A Confessionary Tale.

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I confess that: although I’ve been working feverishly on WATERCOLORS and have been looking forward to some downtime for the past few weeks, now that the first draft is officially finished (!) and I’m not at my writing desk this morning, I already miss my characters.

I confess that: I didn’t think I’d be much of an audiobook person, but thanks to an awesome app for the iPod, I’ve become a huge fan and now love listening to books as much as reading them.

I confess that: I’m super disappointed today, because instead of visiting my friend and her sweet daughters, I’m stuck at home with what seems to be the beginning of a sinus infection. Really bad timing, body.

I confess that: I’ve become totally addicted to Shark Tank this season and would happily watch it all day if possible.

I confess that: everything else fell by the wayside when I was in my must-finish-this-draft frenzy, so now my non-writing to-do list is about seventeen miles long.

I confess that: I check the long-range weather forecast every morning, hoping to finally see some 70s, and am crossing my fingers because it looks like Friday might be the time.

I confess that: I click on over to my inbox way too many times per day.

I confess that: Rita’s Water Ice has only been open for a month and a half and I’ve already been there five times. Oops?

I confess that: I recently bought myself a new beaded bracelet from Emme Rylan’s etsy shop and an awesome purple purse. Because sometimes we have to treat ourselves, right?

I confess that: I’m jealous of everyone going to Washington DC this week, since last year’s Cherry Blossom Festival didn’t actually have many blossoms.

Your turn! What do you confess?


Heart Song.

“First you set out to write a book. Then, very quickly, you realize the book was set out to write you.”
~Brandon A. Trean

6 days. 22 hours. 3 chapters. 32 pages. 10,890 words.

This has been, hands down, my absolute favorite writing week for WATERCOLORS. It was one of those weeks where the words flowed freely instead of hiding behind brick walls, where I would have to go running for my journal as ideas exploded in my brain, where the characters talked openly and let me inside their heads, inside their hearts. One day, I wrote an entire page in ten minutes. Another, I lost myself so completely in the story that I forgot to eat breakfast. A third, I wrote seven pages straight and only stopped because my back was screaming at me, too achy from sitting at my desk for so long to stay there even a minute more. In short, this was the kind of week writers live for. It was ebullience and adrenaline and inspiration. It was magic.

And, though I hate to admit it, that hasn’t always been the case with this book. I’ve loved it from the beginning, have believed in the characters and their journeys, but it’s been a different experience this time. I’m writing about places and situations that are foreign to me, and sometimes, no matter how much research you do, there’s still more to learn. The list of changes I have to make in revisions is probably as long as my arm. There are scenes to add, details to tweak, storylines to shift. I won’t lie – for quite awhile, that was discouraging. I still wrote religiously every morning, I still made sure to stick to my half-a-chapter-per-day quota, but for some reason I couldn’t let the wave of the story carry me along at full throttle. Maybe it was because I’m querying SANDS OF TIME simultaneously and still feel such a pull towards those characters. Maybe it was because it’s challenging, and sometimes frustrating, to tap into the emotions of someone who’s homeless and a songwriter when I’m neither. Or maybe it’s because I have a hard time letting go of perfectionism when it comes to writing. Know what, though? That only made it more special when the story wrapped me in its embrace this week.

I got to write a series of scenes I’ve been looking forward to since the planning stages – scenes between Eden, her mom, and grandmother, scenes that honored her grandpa, scenes that lifted them a little higher. Scenes that lifted me a little higher. One of my favorite parts about working on this book has been the relationship between Eden and Lillian, because it’s given me a chance to weave my own grandmothers’ threads into the pages. Eden views life in music and melodies, and this allowed me to share part of my own heart song. Eden is not me and Lillian is not my Gram, but with these scenes in particular I could see her smile. Hear her voice. Imagine her hand atop mine. It was like she was standing behind me as I wrote – along with Grandmom Dot, Pop Joe, and Granddaddy – smiling peacefully. Proudly. I will always regret that my grandparents didn’t get a chance to read my books. With this, though, it kind of feels like they can. Like their love still lives on. Like they’re reminding me, as Lillian reminded Eden, that the people we’ve lost are never truly gone. They are always inside us, and when we can crack open our hearts and let their love burst onto the page … it is the best.

