Better.


“A new year is like a blank book. The pen is in your hands. It is your chance to write a beautiful story for yourself.”
~Unknown

Show of hands: who thought I’d dropped off the face of the earth, or, at least, the blogging community? I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you did. I’ll be honest, the longer I went without posting, the tougher it seemed to get back into the swing of things. This space has always been an outlet, though, a place to celebrate the good and work through the bad, and so I don’t think I could ever leave it, not fully. I’d miss it, and all of you, too much. And so here I am again, after more than four months.

Most of you know that 2015 was a difficult, trying year for my family and me. Things were rough in many different ways, ways that left me feeling drained and defeated. In fact, if I had to sum up the year in one word, it would be: exhausting. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, it was just so very long and tiring. Much as I wanted to write in here, it often felt like there was nothing to say. I try, really try quite hard, to be an optimistic person, but sometimes life gets in the way, you know? Eventually it got to a point where I saw those roadblocks for what they were, and to rehash them in writing … truly, the thought seemed to zap the energy straight out of me.

Now that it’s 2016? I’m determined to embrace the fresh start, to do everything in my power to ensure that the pages of this year’s calendar are filled with much brighter colors than last year’s. Maybe that will happen, maybe it won’t. After all, flipping from December to January doesn’t actually change any of the words that wrote themselves in the past. My hope, though, is that I can add to those words now, to weave some hope and happiness back in. To that end, I’ve been thinking about what resolutions to make for this year, and I came up with … none. Deliberately, consciously, purposely, I’m making no concrete resolutions. I’ve found that, while they’re a wonderful motivator, they can also be the opposite when they don’t hold up, when you work tirelessly to make them a reality and it still doesn’t happen. Instead, I’m going to throw all my energy into doing what I can do make 2016 better than 2015. I am going to look for at least one bright spot in every day, even when the light seems dim. I’m going to keep on doing what it takes to get my book babies out there, even when the journey feels like climbing an endless mountain. I’m going to keep spending countless hours of time with my sweet and spunky Jasper Jellybean, even when it means sacrificing some of my to-do list (and some of my sleep). I’m going to work on accepting what I can’t control, even when those things seem so incredibly unfair. Mostly, though, I’m going to give this year everything I’ve got and pray that when it reciprocates, it will be with good things this time.

No resolutions, but those are my goals. My wishes. My must-haves.

How about you guys? What’s your must-have this year? And, again, thanks for sticking with me. Friends like you made a bad year better, and I’m so lucky to have your support. Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2016 – may it be filled with all the joy of a bunny’s binky and every one of your dreams come true!

Piece by Piece.


“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
~John Wooden

It has been a week now since I started revisions on my book. I’ve gone through six chapters so far and have deleted just over three thousand words. That seems pretty good, right? Three thousand words from sixty pages is nothing to sneeze at, especially because I’ve also been adding in quite a few sections as I go along. But it’s not on par with where my deletion totals have been for the past couple novels – instead of cutting a thousand words per day, it’s usually been around half of that. It shouldn’t bother me. I know this. I know that each story is different, each creative process is different, each experience is different. That’s a good thing. It’d be awfully boring, wouldn’t it, if they were all the same? I think it’s hard not to compare, though. We’re constantly doing it, and, perhaps, constantly reminding ourselves not to do it. At least, I am.

