Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Beauty in all things - joy and hardship

Yep, prepare yourself: it's time for a philosophical post as I look back at the last year.
It has been quite the year, both personally and professionally. It's had some ups, and boy has it had some downs. We lost Josh to cancer, my sweet little dog was killed by a deer, I decided to part ways with my agent, I spent months writing, revising, and querying, I completed 2 half-marathons--meeting my goal of finishing in under two hours--but hurt my knee so I had to stop running for months. I got rejections. LOTS of rejections. And more.
I've been low, very, very low. There have been a lot of dark days in 2012.  
But I've also had some amazing highs--there is so much beauty in my life. Out of pain and sorrow can come the sweetest joy. They say that you can only experience happiness in relation to how much sorrow you've experienced. In other words, the more bitter your trials, pain, and sorrow, the more sweet your joy and happiness when blessings flow in.
I have three amazing children, when there was a long, dark period of my life when I thought we would never be able to have more children. I was able to put on my "dream" butterfly-themed 1st birthday party for my baby girl--the baby girl I wasn't sure I'd ever have. I have an amazing, supportive husband who ALWAYS believed, even when I was at rock-bottom--and who loves me no matter what. I have family and friends who are there for me, supporting and loving me, every step of the way. I could go on and on.
And as far as my writing goes, I never gave up, and eventually... The sun finally broke through the clouds. I've had the same quote at the top of my blog since I began it years ago.
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt
I have clung to that hope, to those dreams, to that elusive future for SO long.
Just last week, I was driving home from taking SonB to preschool, and as I turned into my neighborhood, I saw this spectacular scene and had to stop to take a picture. It had been a dark, gloomy start to the day, fog obscured the sun all morning. But by afternoon, the light began to break through as the fog dissipated. And this glorious view was mine to enjoy for a brief moment as I drove home. It was pure luck, and perfect timing, that I happened to see this. Within a minute or less after stopping, the fog and clouds had moved, and even though it was still pretty, it wasn't stunning like this one moment had been when you could see the sun's rays shining down. For just that brief minute, the fog and the sun lined up perfectly to create this moment of breathtaking beauty.

Life is a lot like that. When you look for the beauty, you'll find it. Even if it's just one brief, glorious moment--a result of a little bit of luck, and maybe even some perfect timing.

For a year full of ups and downs, it is definitely ending on a major upswing. I feel like right now is one of those moments when the sun's rays are bursting through and a bright, new future is finally in reach.

The future has never looked brighter, and I can't wait to share all the good things in store with all of you--my loyal friends, family, and followers!

I hope that as you look back on this year, you can also see the beauty despite any pain or sorrow or struggles you may have endured. And I hope that you never stop believing in the beauty of your dreams!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Four or Five

It's been a while since I did this, so let's give it a shot this week!

1. Baby Girl LOVES green smoothies. Whenever I have one, she runs up with her sippy cup and says, "pease? pease?" and if I don't immediately help her get some, she starts crying, and sometimes even resorts to banging me with her cup. That girl really loves her food. And drinks. Even the healthy stuff.

2. SonA stayed up reading Julie Berry's SPLURCH ACADEMY: Rat Brain Fiasco under his covers with a flashlight a couple weeks ago (he shares a room with his brother so he was trying not to wake him up). He read the whole book in one night! If you knew my seven-year-old son, you'd know how awesome this was. He's suddenly turned into an avid reader--staying up every night reading under his covers. I love it!

3. When I was his age, I would read until eleven or midnight almost every night, and sometimes until one or two in the morning. I've always been an avid reader, so it makes me that much happier to see him enjoying it so much now.

4. I finally bit the bullet and created an "author page" on FB. Right now I feel like a poseur. "Hey, come like my author page because hopefully I'll have a book published soon!" But, you never know. Maybe I'll have good news to share sooner than later. I certainly hope so!

5. SonA is obsessed with River Monsters. He's home sick from school with strep throat (probably going to have to get those tonsils out over the Christmas break, if the surgeon can fit him in...) and he's watching it right now. He also loves Swamp Wars and World's Deadliest. Despite all of that, he still really wants a pet snake. It's scary how much he reminds me of myself as a child. (Yes, I loved nature shows, and yes, I wanted a snake.)