Endings have always been my favorite part of a book to write. There is something uniquely special about watching the story tie together. It is satisfying, and fulfilling, and, I think, the closest a writer can get to experiencing real, tingly, out-of-this-world magic. Writing the last few chapters of a book makes me feel like I’m flying. Soaring. Reaching up for the stars and actually holding those pinpricks of light in my palms. With only three chapters to go in this draft, I have never been more excited about the story. I would plunk myself in that desk chair and write for twenty-four hours straight if I could. I am forcing myself to take a day off tomorrow, but my fingers, they’re already itching to find the keys again. And you know, in retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing that this book didn’t come as easily. Nothing worth having ever does, and now I truly mean it when I say I can’t wait to jump into revisions. I am giddy with the thought of where this book could go. Where it could take me.

Where it already has.

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?

A Different Route.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was in college, the constant construction and detours along my route became fodder for endless jokes. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, over the course of five years, every single road I took was closed at some point. Some were blocked multiple times. Roadwork. Utility work. Tree work. You name it, I encountered it. A sergeant from one of the local police stations even said he was going to attend my graduation with a bright orange construction cone so I’d know it was him, that’s how many times we called to ask about alternate routes. It unnerved me at first, a lot. I’d only gotten my license a month before starting school (a car accident three months before my sixteenth birthday, where we were rear-ended at 65mph and pushed into a traffic light pole, had freaked me out to the point of not wanting to get behind the wheel), and it was nerve-wracking enough to travel the streets I knew. When I was forced into switching it up? Let’s just say I wasn’t a happy camper. But the more I drove on those roads, the more normal they became. And the more I drove in general, the less flustered I became when I saw a familiar neon orange sign announcing a change of plans.

There may not be any visual warnings like that when it comes to writing, but the more I immerse myself in the craft, the more I realize just how many detours we end up taking. We’ve all heard that each project is a different experience, right? I think that’s the best advice I’ve ever read about this crazy writing life. No matter how many books you work on, no matter how many blank pages you start with and how many “The End”s you type, no two journeys will ever be the same. They can’t be. The characters are different, the lessons – for them and us – are different, the process is different. My first two manuscripts I wrote in less than three months apiece. It was a frenzied pace, where I was driven by this compulsion to keep going, going, going. My third one? Took quite a bit longer and required even more in edits/deletions. Writing too much became a theme of mine that continued for my next two books. I am just a wordy person when it comes to first drafts. I’ve accepted that and even embraced it. So as I work on WATERCOLORS now, and see it taking shape in a whole other way … well, I was most surprised at first.

I’m dealing with a lot of unfamiliar subjects in this story. Homelessness. Shelters. Songwriting. The recording industry. Meteorology. These are just a few of the things I spent a long time researching before even beginning to type away. I want to do justice to these topics that I feel are so important, so worth having a dialogue about, and sometimes it’s difficult, because I haven’t lived them myself. And what about my characters? I do love them. They’ve been the bread and butter of this project, so to speak. On many levels, I understand what makes them tick, what makes them sing. With Eden in particular, I’ve been able to see a lot of myself in parts of her, even though our situations have almost nothing in common. But that doesn’t make this path we’re traveling together a straight one. There are bends in this road, curves that throw me off-course and detours I’m forced into taking. For the first time … well, ever … I already have a list of scenes to change and add, and I’m only halfway through this draft. For someone whose revisions usually focus primarily on cutting, this is exciting as much as it is intimidating. And for someone who’s a perfectionist, this has been a lesson in restraint, to keep writing on instead of going back to fix everything right away. It’s also taught me something else: sometimes we can’t fully see where we came from until we know exactly where we’re heading. I needed to watch Eden grow before I could see all the aspects of where she started. I’m not gonna lie, that upset me at first. I’m used to understanding my characters from the get-go. This was especially true for Remi and Charlotte in SOT, and I think that’s what made this current book so tough for me at the beginning. Coming off a writing experience that was so joyful, so special, so infused with love and hope and light … it would’ve been hard for anything to measure up. But Eden is not Remi. She’s not Charlotte. With her, the revelations have come step-by-step, piece-by-piece. And, I understand now, that’s not a bad thing. It’s just different. It’s unique. It’s special in its own way.