And yet … I’ve still been eyeing my daily word count and stacking it up against previous ones. Until today. Because today, I realized something. It’s okay that there hasn’t been as much to trim from the edges of this story so far. There will be those wordy passages in the future, the scenes I can chop and the characters I can erase (yes … I am actually completely getting rid of at least one, perhaps two, and no, surprisingly this doesn’t make me nearly as sad as I thought it would, because I know it’s best for the story). With some books, I delete entire pages at once. With this one, I’m still spending hours on each chapter, but I seem to be mostly pulling from each individual sentence. I’m slimming it down piece by piece, one word at a time. I’m okay with that now – because, really, isn’t that often how our lives go? We create the foundation brick by brick. Each word written, each photo taken, each canvas painted, each application submitted … this is how we get from where we are to where we want to be. Dreams are real, and so are passions, but they’re built on hard work and the willingness to throw ourselves into the details with all the attention that we would give to the big and shiny main goal. Maybe that goal isn’t one huge thing, after all. Maybe, instead of a giant hot air balloon floating high above, it’s a hundred regular balloons with their strings dangling right in front of us. I’m content to grab them, one by one. I’d like to hold each of them in my hand for awhile before letting them soar into the limitless sky.

Piece by piece. That’s how we arrange the building blocks of our lives. That’s how everything grows. Sometimes the pieces are tiny. Sometimes they’re big. Sometimes they’re neat and symmetrical, sometimes they’re messy and uneven. But as long as each one is a part of us, I think that’s what matters most. We’re all a puzzle, right? Just like books have so many elements that come together to tell a story, we have so many elements that come together to tell our stories. It’s easy to forget that. So easy. Maybe even too easy.

So as I continue revising this book chapter by chapter, I’ll remember that. I’ll do my best to soak up every part of the journey and to give it the attention it deserves. This book will get there, and so will I … piece by piece.

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?!

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.

DSC05937

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?

A Confessionary Tale, Part 2.


“All art is a confession.”
~Gaston Lachaise

I confess that: I’ve been meaning to write a new blog post for weeks now, but life just kept on getting in the way. The stress of December and January doesn’t seem to want to let up now that it’s February (erm, make that almost March — how did that happen?!), but I’m hoping things will calm down soon so I can get back to writing here on a regular basis.

I confess that: I’m spending most of my free time these days with Jasper. After another stasis episode last weekend – even though everyone was so hopeful that the dental work would fix the issue – I really thought I was going to totally lose it. There doesn’t seem to be an answer for why this keeps happening, and that drives me crazy, because all I want is for my little guy to feel good always. Fingers crossed that was the last time he has to deal with GI stasis, ever.

I confess that: I was all set to start drafting my new book this week, but that it got put on hold for next week instead. Between a snowstorm and several nights of sleeping on the sofa, waking up every couple hours to check on the bun bun, I knew it wasn’t the right time to jump into a new story adventure. I want my head and heart to be fully in it, because I am so excited about this project. I’ve spent the past month planning out Melina and Bradley’s story – figured out last Friday that there’s actually a mystery involved! – and can’t wait to hang out in their world. It’s one of politics and patriotism, and I think it’s going to be so fun to explore.

I confess that: I like the snow, but I am getting supremely tired of the ridiculous cold weather we’ve had this winter. It’s so freezing that it literally hurts. The predicted wind chill this morning was -32. That is just not cool (well, actually, it’s downright frigid, but you know what I mean).

I confess that: I would love nothing more right now than to be at the shore. Even if it’s only for a day, even if all I can do is sit in a room and look outside … I am craving the thought of being seaside. Since that’s not possible, I look at pictures instead and pretend that I can hear the waves as they gently tumble against the coastline.

I confess that: I have been counting down the days until Madam Secretary returns on March 1st. It has quickly become one of my absolute favorite shows, and I’m so glad it was renewed for a second season! That show is actually part of why I decided to go with my politics book next, out of my whole list of choices, because it just makes me so excited to write about that unique atmosphere.

I confess that: I took a chance on buying nail polish at the dollar store (to say money is tight right now would be an understatement, and it was a brand I’d heard of before, so I figured it was worth a try) and really regret it. It stained my nails so badly that I had to put on two coats of another polish to cover it up, and you can still see the other color poking through in spots. Guess I’m going to have teal tinted nails for quite awhile. Lesson learned.

I confess that: I check my email way too many times throughout the day. You’d think that querying would be less anxiety-inducing after all these years, but nope. My heart still skips a beat whenever that inbox updates.