So those are my random thoughts for the day right now. What's on your mind today? Spill it in the comments! And happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Best Writing Advice

Today you'll find me over at YA Muses talking about the best writing advice I've ever received. This was a hard one to narrow down, but ultimately I kept coming back to the same thing. Want to find out what I had to say? Hop on over and find out!

Thanks to the lovely Veronica Rossi for asking me to be a part of the blog! If you haven't read her book UNDER THE NEVER SKY yet, you better go do it right now. It's good, you guys. Like INCREDIBLY AMAZING GO-BUY-IT-RIGHT-NOW good.

Gorgeous, right? So original and wonderful, go forth and buy and read.

And hope you'll go over and check out my guest post and comment, so I don't feel like a total loser who doesn't have any comments! :P

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Double the Awesomeness

It's been a busy week for my amazingly talented friends, so you get a double helping of excitement in this post:

First up is the book launch for Ally Condie's final book in the MATCHED trilogy: REACHED!

 My friend Stacey (who runs the My Pile Of Books blog) and I went to dinner first to celebrate my signing with Josh--yummy food and a wonderful friend = so much fun!

 Then we headed up to the launch party for Ally's final book! Ally is such a humble, kind, amazing person. It was so surreal to stand there in line, staring at the box set of all THREE of her books, and thinking about how far she's come since I first met her four and a half years ago, when I got to read MATCHED for the first time. It couldn't have happened to a better person. So happy for you Ally, hope you have a great time on tour! For an awesome recap of the night, check out Stacey's blog post HERE.
 They even brought the big bubble from BEA for us to get our pictures in, so here we are, trying to break free!
 Oh no! The Society took Stacey, now I'm all alone in the Uprising! If you don't already follow Ally, here's the link to her blog as well.

Okay, so that was awesomeness part the first. Ready for the second??

Feast your eyes on this:
My friend Jenn Johansson's book cover got revealed today! Isn't it totally creeptastic?? Scary and yet beautiful (those eyes!) all at once. It's perfect! Congrats Jenn! To learn more about her book and to follow her (both of which you should do RIGHT NOW) go to her blog HERE.

And now, for anyone still reading this... a BONUS bit of awesomeness:

Yep, that's Michael Phelps. My hubby got to hang out and chat with him last week on a business trip. Rough life, huh? Yeah, I agree.

Any exciting awesomeness going on for you or your friends this week?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Traditional picture

It's tradition to take a picture of an author signing their agency agreement, right? (Even if it's the second time?) So here I am, all grins, signing away!

It's just been over a week, and I already adore my agent. (Can I say that about my agent if he's a guy? Well, I do. And don't worry, SHH totally approves.) (For any new followers SHH = Super Hot Hubby.)

Josh is basically a ninja. Actually, he literally is a ninja--he has a second-degree black belt. But he's totally a ninja agent, too. I'm so excited to see what we are able to accomplish together!

I have so many things to be grateful for this month, and having signed with Josh is definitely one of the things at the top of my list, along with my beautiful family, and a roof over my head with electricity, running water, and heat.

What are you grateful for right now?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Today is a very rough day for so many people, I thought I'd post about something happy to help take our minds off of it for just a moment. Feast your eyes upon this:
Isn't that cover to die for?? I just love the covers of Brodi's books.

And I love her books even more. (Which is always a great thing when you're friends with the author--to truly, madly, deeply love their books.) ;-)

I was lucky enough to nab a copy of EVERBOUND in a local ARC tour, and I devoured it in one day (I drove my three kids up to Idaho that day, so that's really saying something that I squeezed it in). And for all of you Cole fans out there? Let your little hearts start racing right now, because you get TONS of Cole in this book. And even those haters out there, you might start rethinking your feelings about him...

I don't want to be spoilery, so I won't say much more except to tell you that you should definitely put this on your TBR pile or go pre-order it right now. Brodi did an amazing job with her sequel, and now I'm dying for the last book! (Can I somehow bribe you to let me read it? Chocolate covered cinnamon bears? Gluten-free Thai food??) Ah, well, can't blame a girl for trying.

Great job, Brodi!

