hearted doctor. When she confessed her feelings, only to learn that he’d never thought of her the same way? When her declaration made him realize that he’d missed what was right in front of him? And today, when they finally got their living-on-cloud-nine, give-you-butterflies moment? When Sabrina finally got her guy? I probably looked like the goofiest person ever, sitting there with my smile stretching from ear-to-ear. You’d think they’re my personal friends, I’m so happy for them. Obviously these characters aren’t real, and because this is a soap opera, it’s more likely than not that something (or someone) will rain on their parade, but for now, I don’t care. Sabrina is very much an “every girl.” We can relate to her. We know what it feels like to put our hearts on the line – sometimes internally, sometimes externally – and to see it pay off, to see her giddy sense of joy and elation, it made me giddy, too. Life is not a daytime drama. Life is not a fairy-tale. But stories like this give me hope.

Then there’s my WIP. I’m (approximately) forty-percent through the first draft right now, and the scene I wrote today is one I’ve been anticipating since the beginning. It was Charlotte’s big confession, her time to finally come clean about something major she’d been hiding. Excited as I was to write it, I was also nervous. That usually happens to me with these turning-point scenes. I just want them to carry the proper emotional weight, you know? To play out on the page like they do in my head. To do justice to the characters and their feelings. And so I sat for awhile before writing, just imagining what was to come. I felt the way Charlotte’s mouth would go sandpaper-dry, saw the way her fiance paced back and forth across their tiny apartment, heard her tearful explanations, smelled the wildflowers that tumbled from their pitcher as the door slammed and knocked it over. And then I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. Of course the scene will go through edits when I get to that part of the process, but I’m satisfied with it. More than that, better than that, I’m happy with it. From day one, this book has been a very different experience for me. It’s tough to put into words, really, other than to say it’s reminded me how joyful writing can be. Charlotte and Nolan may not be in as good of a place as Patrick and Sabrina right now – and as for my other main character, Remi, she’d currently laugh in the face of anyone who told her that fairy-tales can blossom in reality – but their story makes me just as giddy. Remi’s story makes me just as giddy. Charlotte and Remi’s story – because, although they’re separated by fifty-six years, this book is, at its heart, about the bonds they share – makes me giddy. It gives me hope.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post. I just felt compelled to share it after today’s storytelling experiences. One was as a writer, the other as a viewer, and both reminded me of the beauty in creativity. How wonderful it is to fall in love with fiction, to get lost in its embrace and inspired by its journey. How wonderful to find characters we can relate to and tales that inspire us. How wonderful it is, and how lucky we are, to experience this blessing every day, to live it with our full hearts and souls. And who knows? Maybe by finding joy in these fictional stories, we’ll be writing a part of our own, too.

Happy 50th, General Hospital!


“Daytime has been successful all these years because it caters to a very real need in the audience – to see something that’s not nighttime fantasy. People watch daytime because it’s like their lives.”
~Erika Slezak

GH collage

Happy 50th Anniversary, General Hospital! Thank you for the smiles, the laughter, the sunshine, the tears, the joy, the storylines that inspire and touch, the special and talented actors who make their fans feel like friends, and the truly amazing group of people I’ve met thanks to the show. Cannot imagine my life without them, and I owe it all to GH. I am so proud to be a fan of this tugs-at-your-heartstrings daytime drama and the incredible cast who breathes life and soul into their characters every day. Here’s to another fifty years of magic, stories, and memories!