We take alternate routes with each story we write. Some will be paved highways. Others will be rocky, white gravel roads like the one a GPS once took my friends and I on during our road trip in the South. But, when all is said and done, they’ll all get us to the same place. They’ll carry us to “The End” … which is really just the beginning.

All in the Numbers, Part Two.

“When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.”
~W.E.B. Du Bois

6: the number showing our current windchill, which, believe it or not, is actually an improvement over some of the temperatures we’ve seen here lately. Between the frigid digits and the snowfall practically every other day, I think it’s safe to say everyone is counting down to spring. Fifty-two days, y’all!

46,440: the number of words in WATERCOLORS, my WIP, which has been such an interesting and eye-opening journey since day one. I’m going to write a separate post about this soon, but for now I’ll just say: it’s amazing how every book truly is an entirely different experience. Eden’s keeping me on my toes, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes me next.

9: the number of days until Kristin Chenoweth’s concert and M&G. I can’t wait to have a chance to talk with her and am already considering the notecard option (like I did with Kelly), so I don’t forget anything. To say I’m ridiculously excited for this opportunity is an understatement.

26: the number of books I’m hoping to dive into this year, although if my to-read list is any indication, it should really be double that amount. So many stories, not enough hours in the day.

4,812,692: the number of times I check my inbox daily. Kidding. Sort of. This querying business is a good reminder that patience is indeed a virtue.

What numbers are defining your weekend?

Home Sweet Home.

“My heart’s like an open book
For the whole world to read
Sometimes nothing keeps me together at the seams
I’m on my way, I’m on my way
Home sweet home.”
~Carrie Underwood, “Home Sweet Home”

It’s been more than thirteen years since my Gram sold her house, but I still remember it like it was yesterday – the way we all helped box things up, the way I sat at the kitchen table with my European History binder and studied for an upcoming test instead of going home to do it, the way we took pictures in every room so we’d have tangible reminders in addition to the memories painted in our minds. Thirteen years and I still think about those days. I still think about that house, with its aqua and peach floral sofas, its warm and shaggy rugs, its piano in the living room and its sliding glass door straight to the backyard. I think about the afternoons with Granddaddy and how he taught me to play checkers, about the evenings with Gram and how she’d treat me to ice cream with pretzels when I slept over, about how I could spend hours organizing her sewing box and looking through old photo albums. I think about eating chicken soup in the kitchen, watching Home Alone in the family room, and having countless holiday meals in the dining room. Sometimes the memories feel like fairy dust and I wish for the ability to toss them into the air, to watch them light up the sky like tiny glittering stars. In a way, that’s what they are for me: stars to illuminate the way.

So maybe it’s a little strange that I haven’t driven past the house since it was sold. The new owners actually told our family to feel free to drop by anytime, even if we wanted to come in, but I could never bring myself to do it, knowing how different things would look. I wanted to keep that image in my head of how it was, of how, to me, it should always be. My mom and aunt have both driven by over the years, as did Gram. But I just … couldn’t. Until two weeks ago. My mom and I happened to be nearby, and though she offered to navigate around that beloved street, I told her to keep going. I averted my gaze when we went by – the facade is almost completely different now and I knew it would upset me – but just being there … maybe this sounds strange, but I swear, I could feel Gram’s warmth. It made me sad, because I miss her so, but it also filled me with love. Home is so much more than the walls of a house, but sometimes their foundations can also be our own.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. So much of the book I’m working on is centered around home – what it means to lose it, to find it, to create it. Like several of my other characters, Eden has traveled from one place to another in search of the life that will fill her up, that will make her soul sing. She wants so desperately to have somewhere she belongs, and as I go on that journey with her, as I watch her realize that home isn’t what makes her, but what she makes of it, I’m filled with appreciation for the experiences I’ve had. For having so many spots that are home to me. For being able to close my eyes and think of different houses, different towns, different states that warm my heart. I hope Eden can find that, too. I hope Serena, who has escaped the walls that trapped her, can find it. I hope Wilson and his sweet daughter Emmalynn can. I hope the whole cast of characters can. I want them to so very much.

