Tuesday’s Tunes: KC & M5 Edition.

“Just wait, everything will be okay
Even when you’re feeling like it’s going down in flames.
People like us, we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever.”
~Kelly Clarkson, “People Like Us”

Remember that time when I said editing is fun? Yeah … I must’ve lost my marbles or something. As of today, I’ve finished twenty-eight out of thirty-five chapters, so the (temporary) finish line is in sight, and oh my goodness, am I ready for a break. There are a few longer chapters towards the end of the book, and in the interest of trying to preserve my eyesight and prevent too many headaches, I’ve been splitting them up into two days’ worth of work instead of one. That means revising on the weekends, too. That means only giving myself one day off over the span of three weeks. That means living and breathing this novel and these characters. It also means not wanting to do much of anything on the computer after I’m finished editing each day, including blogging. So, while I’m hanging out in Revision Land, please enjoy some of my favorite Kelly Clarkson videos. I’m going to her concert with Maroon 5 tomorrow (hence the one day off on Thursday, since it’ll be a late night) and can’t wait to sing, dance, and jump along to the music. What better way to take a break from work?

Breakaway (2004) :

My Life Would Suck Without You (2009) :

Stronger (2011) :

People Like Us (2013) :

And one of my favorite Maroon 5 songs:


What’s your go-to tune for when you need to have a dance party? Favorite KC song? Favorite Maroon 5 song?



“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.


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?

Popping In.

“You find me here alone,
I hear a voice that’s so unknown.
It strikes courage up my backbone,
Strength in my heart.”
~Angie Miller, “You Set Me Free”

Wow, it’s been forever and a day since I last posted anything, hasn’t it? Full blame goes to my WIP, which has me so immersed in its pages that I’ve now forgotten to eat breakfast not once, but twice, this week … oops? With only seven and a half chapters left to write I’m finding it harder and harder to pry myself away from my desk. To say I’m excited about what’s ahead for my characters is the understatement of the century. Then there’s the fact that when I get to the home stretch of a first draft everything else usually falls by the wayside. It’s just challenging to remove myself from the story’s world for very long. Even when I’m not actively working, I still find my thoughts wandering back to the book. I wanted to pop in and say hi, though, and figured I’d share a few things currently capturing my attention when I’m not hanging out with Remi and Charlotte.

What I’m Reading: I was lucky enough to win an ARC of Claire Cook’s TIME FLIES from Goodreads and am thoroughly enjoying it. Normally I back off from reading as I write the final chapters of a manuscript – I like to stay in my own characters’ heads and not get to know others – but I’m squeezing in a couple chapters each day since this story is so fun. A main character who’s terrified of driving on highways? Let’s just say I can most definitely relate.

What I’m Watching: Anyone else a Dancing with the Stars fan? I’ve been rooting for Ingo Rademacher and Kellie Picker all season long and was thrilled for Kellie when she won the mirrorball trophy last night. Her dancing is lovely and her personality is contagious. She just makes you want to smile! How about American Idol? Anyone see the finale last week? Angie and Candice were my favorites from way back in the audition rounds. This is the first time since Carrie Underwood that one of my top picks actually won!

What I’m Listening To: Going along with the Idol theme, I pretty much haven’t been able to get Angie’s version of “Try” out of my head since she sang it on the show two weeks ago. I’ve also been loving the studio version of her self-penned single “You Set Me Free.” There’s something really special about that song. She’s going to be a big hit in the music scene, I can just tell.

Your turn: what are you reading, watching, and listening to right now?

Tuesday’s Tunes: There Will Be An Answer.

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be.”
~Brooke White singing the Beatles’ “Let It Be”

Last week was … honestly, I don’t think any single word can do justice to it. Heartbreaking. Terrifying. Horrifying. Shocking. Numbing. To say that the city of Boston and everyone affected by the heartache is in our collective thoughts and prayers is an understatement. And yet, amidst all the tragedy, we also saw inspiration – in the first responders, in the police departments, in all the people who rushed to help, in all the heroes. They deserve our endless gratitude and appreciation. Again, no single word can do them justice. Brave. Selfless. Dedicated. Compassionate. Uplifting. Perhaps their heroism is best reflected in song. Perhaps that’s where we find the words, the melody, the chords of optimism. Perhaps it’s idealistic to continue hoping for a peaceful world, a world where community and love win, but I truly believe that’s the answer.

Brooke White – “Let It Be”:

Teresa Castillo and Jason Thompson – “You’re Not Alone”:

Kelly Clarkson – “The Sun Will Rise”:

Let’s keep reaching out. Let’s keep joining together so nobody is alone and everybody sees that the sun can indeed rise. Let’s … let it be.

