Lately.


“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.”
~Henry Miller

Lately, I have:

* Finished the first – and most major – round of edits on WATERCOLORS. Actually, let’s say that again and add in some more excitement. As of yesterday, the second draft of this book is officially complete!! Whoohoo!! The story is 16,000 words shorter, but as is so often the case with writing, it’s also reminded me that less can be more. The revision process has been entirely different this time around. Instead of my finger taking up permanent residence on the ‘delete’ key, I’ve actually gotten to add a good amount to the manuscript. Before I started, it was a bit daunting. I knew there were so many things to change, so many things to rewrite or rework, and I wasn’t sure how to approach the task. But once I sat back down at my desk and opened the Word document? It was instant adrenaline and excitement. For the first time, I can honestly say that editing has been a totally joy-filled experience. It was such fun to watch the story grow – even as it shrunk – before my eyes. Being unsure about some points as I drafted was tough. Knowing how I wanted to strengthen them during revisions was inspiring. We always say that each writing journey is unique, and this was such a great lesson in that. Never would I have thought that I’d enjoy editing more than drafting – and maybe this will be the only time it happens – but I am grateful for taking another path this time, because it’s helped me see new things.

* Spent the day in NYC with a wonderful group of friends, including my kindred spirit in writing. Words can’t express how much I was looking forward to this day, and even though it went by way too quickly, I had a blast. There’s nothing quite like getting to spend time with people in person when you normally have to rely on the phone, computer, and mailbox for contact. Times Square, Mister Softee, Rockefeller Plaza, Simon & Schuster (because it’s a rule that if writing sparked your friendship, you must take a picture outside that building), Vynl (coolest restaurant, fyi, if you’re ever in Manhattan), and Junior’s for the best dessert … it was fun not because of what we did, but because of who we shared the experience with. I wish I could rewind time and do it all over again!

* Read my first Nicholas Sparks book. I know, I know, what rock have I been living under all these years? Actually, it’s been a deliberate choice to stay away from his novels, because I know they normally have sad endings and I tend to look for happier ones in my reading choices, but a friend recommended THE LONGEST RIDE, so I gave it a try. I am so glad, too, because I loved it. Yes, it was sad, but in a touching way. I loved the characters and the stories, especially the one primarily set in the past, and still find myself thinking about them, even days after finishing.

What have you guys been doing lately?

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“Scene” in NYC.


“Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book – and does.”
~Groucho Marx

Question for y’all: how many books have you read that are set in New York?

If you’re anything like me, the answer will be “a lot.” So many novels these days seem to take place in the city that never sleeps, and every time I visit Manhattan, I’m reminded of why. There’s an energy pulsing through it, a unique kind of adrenaline which excites. There are skyscrapers soaring up toward the clouds, courtyard cafes filled with delicacies and nestled among tiny gardens, office buildings overflowing with high-powered employees, tourists taking in the sights of a place that is truly a cross-section not only of America, but also of the world. There are bright lights and bright souls. And, to a writer, the city unfolds a plethora of opportunities. Everywhere you turn, there’s a story idea dangling in the air, just waiting for you to find it. There are publishing houses that motivate, waterfront views that inspire, and parks that provide the perfect spot to settle in with a journal and write, write, write. And, as I discovered this weekend, there’s even more.

There are views like this:

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

And this:

Times Square skyline at night

There’s the Museum of Natural History:

Clearly I had to take a picture with this.

And the restaurant I wrote about in one of my books:

Barolo in SoHo

In fact, there’s all of SoHo – my character Lily’s favorite place in Manhattan. Her heart beats for the Big Apple, especially this charming area that’s a juxtaposition of old against new, of traditional against modern.

LOVE the cobblestone streets!

Such unique and historic architecture.

I’d like to live here, please and thank you.

If you’ve read the SHOPAHOLIC series, you should recognize this store.

The SoHo Building.

There’s Central Park:

I’ve wanted to see the reservoir for years!

Pretty!

View from Belvedere Castle.

And Times Square:

M&M Store

Early morning shot.

Outside the GMA studios.

Robin Roberts

There are Red Velvet cupcakes from Crumbs:

SO. GOOD.

And great friends to share the experience:

Whoever invented the self-timer on cameras is a genius.

I’m still in the middle of MINE TO LOVE edits, and the next book I’m planning (yes … the next one … I like to think ahead) will be set somewhere along the coastline, but after that? I think it’s time for a character of mine to call Manhattan home. Or maybe not. Maybe that character will belong in a different city, or a quaint suburb, or a sleepy town. But whatever the case, I’ll continue to be inspired by those big lights. Because though New York may be a place where dreams are made, other spots can be, too. It’s about how we work for those dreams and how dedicated we are to them.

(That said – if the time ever comes when my books sell, I am totally celebrating with dinner at Barolo. One day …)

In a New York Minute.


“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
~Thomas Wolfe

It’s been a picture perfect spring so far when it comes to the weather – mild temperatures, sunny skies the color of robin’s eggs, trees and flowers blossoming with a rainbow of pinks, reds, yellows, and purples. So naturally (because this is the way it always works, yes?), the one weekend we had tickets to a Broadway show in New York, there was a Nor’easter. I know, I know – Nor’easters are for the winter. They involve swirling snowflakes and frigid digits. Except when they storm up the coast in April, and then they involve sheets of rain and gusty winds that make using an umbrella a Herculean task (or maybe just a useless one).

So what do you do in NYC when Mother Nature refuses to cooperate?

-Take goofy pictures in your hotel room.

Marquis

-Adopt a cuddly friend (because everyone has to love stuffed polar bears, even those of us who are twenty-eight).

Polar

-Watch the sky’s leaky faucet drop over three inches of rain on a deserted, waterlogged Times Square (SO STRANGE to see it that desolate!).

Times Square

-Snap photos of the surrounding skyscrapers disappearing into a blanket of fog.

Fog

-Fly out of your hotel the next morning when you see that Kate Walsh is on Good Morning America, because really, how awesome would it be to catch a glimpse of an actress you love? When she’s jetted off for her next appearance on Live with Kelly, hang around outside the studio and watch the fabulous Robin Roberts celebrate her tenth anniversary with GMA.

Robin 1

Robin 2

Robin 3

-Walk for miles, despite the cold weather, because WHOOHOO IT’S NOT RAINING ANYMORE!

Broadway

Times Square

Rockefeller

Rockefeller 2

S&S

-Pose with Times Square in the background.

Window

-Go back to the theater the day after seeing the show so you can actually get a picture without rain splatters dotting the camera lens.

Newsies

We may have been rained upon, but we definitely didn’t allow ourselves to get rained out. Because NYC is always magical, always electrifying, always alive with energy. It is the kind of place you can belong to instantly. It’s the kind of place you can immerse yourself in, the kind of place you can travel to again and again (and again), the kind of place that makes you feel big and small at the same time. Have you ever been somewhere that evokes the same inspiration in you? Where was it?