Being a writer really has made my heart into an open book. It’s cathartic in a way I can’t ever explain, especially when I get to incorporate pieces of my own story into those of my characters. Eden’s grandmother Lillian may live in a cottage by the water instead of a ranch house on the outskirts of a city, but the times they shared there when Eden was growing up … they are my reminder of times I spent with Gram and Grandmom Dot. And so I’m grateful to this book, to these characters, just as I have been to previous ones, for stirring up the magic and memories that live inside. Because for me, writing isn’t just storytelling.

Writing is home, too.

Playing Catch-Up.

“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.”
~Andy Goldsworthy

So, um … it’s been nearly two weeks since I’ve written anything on here. Whoops. I’m not sure how that happened. For as quickly as time flies all year long, it seems to move along at warp speed during the holiday season. It was just Thanksgiving, and now I’m sitting here and looking out the window at today’s fresh snowfall glistening in the re-emerging sun. It is the prettiest kind of reminder that winter’s on its way and a lovely backdrop as I play some catch-up with y’all.


After spending most of November planning out my new book, I was finally ready to jump into drafting last week! Not gonna lie, it felt immensely strange at first to be writing about characters other than Remi and Charlotte, but I’m almost 11,000 words into the book as of this morning and am having a blast with it now. My MC Eden is very different from anyone whose story I’ve told before, and I actually really love that. Her world is currently tumbling down around her, but what falls down can also rise up, and I’m excited to watch her rebuild, renew, and refresh her life. It’s going to be a fun journey to take. Beyond Eden, I’m quite giddy about the supporting cast: Eden’s grandmother Lillian (I have always wanted to write a grandma/granddaughter relationship), her soon-to-be best friend Serena, her parents Mariah and Joel, her love interest Wilson … it is an eclectic group in more ways than one, and I can’t wait to explore the dynamics further.


Speaking of Remi, look what I got for Hanukkah! The keychain’s hard to make out in the picture, but it says “write your own story.” I love, love, love them both and am so happy to have a Nantucket shirt that’s straight off the island. If I can’t visit there yet, this is the next best thing.


Totally worth braving Sunday’s snow (yep, it snowed Sunday … and today … and evidently again this coming Saturday) to finally see CATCHING FIRE. I was blown away by how wonderful it is. The acting, the sets, the soundtrack, the special effects … it was phenomenal from start to finish. I love that the movies stay so true to the books, and yet, at the same time, they’re easy to follow along with if you haven’t read the story (at least, it seems like they would be … can’t attest to that personally). This is my favorite of the books and now my favorite of the movies so far, too. Huge kudos to the whole cast for being so fabulous, especially Jennifer Lawrence. She is just crazy awesome.


Also crazy awesome? Nancy Lee Grahn. It is always such a pleasure to visit with her when she holds her East Coast events every other year.

Your turn: tell me what’s been up with you guys lately!

Room for More.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
~Anais Nin

Being a writer is a wonderful thing. It’s a chance to lose yourself in other worlds, to tell the stories inside your head and heart, to learn about your characters and to learn from your characters. I know I talk about this all the time, but truly, there is nothing like the experience of falling in love with a new story. It’s like taking flight with a butterfly that carries the most pure, fluttery joy on its wings. And how lucky are we to be filled with that joy once, let alone multiple times? I think that’s one of the neatest parts about writing: how there is always another opportunity waiting around the bend, just waiting for us to pick up our pens, to open up our Word documents, and give breath to it. This month marks six years since the day I sat down at the computer and started writing what I honestly thought would be a short story. Now, hundreds of thousands of words later, I think back on that time with such a smile, with such warm fuzzies. If you had told me then that I’d write five full novels over the span of the next several years, I’d probably have laughed until my sides hurt. But I have. I’ve gotten to know five casts of characters, gotten to immerse myself in five book-babies, gotten to discover five novels that have become such an intrinsic part of who I am.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe. Each time I finish a book, I wonder – is there enough room in my heart for another one? Will the walls stretch a little further? Will the crevices widen to accommodate new characters and new journeys? Often I worry that the answer is no. And always I have been proven wrong. When I sat down this past February to begin SANDS OF TIME, I didn’t know what to expect. After all, my previous three novels had been about the same family. Sofie, Brandon, Ellie, Addilyn, and Jordan … they were like my friends. I loved them dearly, and it felt strange at first, so very strange, to be telling someone else’s story. But then a funny thing happened. I wrote Remi’s first chapter, then Charlotte’s. And instantly that concern spiraled away. Instantly these MCs intertwined themselves with me. Instantly this project became more near and dear than words can express. I’ve mentioned before that writing SANDS OF TIME was a unique kind of experience, one so overflowing with happiness and love that it once again has me thinking I won’t be able to replicate it this next time around.