Tuesday’s Tunes: in my characters’ eyes.

“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am.”
~Sara Ramirez, “The Story”

Those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen a giddy post last week about inadvertently stumbling upon the most perfect song for one of my characters. I’m not kidding … it’s like the lyrics were written specifically for Charlotte. I was taking a walk when the song came up on my iPod, and I literally just stopped there, right in the middle of the sidewalk, to listen. It was an awesome few minutes. As the melody swirled in my ears, I could imagine different scenes from Charlotte’s life playing out with each verse, each chorus, each note. Hands down, it’s in my Top Ten of coolest moments I’ve ever experienced as a writer. And so, of course, I have to share that song with you:

And for the other of my new main characters, Remi:

I don’t listen to music while I write – silence is golden when it comes to getting into my characters’ minds – but I often play a song for inspiration before or after. You better believe that these two will be heading up the playlist for my WIP. Love, love, love.

Catching My Breath.

“Catch my breath
No one can hold me back
I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath
Won’t let em get me down
It’s all so simple now.”
~Kelly Clarkson, “Catch My Breath.”

Sometimes I think Kelly Clarkson can actually see inside my brain. What other explanation is there for how ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY her new song coincided with my week off from work? Catching my breath, letting it go? Laughing hard with the windows down? Leaving footprints all over town? Keeping faith karma comes around? I mean, really … MINDREADER. And can we talk about how awesome this song is? Kelly wrote it about her journey since winning Idol – what she’s learned, who she’s become, where she’s going. It debuted last Wednesday and, no exaggeration, it has literally been stuck in my head ever since. Not that I’m complaining, because it’s one of my favorites of hers (yes, already). You should all do yourselves a favor and listen:

So, how have I been catching my breath during my break from edits?

There was a visit to the Franklin Institute.

Pendulum staircase!

Only I would take a picture “with” my heart murmur…

LOVE this quote.

Ancient bird in the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit … they are STILL following me.

And a hot chocolate/pumpkin-buying spree.

Decorating my desk for the season!

A Sofie pumpkin and an Ellie pumpkin … it’s completely normal to name things after your characters, right? :)

And a lovely day spent at Arcadia for Alumni and Homecoming Weekend.

Mom and me.

Soccer field, library, and the new (beautiful!) building on campus.

I wish this had been there when I was a student!

Murphy Hall, Room 108 … AKA my home away from home for four years.

The castle will always be my favorite part!

So pretty inside.

Can you imagine living here?

Hangin’ out with a knight.

Fireworks over the castle!

It looked like Christmas lights were dancing in the sky!

And a great concert!

Graham Colton!

After the show!

Always enjoy Graham’s shows and his wonderful music!

There has also been lots (L-O-T-S) of cleaning and reading. And, now that I’ve had a week to rejuvenate and refuel, I am ready – and excited – to jump into the second round of revisions tomorrow. I’m looking forward to tightening up the story even more and getting to visit with my book-babies again. Because, as Kelly sings, it’s always important to make time for “the ones who count.”

Idol Tour 2012.

Pretty sure I’ve been the world’s worst blogger lately – forget about forty-eight hour days, somebody needs to figure out a way for there to be seventy-two instead – and since I’m currently looking at an empty suitcase (oops), I’m afraid that’s not going to change today. My schedule got a bit thrown off when I woke up yesterday with fever. Aches and chills? Not good anytime, let alone two days before you’re leaving for vacation and right before you have plans to attend a concert. Advil seems to have done its job, though, and thankfully the fever has been gone since last evening. A slight cold seems to have taken its place, which is still a bummer since we’re leaving tomorrow, but I’ll take that over the alternative any day of the week. ANYWAY, the point to my ramblings is that, yet again, this post is basically a bunch of pictures. I promise: things will get back to normal around here soon! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the snapshots from last night’s American Idol tour, one of the best in years! Everyone was fantastic, even better than on the show, and they were all so sweet when we met them afterwards.

Heejun! He made me smile every week on the show – such a fun-loving, endearing person!

Elise was my favorite this year, and her voice was CRAZY GOOD in person. Bonus points to her for being so gracious, kind, and friendly at the M&G afterwards!

Erika! She’s so bubbly and genuine!

Okay … off to tackle my packing. My next post will be written from an oceanside balcony. WhooHoo!

Disappearing Act.

“Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin.'”
~Kelly Clarkson, singing LeAnn Womack’s”I Hope You Dance”

(AKA: What I’ve Been Up To Lately)

It feels like forever and a day since I’ve posted, but until someone invents a way for there to be forty-eight hours in a day, there’s just never going to be enough time to get everything done. I’ve been in Editing Overdrive lately, trying to do as much work on MTL as possible before we leave for vacation next week, and that hasn’t left much time for blogging. But RevisionLand hasn’t been the only thing keeping me occupied.