My thoughts and prayers are with all those struggling right now back east, I hope you all stay safe, dry, and healthy--and that the recovery process from this devastating storm can be as quick and painless as possible for as many as possible. <3 p="p">

Friday, October 26, 2012

News! (And it's mine this time)

Wow. I'm not going to lie, there were times over the last nine months when I really thought I'd never get to write this post. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while probably noticed that in February, I quietly took the name of my agent off of my bio. I never made a public announcement that I had decided to part ways with her, but I'm sure most of you have figured it out by now. It was a gut-wrenching decision, and one it took me a looong time to make, for many reasons. The biggest being that she was so nice, and had worked hard on my behalf, and still believed in my books. But sometimes, things just don't work out the way you hope, and over time, you realize that even though you're both nice, professional people, you aren't the best match to be working together. But it was so hard to actually do it--especially because it had been so hard to get an agent the first time. I had really amazing family and friends (some who had been where I was and things worked out great for them the second time around) that encouraged me, and believed in me.

So I did it. I wrote her and waited my thirty days and then I was officially un-agented again. I was freaking out.

And then I started querying. I got requests. I started to feel hopeful. Until the rejections came in. Ouch, those really hurt. Especially when I'm questioning myself the whole time: why did I do this? Why am I querying agents again when I could be on sub with editors?? And the rejections were all the same: your writing is excellent, this story is great, but the timing is wrong.

In the meantime, we had a terrible tragedy in our family. Again, for all who've followed me for a while, you'll remember what happened at the end of February (right when my thirty days were almost up): we lost Josh to cancer.

I was in a dark place. I was full of grief. The stark reality of death for someone so young was hard to bear. But out of that grief came two books: I started them within a week of each other, but ended up putting aside the fantasy (which is what I usually write to some degree), and focused on the light sci-fi (something I'd never attempted before), because I thought the timing might be better. I finished that book, revised it, and when it became clear the book I was querying was just not going to make it because the timing wasn't right, I switched and began to query the light sci-fi one, FINDING JANE.

I got requests. LOTS of requests. I got such amazing feedback, but after four months, still no offers. During that time, I was trying to write the fantasy, but man... that book just didn't want to come out. As the months wore on, I was as low as could be. (You may recall a post or two about that, and me trying to overcome it.) I have hit rock bottom quite a few times on this LOOOOONG journey of mine. And every time I think I can't get lower. But then I do. But everytime, not matter how bad it is, I somehow drag myself up and keep going. This last time was the closest I've been to actually quitting. To walking away--forever. But I didn't. As I wrote about in September, I kept going, and I finished my fantasy, DAUGHTER OF WAR.

I sent it out to beta's. I waited. I read my feedback. I made myself think about it, mull it over, and then attack my revision with everything I had. I knew this book was special. I knew it was the best thing I'd ever written, and I needed to do it justice.

When there wasn't anything else to do to make it better on my own, I knew it was time to start querying. That was Monday of last week. On Tuesday night, I queried an amazing agent who requested the full in ten minutes. I was cautiously excited.

And then. The NEXT DAY--only about fifteen hours later--I got an email from this agent. I pulled over to read it (I was on the way to drop my son off at preschool). And I started screaming, laughing and crying all at once. We spoke that night and I was just blown away by her enthusiasm and love for my book.

But there were also other agents who had it, and who ended up interested in my book. I'll be honest, I've dreamt of being the girl with multiple offers from agents (it didn't happen the first time). It was so exciting and wonderful--but it was also SO hard. I really loved more than one agent, and I was so torn. But I knew after speaking to one particular agent that he was the right choice. Everything just clicked when I spoke to him and in our subsequent emails.

So it is with great excitement and happiness that I get to announce that I am now represented by the amazing JOSH ADAMS of Adams Literary!!!

This is has been such a long journey, and ended up in such a whirlwind this last week, my head is still spinning. But I am so excited for this new direction in my career and for all that lies ahead. I can't wait to share DAUGHTER OF WAR with you all--hopefully sooner than later!

Monday, October 22, 2012

TRANSPARENT Cover love!!

You guys!

My friend, the amazingly talented, wonderful Natalie Whipple has given us all a reason to celebrate the fact that it's Monday. She gave us this:

Isn't it AMAZING???!?!!!!

This book is incredible (is it on your TBR pile yet? Have you pre-ordered it yet? NO?? GO. Do it. I promise you'll thank me!) and the cover is just perfect.

