Tuesday’s Tunes: On Repeat.

“Put my heart where my head should be
And light up the rest of me
‘Cause the dreams
They won’t fall apart
Through the stars, through the stars
When your life is a work of art.”
~Rachel Platten, “Work of Art”

Wow, it’s been forever and a day since my last Tuesday’s Tunes post. That’s partially because of WATERCOLORS – when I’m working on a book, I tend to listen to its playlist repeatedly and focus mainly on those songs – and also because it’s been a long time, too long, since I bought any albums. The good news? Some of my favorite singers have released new music within the past couple months, which means there are fresh melodies twirling through my mind and inspiring my soul. Here are a few of them:

“Work of Art” and “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten: Okay, I can’t choose just one song from Rachel, because I’ve been listening to both of these every day lately. She released the first one a couple years ago, and “Fight Song” is new. Both are wonderful. Both are inspiring. Both are special. These songs seep into the crevices of your heart and make it beat with added hope and faith. In fact, they’ve become the soundtrack to my life as of late, as I navigate the roller-coaster that is querying two books simultaneously. There are days when I’m on top of the world and days when I want to scream in frustration, but no matter what, these songs remind me to keep going, keep persevering, keep fighting for what I believe in.

“Trouble” – Didi Benami: Didi was my favorite on American Idol back in 2010, and she just released her debut album Reverie in September. It’s a fabulous collection of insightful, evocative music that works its way into your head and refuses to leave. There’s a whimsy to Didi’s lyrics and her voice, and it really sets her apart. “Trouble” is one of the singles from her new album, and it does an awesome job of showing how unique her music is.

“Universe Electric” – Angie Miller: Angie is another Idol favorite, and I just love her debut EP Weathered. It’s hard to pick which song I like best – so many are awesome – but if I had to choose, it’d be “Universe Electric.” Not only is it catchy, but it has such a great message about us all joining together to turn a spark into a flame. Angie is always telling her supporters to “dream big,” and that sense of hope and optimism definitely comes through not only in this song, but in the whole album.

“I Was Here” – Kristin Chenoweth: I was so excited when I heard that Kristin was releasing a live album. It was such a special experience to attend her concert in February, and now I get to relive it every time I listen to Coming Home! My favorite song on the album is “I Was Here,” not only because it’s the theme song for two of my characters, but also because it’s mine. It’s the kind of song that builds you up and gives you wings … the kind of song that makes you want to fly. Kristin explains why she loves it, too, in this video.

What songs do you have on repeat lately?


Tuesday’s Tunes: Never Giving Up.

“Even if it means my heart keeps breaking
Even if I lose, my love’s not changing
I’m never … I’m never giving up.”
~Melinda Doolittle, “Never Giving Up”

You guys, I am SO EXCITED about this edition of Tuesday’s Tunes! Why, you may ask? Because it features the brand-new single from one of my favorite singers – and favorite people! – Melinda Doolittle. I’ve written before about how special Melinda is and how grateful I am to know her. What you see is what you get with her: she is kind, generous, giving, inspirational, and crazy talented. I have loved all her music and this song is no exception. In fact, it’s already catapulted to the top of my “must listen” list. Melinda talks about the meaning behind the song on her blog, and truly, I think it’s one we all can relate to in some way. How many times have we been told to stop pursuing a dream? To focus our attention elsewhere? How many times have we been knocked down? And, more importantly, how many times have we gotten back up?

No matter what you’re going through, no matter what roadblocks or detours you’ve encountered on the pathway to your brightest hopes and dreams, this song reminds us all not to give up. Not to listen to the naysayers. Not to let the journey make us lose sight of the destination. “Take my pen and write a brand-new dream” is my very favorite lyric — and not only for the obvious connection I feel to the words, since, as a writer, each story does indeed feel like penning a dream, but also because it’s just … a beacon of faith. What better gift is there than the ability to write our own destinies? To put those dreams on paper and then bring them to life? It is a lovely thing, a beautiful opportunity.

Give the song a listen and I promise you’ll be inspired: Never Giving Up. I’ll be listening to it as I continue querying SANDS OF TIME. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’ll even become my anthem.

What song is motivating you lately?

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?

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.

Tuesday’s Tunes: Graduation Edition.

“Just wait and see
Maybe I’ll write like Twain wrote
Maybe I’ll paint like Van Gogh
Cure the common cold, I don’t know
But I’m ready to start, cause I know in my heart
I wanna do somethin’ that matters, say somethin’ different
Somethin’ that sets the whole world on its ear.”
~Kristin Chenoweth, “I Was Here”

This past weekend marked seven years since I graduated from college. In a couple more weeks, it will be eleven years since I received my high school diploma. I seriously cannot comprehend how that’s even possible. And just in case those two things aren’t making me feel old enough … my student teaching classes, the bright and bubbly sixth graders who taught me as much as I taught them, are now mature and dedicated twelfth graders who are about to enter a whole new world. Yesterday was their Senior Awards Night, and though I was back at my old high school for a different reason – to be there as my eleventh grade AP English teacher found out about the new award we’ve created in her honor as she retires at the end of this school year – it was also awesome to see “my” kids again. Some look the same. Some look different. All are now taller than me (which, granted, isn’t hard to achieve, but still!). Though I was only a daily part of their LM experience for half a year, I was so proud to see them accept their awards and to hear about the accomplished, hard-working, generous, and giving young men and women they have become. It got me thinking – as they graduate from high school now, what advice would I give them? To stand up for themselves and fight for what they believe in most. To follow their dreams and know that passion is always possible. To go out into the world and do well, but also to go out into the world and do good. And I hope these are the songs they take to heart …

“I Was Here” – Kristin Chenoweth:

“Breakaway” – Kelly Clarkson:

“The Middle” – Lauren Alaina:

“Best Days” – Graham Colton:

Truly, these are messages which can inspire us all – whether we’re graduating today, whether we’re graduating years from now, or whether we’ve graduated years ago. The great thing about life? We can constantly reinvent ourselves and consistently pursue our passions. Because we should all “wanna do somethin’ that matters.” We should all “do what it takes ’til we touch the sky.” We should all “take each day and make it last.” We should all “make the best of tonight.” We should all remember our pasts, embrace our tomorrows, and live – really, truly, live out loud – our todays.