There’s been reading:

Kelly concert-going, where she chose “I Hope You Dance” – which just so happened to be my high school graduation song back in 2001 – for her fan request:

Celebrating the beautiful wedding of a lovely couple!

And, of course, lots of time spent in front of the computer, reliving my characters’ journey as I tighten up their story:

19,000 words down; 31,000 to go. I think I can, I think I can…

For Good.

“If you want to do something, do it. Start, like I have. Like she has. Like many of you have. Leave your mark. Leave your mark on this world. We just don’t know what a smile can do, what a buck can do, giving of your time, all of it.”
~Kristin Chenoweth

An equation to describe last night:

Academy of Music + banana split waffles + Kristin Chenoweth + great friends + Broadway + country + “Shalom” + goosebumps + Mother Nature’s craziness + inspiration = Priceless.

Ready to head to the Academy of Music!

My attempt at being a food blogger ;-)

I have been looking forward to Kristin’s concert in Philly ever since buying the tickets at the beginning of March. Actually, scratch that – I’ve been looking forward to it ever since first hearing about the tour. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time, and not only because she has a voice that can give anyone chills. Not only because she has a talent for acting that allows her to jump seamlessly into any role and make it believable. Of course those things are awesome, and I will readily admit that several songs from her newest album occupy top slots on my iTunes “most played” list. But beyond the music, and the acting, and the dancing, there is such an inspirational person with a heart of gold. She encourages us all to “do somethin’ that matters.” To change the world for good. To, as she said last night, “leave your mark.” Through her example and her music, she certainly leaves one of her own. And – this may sound silly, but that’s okay – ever since I heard her song “Borrowed Angels” last September, I’ve just felt so grateful to her. Truly, the beautiful lyrics and her emotional interpretation of them was one of the only things to bring comfort after the heartache of losing Gram. The song made me cry. The song made me stop everything and listen. The song made me feel. The song helped me heal.

Kristin and the Avenue Q puppets

And so, as you might imagine, it was a joy to be at her concert. Not only did she perform a mix of classics, Broadway, disco, her album songs, and various covers, but she interspersed skits, videos, and touching tributes, as well. She talked about her love for Philly, how she “knows the difference between WaWa and 7-11,” her career path and mentors, the shoes that fill her closet, and so much more. There were hilarious moments (actually, most of her commentary could fall under this category – talk about quick-witted!) and moving moments. There was her “Shalom” and “Oy Vey” – made this Jewish gal smile! – and her heartfelt reminder that art can change the world, that people can change the world, that you never know when something as simple as a smile will resonate deeply. And through it all, during a show that ran the gamut from laugh-out-loud hysterical to goosebump-inducing inspirational, Kristin was just … Kristin. She reminded us all that we should wish on a star, but also go out there and make our own luck.

Singing “Popular” in four different languages. SO COOL.

Where luck didn’t come into play? Mother Nature. As in, the tornado watches and warnings issued while the concert was playing on. As in, the trickling off of rain after the show was over, luring us into a false sense of security as we waited by the stage door for Kristin to sign autographs. As in, the downpours that started forty-five minutes later, sending people dashing down the sidewalk for cover. Seriously, it was like a combination of a monsoon and a cyclone. Umbrellas didn’t just blow inside-out. They blew upside-down and backwards, to the point that I was becoming concerned about actually being tossed into the next block. The parking garage was across the street, so only a couple minutes’ walk (run? sprint? slosh?), but man, it felt like hours. By the time we were finally undercover, we literally looked like we’d jumped into a swimming pool in our clothes. I don’t even want to talk about my new fabric shoes that I was wearing for the first time. Sigh. But safety comes first, and although it was disappointing not to be able to talk to Kristin – I so wanted to tell her how much her song helped me through such a dreadful time – I’m just glad we made it home okay. Drenched and shivering, but okay. And you know, after the fact, it’s even sort of funny. Sort of. Ha.

Before the deluge started…


Weather aside, it was a truly special night. Kristin closing the show with my favorite song of hers, “I Was Here,” is something I’ll never forget. Finally hearing her sing “For Good” live is something I’ll never forget. Her responses to me on Twitter (one on Thursday night and another just an hour ago – SO. VERY. COOL.) are something I’ll never forget. Much the same as with authors, with writing, with sharing stories, I think that’s the mark of an incredible singing talent – that she too is able to share stories and hope through her lyrics, her voice, and her soul. Something to never forget … and always remember.