I'm so excited for you Natalie! I can't wait for you to get to share your awesome book with the world!

Now go over to her blog and tell her congrats! :-)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Heartbroken and a lesson learned--again

This is the same post I put on the Kindness Project blog--my first post there. But I wanted to share it here, too. And for some reason I thought I was supposed to post on Monday, but it wasn't until Wednesday, so this one is up a couple of days early. Oops. So now it's all messed up and this is posting two days before the other one. Maybe I'll end up changing the other one after all. Basically I'm just a mess at the moment. And you'll soon see why. Anyway, I was so excited to do a big, inspirational post. Share some powerful quotes, maybe a life experience or two.

And then something happened. And I have to apologize up front, because this is kind of long.

If you've read our bios on the TKPblog or on here, you'll notice that my sweet little dog Charlie is mentioned in mine. That's because he's such a part of my family and my life. I've had him since I was sixteen. On Thursday of last week, he was attacked by a deer. Yes, a deer. So here's my public safety announcement for anyone else out there like me who thinks does are docile and sweet: They. Are. Not. They are dangerous and you need to keep your pets and children away from them.

I was there for the whole thing. I let Charlie outside to do his business and looked out to see him and a deer standing by each other. They were kind of sniffing at each other, following each other around a little bit. I never in a million years thought a deer--a doe--would attack my tiny, little 7 lbs maltese (who was doing nothing more than wagging his tail and being friendly). But all of a sudden, she lunged at him. And I said, "that was weird--she looked like she was going to attack him." And before I could even finish my thought, she did just that--she attacked. She lunged up on her rear legs and then crushed him to the ground with her front hooves. I screamed and banged on the door, desperately trying to get my son out of the way so I could open it and save my dog. I thought the noise would scare her, but no, she just kept going and going, rearing up and crushing him again and again. I ran at her, screaming and throwing my arms to scare her off, because she wouldn't stop. I ended up having to hit her in the side to save my sweet Charlie before she stopped and sort of trotted off. I thought he would be dead when I knelt down beside him on the damp grass and scooped him into my arms.

But miraculously, he wasn't. He was alive and as sweet as ever. During the whole attack and after he never, not once, snapped, barked, whined or anything. I was shaking and crying sure that he was dying, even though there was no blood and he acted okay. How could he survive being struck over and over by a deer's hooves?

But he did. His x-rays were clear, no broken bones, no internal bleeding. They kept him overnight for observation, but sent him home on Friday with painkillers, calling him the miracle dog. And he was. He was such a fighter.

But you might have caught that word. "Was." Because that night, he started struggling to breathe. We took him to the 24-hr emergency vet, and they put him on oxygen. By morning, he was really struggling. My husband was at work already, and I was home with my kids, so my sweet dad went to get him and transfer him back up to our normal vet and was going to let me know how he was doing and if I needed to get a babysitter so I could come be with him. When he pulled into the parking lot, ten minutes before they opened, Charlie took two gasping, coughing breaths, and stopped breathing.

My dad slammed the car into park, scooped Charlie up and ran. When he burst throught the doors, yelling that my dog had stopped breathing, the techs jumped into action. And in a stroke of providence, the vet had come a few minutes early for the day--she was literally walking through the door when they put Charlie on the table and started trying to bring him back. His heart had stopped. He was gone. But that sweet vet gave him CPR and brought my Charlie back. My dad called me, and told me I needed to come right away. There was no one to watch my kids though, and I didn't know what to do. My sister and my sweet neighbors jumped into action, helping me find someone to help out. I rushed over and got to be with my sweet little puppy one last time. The vet told us dogs that were in as bad as shape as he was, and are as old as he was, don't come back. Once their hearts stop, they don't start back up. But my Charlie fought, and came back. At first I thought he came back because he wanted to survive--but in the next couple of hours, it became clear he came back so I could say goodbye.

His lungs were full of fluid, his heart was failing. Old age and the deer attack were too much for my sweet boy. But he came back for me. I held him, and once he started struggling to breathe even with the oxygen, I finally knew. I'd been struggling all morning, not knowing if we should keep fighting to save him and prolongue his suffering if it didn't work, or if we should let him go. But when he started having a hard time breathing with a 100% oxygen mask on, I knew he wasn't going to make it. And for the first time since the attack, he whined. He was in so much pain. I held him as they gave him the sedative, as they eased his spirit out of my arms, into those on the other side waiting for him.