What songs would you suggest to a new graduate? What songs were your anthem when you graduated? I remember loving Vitamin C’s “Graduation” in high school and both Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” and Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” in college.

Tuesday’s Tunes: Blown Away.

“In a place far away, where the water meets the sky
The thought of it makes me smile
You are my tomorrow…”
~Carrie Underwood, “See You Again”

Okay, so: I’ve been super excited to write about Carrie’s new album for this week’s edition of Tuesday’s Tunes, until I sat down at my desk, opened up a blank page, and realized … well, there’s actually not much I can say. Because for once – probably for the first time ever – I’ve kept my vow and not listened to even a snippet of any song on the CD, other than the lead single. Apparently patience is a virtue, after all. But even without having heard the music, even without having experienced the magic of melodies and meanings swirling together, I can tell you this: it’ll be fantastic. I looked up the lyrics to all fourteen songs so I could find the perfect ones to include with this post, and even now, while they’re only words on a computer screen and not chords humming through the air, they are just … lovely. Poignant. Relatable. Touching.

As is this video of Carrie performing her current single, “Good Girl,” with an elementary school chorus. It is SO CUTE. Truly, if you’re looking for something to make you smile, this is it.

Now … I’m off to go bug the employees at Target until they open the stock boxes and give me a copy to buy.

Are you a Carrie Underwood fan? Will you be buying her album BLOWN AWAY today? (Hint: the answers to those questions should be ‘yes’ and ‘yes’) Do you wait until a CD comes out to listen to its songs or do you ever cave in ahead of time?

Tuesday’s Tunes: Querying Edition.

“It’s an endless ride
Sometimes it takes you up
Sometimes it tears you down inside
But it’s the butterflies
That keep you feeling so alive…”
~David Archuleta, “Elevator”

When Caryn and I were chatting last week and she suggested a “Songs to Query To” for Tuesday’s Tunes, I immediately fell in love with the idea and couldn’t wait to brainstorm a list. It was such fun to see how many lyrics relate to the emotional roller-coaster that is the querying process – and so tough to narrow them down for this post! Below is just a sampling of my favorites:

“Elevator” – David Archuleta: This song is an ideal way to describe the craziness that defines querying. Seriously, you’d think it was written with that sole purpose in mind, that’s how closely some of the lyrics align. Because it DOES feel like an endless ride sometimes, the elevator going up and down, up and down, up and down some more. It’s hard, so hard, to always go with the flow when so much of it is beyond your control, but it helps to remember those butterflies that keep us so alive – the wings of inspiration that our books and characters become to us. They make the ride so worth it.

“The Story” – Sara Ramirez: Okay, this one may not correspond as specifically, but there’s no denying that the emotion behind the lyrics so passionately sums up exactly what we feel as writers. I firmly believe that each manuscript we create leaves a handprint on our hearts – and, like Sara sings, they also leave imprints on our face, lines that help tell the story of who we are. For our characters, we’d climb across the mountaintops and swim across the ocean blue. Querying is no easy task, either, but we do it for them, and for ourselves, too.

“Misery” – Maroon 5: This is Caryn’s brainchild and the reason why I HAD to do this post, because the song was just begging to be included. Favorite part: I wrote you a hundred letters. Seriously, could it be ANY MORE PERFRECT? Nope, didn’t think so.

“Crazy Dreams” – Carrie Underwood: This one is for the day when agents fall in love with our book-babies, make THE CALL, and all our crazy dreams come true. For the day when wild magnolias bloom. And until then, for the times when we need a reminder that a bad day should never be enough to talk us into giving up. Persistence and passion, hard work and hope – here’s to wishing it all turns into crazy dreams lived out loud every day.

What songs would make your must-listen list while querying? What songs inspire you to dream big and work hard?

Tuesday’s Tunes: Valentine’s Edition.

“Mama, you taught me to do the right things,
So now you have to let your baby fly.
You’ve given me everything that I will need,
To make it through this crazy thing called life.”
~Carrie Underwood, “Mama’s Song”

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Whether you’re celebrating with a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, little dear heart, or your family and friends, I wish you all a day – and every day – filled with sunshine, smiles, laughter, and love. May your hearts always be overflowing with happiness and may life’s miracles strike a resonant chord. Speaking of which … for today’s Tuesday’s Tunes, I thought it’d be fun to feature two of my favorite love-related songs.

“Save The Last Dance For Me” – Michael Buble: There’s something a little bit magical about this song – maybe it’s the melody, the lyrics, the feel-good vibe that surrounds you as you listen. Maybe it’s all three. Maybe it’s more. Whatever the case, there’s a reason this is played so frequently at weddings. When you find someone who makes you feel like you’re floating, who makes you believe that fairytales aren’t just for storybooks, who better to share the music with, right?

“Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood: Love isn’t just about soulmates. It’s about family and friends, about all the people we adore and all the bonds we weave into beautiful tapestries. Carrie’s gorgeous song explores the relationship between a new bride and groom and also the unconditional connection between a mother and daughter. It’s one that many people can’t put into words, but she so eloquently sets it to music. Times change, we all grow up and spread our wings, and through it all, the people we love most want nothing more than for us to fly.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s song?