Maybe that’s true. I know many authors say they can’t choose a favorite book, that it would be akin to picking a favorite child. Aren’t there exceptions to that rule, though? I’m not saying every book isn’t special in its own way. They are. When I look back at my own novels, I am inordinately grateful for having experienced every one. Each has been a light in my life. Each has taught me, helped me, molded me, inspired me in different ways. But if you asked me now to name a favorite or two, I could do it. And so, as I leap into planning for my next book, I can’t help wondering: after SOT made me fall in love with writing all over again, what will this project offer? It has some pretty big shoes to fill. Or does it? Perhaps, instead of comparing it to what came before, I should be offering it some shoes of its own. Because every book is unique, and that’s a good thing. It’s a lovely thing.

Will Eden – my new MC – become as special to me as Remi and Charlotte? As Sofie? I don’t know yet. But what I am sure of is this: I am so enjoying getting to know her. She’s told me a lot about her story so far and I’m genuinely excited to learn more. Planning a new novel is always one of my absolute favorite parts of the process. Everything is so shiny, so hopeful, so glistening with the luminance of a thousand fireflies. It’s like being Pandora, about to open the box and watch its contents spring up to greet you. I’ve only been working on this next book for a week, so there’s still a long way to go, but I’m starting to feel that anticipation bubble up. I’m starting to get those flashes of inspiration when I least expect them – because isn’t that how it always goes? – and I’m starting to imagine how the scenes will unfold. In a way, this book is going to play off of SOT. Remi and Charlotte get to have an important role, and I won’t lie, I cannot wait to write about them again. But I’m also looking forward to writing about Eden. I’m looking forward to visiting with a whole other group of people. Something tells me they have new lessons to teach.

There are always more questions than answers when embarking on a book journey, but this I know for sure: no two paths are the same, and they shouldn’t be. And wherever this one leads … well, I will be glad to follow. I will be glad to make room in my heart for more.

Do you know?

“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.”

– Know what’s annoying? Super-maddening-makes-you-want-to-scream-from-a-mountaintop annoying? Tinnitus. I woke up last Thursday with a constant ringing in my right ear, kind of like the fire alarm you’d hear in a school building, and it’s been playing its irritating tune ever since. It FINALLY shifted to a more muted, lower-pitched sound today – still frustrating, but at least it’s not driving me up a wall. Working, reading, and even sleeping (especially sleeping) have been a challenge, because when it’s quiet ALL I can hear is the noise, and it’s getting to the point where I’m actually looking forward to seeing an ENT specialist next week to find out what’s going on and how, fingers crossed, to make it stop.

– Know what’s exciting? Super-wonderful-makes-you-want-to-jump-up-and-down exciting? Getting a meet & greet with the fabulous Kristin Chenoweth. She’ll be here for a concert in February and I decided to splurge for the VIP package. It is very important to me – more important than I can explain, really – to express my appreciation to her for her song “Borrowed Angels.” It brought me such comfort after losing Gram back in 2011, such solace after an experience that shattered my family’s collective heart into smithereens, and I desperately want to thank her for that. I already know I’m going to cry, but they will be happy tears. Grateful ones.

– Know what’s addicting? Super-compulsive-makes-you-keep-repeating-it-even-though-it-won’t-change-anything addicting? Refreshing your inbox while querying. Watched pots really don’t ever boil, do they?