His lungs were full of fluid, his heart was failing. Old age and the deer attack were too much for my sweet boy. But he came back for me. I held him, and once he started struggling to breathe even with the oxygen, I finally knew. I'd been struggling all morning, not knowing if we should keep fighting to save him and prolongue his suffering if it didn't work, or if we should let him go. But when he started having a hard time breathing with a 100% oxygen mask on, I knew he wasn't going to make it. And for the first time since the attack, he whined. He was in so much pain. I held him as they gave him the sedative, and as they eased him out of my arms, into those on the other side waiting for him.

Me, Trav and Charlie when we'd been married for just over a year. Boy are we babies!

Why am I sharing all of this? Because kindness for me this weekend was in the form of my father, who went above and beyond to help me, to help my Charlie. It was in the loving way my husband made him a casket and helped me bury him beneath a beautiful tree. It was in the kindness the vet showed me, in the way she hugged me, holding her arm around me when I first came in to the room to see him on the table getting worked on. It was in my neighbors and friends and family, helping to watch my children, sending me kind messages, letting me know they understood and cared why I was so upset, even though he was "just a dog."

And it was in the tender mercy of having Charlie come back so I could hold him one last time, alive. Have you ever thought about how amazing dogs are? That no matter what happens, or how they're treated, they always are ready to lick your hand, to curl up in your lap, to snuggle in your arms. At least, my Charlie always was. I loved him so much and I will miss him so much. He was never just a dog to me. He was my comfort, my sweetheart, my cute little puppy who would always give me loves when boys broke my heart growing up, who layed his head on my belly when I was pregnant with my first son, who let my kids pull on him and play with him and never bit them or snapped at them. He was a part of our family.

When he got older we eventually stopped torturing him with costumes. But he's pretty cute as Santa's reindeer, don't you think?

Do yourself a kindness and don't take for granted anyone or anything in your life. Because they could be taken from you at any minute. For anyone who has been following my blog, you'll remember how we found that out earlier this year with my cousin's husband getting taken from us because of cancer at the age of twenty-four. We found it out again this weekend with Charlie. And then, shortly after all of this happened, we found out that a friend of mine and my sisters' lost her son in a drowning accident while she was out of town. She had to fly back home knowing she was going to say goodbye to her son, who was on life support just so she could get there and see him one last time. As hard as it was to lose Charlie, I am SO grateful it wasn't one of my children who got attacked by the deer--because it could have been. It's been a VERY hard, sad weekend.

I took SonA to visit him at the vet when we were still hoping he'd pull through...

Since I joined this project, I've tried very hard to make a conscious decision to be kind--even to people who aren't kind to me. Who maybe don't "deserve" it. One thing that helps me is to think, "What if this were that person's last day on earth? What if I knew they were going to die tomorrow? How would I treat her (or him)?" And when I remember to think that way, it's amazing how differently I feel and act toward others.

So here's what I keep learning over and over again in many different ways: Show kindness to everyone, including yourself. Because you just never know when that chance you had to do something, anything, might have been your last.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Kindness Project BLOG!!

Yes, you read that right -- we are now making a separate blog for The Kindness Project, and it is launching TODAY! Please go over there, check it out, and follow! We will all be taking turns posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; sharing our triumphs and failures, our hopes and thoughts and wishes, as we all strive to incorporate more kindness into our lives. We hope you will join with us and help spread the word.

You can also follow The Kindness Project on Facebook and on Twitter!

I am so excited be a part of this with some of the most amazing, kind, wonderful people I'm privileged to have in my life.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


In case you hadn't heard yet, my amazingly talented friend Renee Collins has some AWESOME news to share. (Yes, THAT news!)


Guys, I seriously LOVE this book. I'm so excited for you, Renee! Now I can finally shout about it from the mountain tops!! Magic and the old west and Relics and hot boys.... oh my. It. is. SO. GOOD.

(Yes, this deserves lots and lots of exclamation points. Don't judge.)

(Me and Ren at LDStorymakers in May)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When is enough, enough?