I confess that: I wish there was a switch to shut off my brain sometimes. It is constantly whirling, spinning, tumbling these days, and it’d be so nice to just zone out for a bit. I can’t wait for the weather to get warmer so I can start going for long walks again, because that’s my time to just let it be … to just let myself be.

I confess that: I’m kind of tempted to go to Rita’s Water Ice for their seasonal opening today, even though it’s currently 16 degrees out. Since I don’t want to freeze my insides, I think I’ll stay home and go for some hot cocoa instead.

Your turn! What do you confess?

Let It Out.

“Do it with passion or not at all.”
~Anonymous

It has been a tough few weeks.

Anyone who knows me knows that I always try my best to be optimistic, to search for the ray of light in the darkness and the glimmer of positivity hidden amidst the challenges. But this past month or so … it has been one thing after another. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you know that one of those things has been my sweet bunny boy. GI stasis is a relatively common issue in rabbits – basically, they develop a blockage that prevents their digestive tract from functioning properly – and if not caught quickly, it can have dire consequences. So when, right before our family Hanukkah party, I noticed that Jasper was just kind of moping around and refusing to eat anything, even his favorite foods, I leapt into action. It was a Sunday, which meant his regular vet was closed, so off to the emergency vet we rushed, my poor little guy huddled in his carrier and his Ma terrified beyond belief. And when the doctor confirmed my suspicions? I nearly lost it. I did lose it when the vet tech got ready to take Jasper back to be admitted. He’d have to stay at least overnight, maybe longer, and I was a ball of nerves – fright and sadness and anxiety all rolled into one. The tech was kind enough to wait a minute so I could say goodbye to Jasper for the night, and, well … I sobbed. Huge tears. Crocodile tears. Tears that gushed down my face and inside my coat. I literally could not control it. It was so bad that the tech actually left the carrier with me on the exam table while she searched the room for tissues to give me. In the moment, I didn’t care. My only focus was on Jasper. On the drive home, though, I thought about how ridiculous I must have looked, bawling my eyes out like that in front of a stranger. But when I went back to visit Jasper the next day, the tech couldn’t have been sweeter. And I realized something: showing such deep emotion isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It’s the opposite.

Despite me watching him practically 24/7 and doing everything in my power to take care of him, my Jaspy unfortunately had another stasis episode last weekend, and, again, I melted down while trying to get him into his carrier to go back to the vet. This time, though, I made no apologies. I was less of a mess when dropping him off, but only because I knew what to expect this time and inherently trusted that he’d get the same wonderful care. He’s home again now, thank goodness, he has been since Monday, and I’ve adjusted his diet and bought a fancy new brush called the Furminator (because that’s one of the causes of stasis, when the bunny ingests too much fur while grooming, which is what the vet thinks happened with my boy) to hopefully avoid him ever having to go through this again. Knowing he was in pain broke my heart. Having to leave him temporarily shattered me. How could I not have cried? That bunny hopped his way into my world and I never looked back. I love him more than words can say, and so, even though I felt like a fool after that first breakdown, I also understand it. We cry, we smile, we cheer, we sing and dance and clap (all of which I’ve done since Jasper has been home, because I am just so thrilled and relieved to see him back to his energetic, mischievous, binkying self) because we care. We should never censor that. Caring is a good thing. A wonderful thing.

That got me thinking: the same is true for writing. I talk so much on here about how querying is a roller-coaster ride, but in actuality, the climbs and drops begin way before that. From the very moment I crack open a fresh journal to start planning a new book, my heart is in it completely. I become invested in my characters and their stories. When they hurt, I hurt. When they make bad choices, I feel for them. And when they triumph over the odds, I swell with pride. Sometimes, when the words don’t flow easily or the plot seems to smack against a brick wall, I get so frustrated. I want to scream, or flip the lid of my laptop closed, or reach into the screen and ask the characters for help. That’s the thing about writing: it is full of highs and lows. They are tied together, a delicate balance we perhaps don’t even realize we’re weaving, and it’s probably impossible to have one without the other. But, again, I’m really coming to learn that this is actually a positive. That I feel so much because I adore these book babies. One of my favorite things about writing is watching a character grow. I love when they put their hearts on the line, when they stand up for what they believe in and fight to make their own luck. I love when their emotions flow from their souls to mine. So why shouldn’t I love it when the opposite happens?