– Know what’s invigorating? Super-adrenaline-pumping-makes-you-want-to-imagine-all-the-magic-in-the-world invigorating? Starting to dream up a new book. I’ve had several (very general, still hazy in that whimsical way where they contain so much possibility) ideas floating around in my head since finishing SANDS OF TIME, but I haven’t been ready to focus on them yet. Getting SOT prepared to query was first on my priority list, and to be honest, I was still too swept up in Remi’s and Charlotte’s worlds to even consider jumping into a new one yet. But then Kaitlin suggested a storyline that instantly sent my mind ablaze, and I’m really looking forward to discovering where it will lead. I haven’t started to brainstorm or plan yet, but am hoping to in the next couple weeks. And the best part? Remi and Charlotte get to play a role. I adore tying former MCs into new stories. Something about it just feels special.

What’s currently annoying/exciting/addicting/invigorating in your life?


“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
~Stephen King

If you heard a squeal of happiness yesterday at approximately 10:30AM Eastern time – or perhaps it was more of a cheer – chances are it was coming from Pennsylvania. From the general vicinity of my desk. From my mouth. Because that’s when I reached those always bittersweet words: THE END. When I first wrote them back in June, I was misty-eyed. When I reaffirmed them yesterday, I was smiling from ear-to-ear. My major round of revisions? FINISHED. And the icing on the cake? I came in more than 2500 words below my goal. That makes for one very excited writer. The final chapter of this book was my favorite thing to write, ever, and even though I was so ready to wrap up edits by the point I reached it, yesterday’s work was still a joy. That’s what this manuscript will forever represent to me: pure, unfettered, unequivocal joy. I’m taking a week-long break while we head to the shore for vacation, but to be sure, it won’t be far from my thoughts or heart.

And now (this is a complete non-sequitur, but I must post this quickly so I can finish packing), a “six things” meme, which I was tagged for by the wonderful Megan.

1. What is your favorite movie quote and why?
Is it cheating if I choose a quote from the film adaptation of a book? I positively adore the following, from The Help: “Go to New York, Ms. Skeeter. Go find your life.” Skeeter is one of my all-time favorite characters. The way she stands up to societal stereotypes, the way she breaks down walls through her writing and through her determination … it’s an inspiration. She tells the stories she can’t not tell, and she reminds all of us writers to never, ever give up. We must find our lives. We must create them.

2. It’s back to school time. What was the best year you had in school? What made it so great?
You know, I’m really not sure if I can pinpoint a single year. I honestly enjoyed so many of them. Junior year in high school was an incredible amount of work, but I loved my AP English Lit and American History classes. I learned more in that English course than in any other. I adored my senior year in high school because of all the extracurriculars I was part of, especially being on the steering committee for our school’s Involvement Day (where regular classes were cancelled, a plethora of speakers came to speak to students about a variety of causes and volunteer organizations, and everyone got to choose which sessions they attended) and acting as student coordinator for the district’s media symposium (even if it meant giving a speech in front of over a hundred people – talk about nervous!). Going further back, I loved sixth grade – candlelight hour, creating “bare books” with the first graders, watching Voyage of the Mimi, and more – and going forward, I also loved my senior year in college.

3. Is there special something you do every day (journal, Skype someone, take a walk, etc)? What is it?
Write, write, write. That was a shocker of an answer, huh? I also go for a long walk when the weather is cooperative. And, um, does playing Candy Crush count?

4. How do you get blog ideas?
Well, obviously a lot of my posts revolve around writing – sometimes they’re updates on my own process, sometimes they’re reactions to things I’ve seen or read elsewhere. Beyond that, I try to balance it out with other topics and generally just write whatever I’m inspired to discuss.

5. Has anybody famous ever followed or mentioned you on twitter or another social media site?
Yes! Several General Hospital actors and actresses have responded to comments – they are amazing at being in touch with the fans – as well as some of my favorites from American Idol. There are also some fabulous authors who followed me back and who I chat with – so fun! And then there’s Kristin Chenoweth, who answered me twice within the span of a day. To say I was excited is a gigantic understatement.

6. Describe your perfect Sunday.
Writing, reading, walking, and watching a handful of old I Love Lucy episodes … unless we’re talking about a summer Sunday, which would also include swimming and take place seaside.

Your turn: answer one (or more) of the questions in the comments, please!