Have you ever felt like quitting? I don't mean a passing thought because things are hard at the moment. I've been there, and conquered those thoughts pretty easily. I don't even mean closing your computer and stepping back for a day or a week or even a month. I've had to do that, too.

 I mean the type of gut-wrenching, soul searching that leaves you feeling hollow inside. As though you're considering killing forever a part of yourself--part of what makes you who you are.

I have.

I almost did.

Guys, this hasn't been an easy road for me. I kept thinking, I'll wait to talk about how hard things have been for the day when things turn around. I'll wait until I have good news to share so I can say, "See? I didn't give up and now I made it!"

That hasn't happened yet.

But something else did. I looked myself--truly looked at myself, in all my imperfect glory. I stared at the hole that would have opened up inside of me if I truly did give up--forever. I wasn't just talking about taking a break. I'm not good at breaks. I push myself too hard, I expect too much. I was seriously considering giving in to the self-doubt and the pain and the frustration and walking away forever. I knew if I made that decision, it would be final. I'm not a quitter, and to have seriously considered it, I knew it would be something I would have to do 100%. I'd have to completely close off that part of my life, or it would hurt too much.

I tried to decide which would be worse. Would having that hole in my heart, that black, gaping tear in my soul from truly failing (by quitting) be worse? Or would the ongoing hurt from the continual rejection, the pain of feeling like I was never good enough, the seemingly never-ending frustration of always having bad timing, be worse?

I stared at those two, stark realities and I made a decision. I fought through the blackness, I forced myself to keep writing. Because I can't bear not to. I can't bear the thought of having fought for this dream to become reality for six years (after writing books and dreaming of being published my whole life), only to give up now. Are there other roads I could take to be published, to get my books out there? Yes, of course there are. I have good friends who have taken other paths and are very happy with them. But for me, right now, I still want to pursue traditional publishing with a major publisher.

And I refuse to give up. I refuse to quit.

I wish this had a happy ending: and because I didn't quit, now I have _____!! But that hasn't happened yet. What I do have, is a book that I finished by sheer determination, driven by the love for writing that just wouldn't die, no matter how much I wanted it to. I have a story that wouldn't come out for months, driving me absolutely crazy--until I finally figured out what needed to happen, and then the last 40k flew out of my mind and through my fingers in just under a week.

I have a new book that I love, a book that I am so excited about, I can hardly stand it.

And I have renewed hope.

For now, that will have to be enough. And someday, I'll have good news to share. Because I didn't quit.

What about you? Have you ever reached that point? If so, how did you overcome it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Anyone still out there?

So. Um. Yeah. You may have noticed a long stretch of silence on the good ol' blog here. It wasn't on purpose, I wasn't intending to take a break from my blog. But life has been kind of hectic recently and something had to give. It was just going to be one or two missed posts. And then... well. Yeah. It turned into a month.

Anyway... if anyone is still out there reading this, I'm interupting this unscheduled absence of posts to bring you an announcement about what sounds like a really awesome new blog! Nope, it's not mine, and I'm not involved in it. But my cute friend Chersti is, and I wanted to help her spread the word:

One group. One goal. Get published.

Writer Therapy webisodes will be airing Thursday, Sept. 20.

For any writer who has aspired to be published, or any reader who has wanted a “behind the scenes” look at the writing process, Writer Therapy launches their first two online webisodes. The web series follows the life and laughs of a critique group as they (try to) finish their manuscripts and get published. Each webisode runs between 4-10 minutes in length, with twelve webisodes comprising the first season. The first season kicks off with Chersti, a recent college grad who has just finished her first manuscript. Fortunately, she has her critique group to help her through the querying process. Though the groups’ crazy antics—including everything from stalking famous authors to striking out on a personal quest—might deter from them actually writing, it is perfect research for their books, which will obviously be the BIGGEST thing since Harry Potter or Hunger Games.

Webisodes for season one will air consecutively on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in September-October. Special guest stars include authors Dan Wells, Brandon Mull and more! More information can be found on the Writer Therapy website at www.writertherapy.com .