I’m not going to be apologetic anymore for wearing my heart on my sleeve. Sometimes we all need to keep things inside, but letting it out is so cathartic. I needed to cry when my Jaspy boy was sick. I needed to get frustrated with my last book, because that pushed me to rework it, to revise it four times, and to be truly proud of the finished version. I’m starting to plan a new novel next week – more on that soon! – and, I know, I will need to get emotional over that story, just as I have with all those that came before it.

I will let my feelings show, and I’ll be okay with that. But hey, Universe? I’ll also be okay with you chilling out now. Sometimes peace and happiness are awesome emotions to feel, too.

Enough is Enough.

“Sometimes the key to making progress is to recognize how to take that very first step. Then you start your journey. You hope for the best and you stick with it: day in, day out. Even if you’re tired, even if you want to walk away, you don’t. Because you are a pioneer. But nobody ever said it’d be easy.”
~Grey’s Anatomy

Enough is enough.

It’s a statement of strength, a declaration of clarity. Enough is enough; I’m putting my foot down. Enough is enough; I’m taking control of my destiny. Enough is enough; I’m choosing to travel down another path.

Those thoughts have all floated through my mind multiple times since I dove head-first into the querying process almost five years ago. Five years. That’s a long time, friends. It’s a long time to ride the roller-coaster, your hopes soaring sky-high as the cart inches up and then plummeting back down to the ground as you enter the steep drop. It’s a long time to put your work out there, your babies out there, your heart and soul out there, knowing full well that it’s making you vulnerable in such an emotional way. And there have been wonderful moments, to be sure. There have been requests that etched a perma-smile on my face and feedback, both from agents and loved ones, that filled me up with pure joy. But there have also been not-so-wonderful moments. There have been form rejections and no responses at all. There have been emails that made me want to curl up under the covers and hide away from the world. There have been tears. Lots of tears, more than I’d like to admit. So many times, I’ve been tempted to give up. Enough is enough. Something you love so deeply shouldn’t, in turn, bring about all this hurt. It’s not right. It’s like Eden, my most recent MC, says: “Sometimes inspiration doesn’t matter. Sometimes we can wish with all our hearts, work day in and day out to create the lives we yearn for, and still, it doesn’t happen. Reality isn’t like a song, or a book, or a movie, and happily-ever-after doesn’t always exist. When we realize that, maybe it’s best not to push it. Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole just ends up chipping off its corners.”

That’s where I was on Friday, after a particularly heart-wrenching week in the querying world, and, to a point, where I still am now. It’s where I’ve been before. And, I know, it’s where I’ll be again. Because even though I sat myself down on Friday and really, truly considered giving up, that just isn’t a possibility. When I think of not jumping into all the stories still on my to-write list, it makes me so sad. When I think of abandoning the characters who have already become such a part of me, it leaves me feeling empty. When I think of a life without writing … honestly, it’s unimaginable. Literally, I can’t fathom it. So I remind myself this:

If I’d given up after the first rejection, I’d never have gotten a partial or full request. If I’d given up after the first book queried, I’d never have written five others. If I’d given up after it felt like the publishing part was draining the happiness from the writing part, I’d never have gotten to work on the project that filled me with pure, unadulterated passion and delight. If I’d given up when a draft was particularly challenging, I’d never have seen how rewarding the revision process can be. If I’d given up after the form rejections, I’d never have gotten the ones that, even though they were ultimately a “no,” still made my heart sing. If I’d given up all those times, I’d never be the writer, and person, I am today. And if I give up now? Who knows what I’ll miss out on?

