What’s Up?

“I will not fall
I will stand tall through it all
Just so you can see
The strongest parts of me.”
~Elise Testone, “I Will Not Break”

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, so I figured I’d pop in with another.

What I’m listening to: Elise Testone released her debut album, In This Life, last week, and I’m so enjoying it. She was my pick from American Idol in 2012 – there’s something very textured and unique to her voice, like it’s telling a story – and I’ve been looking forward to hearing new music from her ever since. Favorite songs include: Still We Try, Never Gave Me Butterflies, Save Me, and I Will Not Break. Also: Kristin Chenoweth’s Taylor the Latte Boy. She sang it at her concert on the fifth and I seriously have not been able to get it out of my head for the past twelve days. So fun and catchy.

What I’m watching: Olympics, Olympics, OLYMPICS. If there’s coverage airing, my television is on. I love everything about the games: the spirit, the dedication, the joy, the diligence, the hope, the faith, the pride. There’s just nothing like getting to watch someone’s dream come true. And how inspiring is it to know that, with years of determination and hard work, the training can pay off? Obviously writing is a far cry from figure skating or skiing, but seeing those athletes achieve their goals makes me want to jump into my desk chair and keep working on my own.

What I’m reading: Sarah Beard’s PORCELAIN KEYS. I’ll have a full review (and giveaway!) up on the 28th, so I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll just say this: it’s a book that stays with you. When I’m not hanging out with the characters, I want to be. They resonate like the music that runs through their souls, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in their story. If only I could just sit and read all day …

What I’m writing: Still hard at work on WATERCOLORS! I’m 64,000(ish) words in and enjoying it more and more with every day. Eden’s life is starting to turn around in wonderful ways, and even though I want to shake her for making choices that will bring it all to a screeching halt down the line, I must admit, it’s such fun to write this part of the book. I really feel like I’m getting to know her well now, and the supporting cast, too. Today’s writing session featured a diary entry from Eden’s mother Mariah and it made me super excited to flesh out her part of the story more. It’s amazing how characters’ lives, how all of our lives, are so interconnected like sentences on a page. Getting to weave their threads together is such an exhilarating process.

What I’m smiling about: a countdown to spring (thirty days, thirty days, thirty days!), this video of a precious polar bear cub making his debut in Toronto, irises that fill the house with their sweet scent, and new nail polish that adds a splash of color to the day.

What are you listening to / watching / reading / writing / smiling about this week?


Going for Gold.

“Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”
~Michael Phelps

First off, I need to extend last week’s list. Reason #6 why Emily Giffin rocks? She was sweet enough to post a link to my blog on Facebook and Twitter. How awesome is that? Yet more proof of how much she genuinely cares about her readers. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped when I first realized what she’d done, and then it continued to graze the floor as thousands of page views came rolling in. Fun, fun, fun, and such a great way to connect with fellow Emily fans. Thanks to all who commented!

Okay, moving on, I’ve been wanting to write about the Olympics ever since the torch blazed up toward the London sky. Has anyone else been enamored with the Games? As in, having the television on whenever there’s coverage, no matter the sport? As in, staying up until midnight to watch the primetime programming, even when you get up quite early in the mornings? As in, humming the theme song without even realizing it? As in, being so excited for the Spice Girls’ performance at the closing ceremonies? As in, being able to ramble off every sport included in these Summer Games? Anyone? Please say it’s not only me!

I’ve always loved the Olympics. I still remember sitting about two feet from the television, fingers crossed and breath caught in my throat, when Kerri Strug did her second vault in the 1996 Games and clinched the gold medal for our women’s gymnastics team. I was such a fan of the “Magnificent Seven.” Honestly, I’m a fan of pretty much everything about the Olympics. There’s a sense of hope behind them, a can-do attitude that very much aligns with the way I try to live my life. As my MC Sofie – who grew up just outside of Atlanta, where the ’96 Games were held – says:

I was only a teenager when the Games were here, but I remember the spirit that infused the city like it happened just yesterday. There’s a sense of optimism that the Olympics bring about, an inspiration you can’t really describe.

It’s not about winning gold, silver, or bronze. It’s not about getting the highest score. It’s about the diligence, dedication, and devotion the athletes put in for so many years. It’s about the way they motivate us to do the same – whether we’re swimming the backstroke, writing a book, studying our way through med school, choreographing dances to the music in our hearts, anything. No matter what, these people inspire us to push our limits. To dream further. To dream more. It’s about people like Oscar and Liu, who was helped across the finish line by his competitors after an injury. It’s about teamwork between people – like the golden women’s gymnastics team and the rockstar volleyball duo of Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor – and about teamwork between nations. It’s about sportsmanship, unity, and love.

Were there tears because of sadness? Yes (anyone who’s been watching gymnastics will know what I mean). But were there also so many tears of happiness? Absolutely. That’s a big part of what we take away from the Olympics, I think, the joy of watching dreams-come-true. And, though we may not be leaping over hurdles, whirling down from a diving board, or twisting through the air, I actually think the writing community is a lot like the Olympic one. In our own way, we train every day. We sit down at our desks and brainstorm, write, edit, polish. We find the stories within our characters, within ourselves, even when it’s challenging. We work consistently and constantly to make our own dreams come true. They vary for each person: to finish a manuscript, to self-publish, to sign with an agent and go the traditional publishing route, to see our book-babies out in the world. Much like the Olympians’ journey, it can be difficult sometimes. Frustrating. Emotional. But at the end of the day, we get our gold medals, too. Because no matter what plays out on our journeys, we get to experience the inspiration of storytelling, the passion of writing.

And if that doesn’t make us golden, I don’t know what does.