Despite the countless hours of work, I’m not where I want to be yet. Not by a long shot. There’s so much more I want to do, and I feel limited a lot. I can’t share my stories with everyone yet. I can’t invite the real world into my characters’ worlds. I can’t call myself a published author. I can’t buy extravagant or expensive holiday gifts, because devoting so much time to making this writing dream a reality doesn’t exactly help my bank account. I can’t donate to all the charities I want to, and I can’t adopt more than one bunny, because I just can’t afford the added expense right now. I can’t.

Enough is enough. And that’s okay.

Because maybe I can’t do it all, but I can do something. I can’t rescue all the bunnies, but I can give Jasper a warm, good home where he feels safe and loved after a life that didn’t start out that way. I couldn’t write a large check for Giving Tuesday last week, but I could donate a small amount to three of my favorite charities. I can’t fix all the horrible things that have been in the news lately, but I can make myself aware and educated. I can’t get my book babies out there yet, but I can share them with a smaller circle and let their feedback be what I focus on, what I let buoy me up when it feels like I might drown. I can do what I can, with what I have, and I can recognize that, for now, that’s alright. All we can do is our best. All we can try is our hardest. That’s enough. We’re enough. It’s tough to believe that sometimes, especially when it feels like the world is telling us otherwise, but I’m going to try. I’m going to try really, really hard. I hope you all will, too.

Because sometimes enough truly is enough.

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?

No Worries.


“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
~Epictetus

By nature, I am a worrywart. I check to make sure the oven’s off before going to bed each night. I’ve never flown on an airplane – so many things about it terrify me – and probably never will. I look in my rearview mirror quite frequently while driving and still remember the way, thirteen years ago, my driving teacher actually covered it with her hand so I’d stop. I get concerned when people are late to arrive somewhere. And WebMD? It’s my worst enemy.

Know what doesn’t make me anxious, though? Writing. Editing. Losing myself in the words, in the magic. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, as I query SOT. So many things about the querying process are frustrating, or disappointing, or just plain tough. I have a separate email account for everything writing-related, and I won’t lie, my heart likely skips a beat whenever the number in that inbox updates. Querying is not for the faint of spirit, that’s for sure. I’ve been doing it for a long time now, and I like to think I’ve learned something – lots of things, even. But still, it takes a lot. And maybe it should, because the best things in life, they’re worth fighting for. They’re worth the nerves and the wondering and the worrying.

Sometimes, though, we have to forget about the next step in the journey. About the things out of our control, whether that’s our dreams or our careers or whatever else is waiting out there in the wide, uncertain world. And when I need to do that? I turn to reading, or music, or the outdoors, or, most often, writing. I jump into my characters’ stories and am reminded all over again why I do this. Why I love this. Why I need this. Do I want to be published? Of course. But more than that, I want the joy, the excitement, the invigoration of sitting down at my desk and knowing I’m about to go on a journey with these people who travel from my imagination to the page. Writing lets me explore. It lets me play. It lets me believe in fairy tales and goodness and light. There is truly nothing like it. When I’m writing, it’s like my heart grows wings. It chases away the worries. It lets me be my freest and truest self. When my family went through the excruciating month-long horror of losing Gram? I escaped into my writing. When I was searching for a way to work through the pain of losing all my grandparents? A way to heal? My characters taught me how. And just a few months ago, when I spent a terribly long week waiting for an MRI and worrying about what could be wrong? WATERCOLORS helped me through.

Writing can be difficult. It should be difficult sometimes, because that’s when we find opportunities to push ourselves. But it can also be beautiful. It can also be magical. It can also be a safe place to let go of everything else and just be. In spite of everything else, maybe even because of everything else, I am so grateful for that. When it comes to writing, I have no worries.

And isn’t that the way it should be?