Contest information

With the launch of the new website, Writer Therapy is hosting a 250-word contest starting September 10 through September 29. Winners will receive a query critique from agents Sara Crowe or Molly Ker Hawn, or a 1st chapter critique from agent Nicole Resciniti. Details can be found on here: http://www.writertherapy.com/blog/2012/09/10/first-page-contest/

Awesome, right?? Hop on over and check it out!

As for me, I will attempt to return to the world of blogging soon. And there are some exciting developments coming for THE KINDNESS PROJECT soon, too, so watch for that announcement!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Kindness Project - August

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.

Wow, I can't believe it's already been another month! We have some exciting new stuff coming up with The Kindness Project, and I can't wait to share it all with you! The response to this movement has been amazing, and every month more and more people want to join us. That's what this is all about. Spreading kindness, spreading awareness, helping us to make concerted efforts to do good. Just like Carol posted about (and even got some ink for!): DO GOOD ANYWAY.

You want to know the honest truth? A lot of the time people don't reciprocate kindness. But you know what? That's okay. DO GOOD ANYWAY. Because you never know the long term effects your kindness might have. Maybe not the first time, or second time, or fiftieth time. But someday, somehow, maybe it will cause a change. And if not, you changed yourself, and really, that's the most important thing of all.

Another hard truth? It's difficult to be kind to everyone. We all know that person--the one who is amazingly sweet and wonderful to some people, and as mean as all get out to others. I don't want to be that person. I want to be that other person we all know--the one who is kind to everyone. The person that no one can think of anything bad to say (except for, "seriously, she can't really be that wonderful, can she??" haha). This is a tall order for me. I'm far from being that second person. But hopefully with each passing day, week, month, I am getting closer to person #2 and less like person #1.

Something that helps me is to try and live my life with this thought in mind:
"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again."
Og Mandino

That is powerful. Because the honest truth is that you never know. You never know how much time there is. This life is so uncertain and I never want to suffer from the pain of regret. So regardless of who you are or how you've treated me or whether you like me or hate me, I'm going to do my darndest to find the good in you. To treat you with kindness. TO DO GOOD ANYWAY.

See what everyone else is posting about today:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Done and done

Remember that half-marathon I was super nervous for last Friday? It's over. Yay!

 Me and Lauren carb loading at The OG on Friday night

I couldn't sleep Friday night. And then my alarm went off at 3:35 and it was time to get up and get ready and go. Every time I go for a long run, or have to roll out of bed in the middle of the night for a race, I think... "Why am I doing this? I'm never doing this again."

And then you get to the parking lot with thousands of other crazy people like yourself, and you start to get excited. By the time you're lined up at the starting line, the adrenaline is pumping and I remember why I'm doing this again.

 After the race -- we did it!
 I was so excited to have my family cheering for me as I sprinted to the finish line! (My mom and other sister were there, too, but we didn't get a pic with them.)

And guess what?? I finished in under 2 hours! I have never been a runner, except for short distance sprints until this last year. I used to try and run with my mom when I was a teenager and in my early twenties, and I would be fine for about a mile... and then I'd start to taste blood in my throat and my side would kill and my knees would kill (I do have bad knees), and I'd pretty much limp the rest of the way home. It was pathetic.

But then my mom and my sister ran a half marathon together and I thought, I want to do that! If they can do it, I can do it!

I ran my first race (a 10k) the month I got pregnant with Baby Girl, less than 2 years ago. The last couple of miles were so hard, but I made myself finish. The minute I crossed that finish line, the pain was gone, the exhaustion was gone, I was completely exhilarated. That sense of accomplishment was incredible--it was such a high. And I got hooked. But I also got pregnant. And had all sorts of complications and eventually got put on bedrest. So the running had to be put on hold. After I had her, I knew exercise was a great treatment for my PPD, and I kept thinking about that high from finishing my 10k. Feeling brave (and also wanting motivation) I decided to sign up for the Halloween Half, 4 months and 1 day after she was born. I did a couple of posts about that, and how hard it was, but what an amazing feeling it was to finish my first half-marathon. I did it in 2:27 or so.

Now, less than a year later, I shaved almost 29 minutes off my time! So you can see why I am so excited! But unfortunately, my cute sis is going back to college and the ballet program, so she has to stop running and get back into ballet-shape. Maybe sometime in the future we'll get to be running partners again. But for now, I'm just so thrilled that I reached this goal. I CAN do hard things! Because trust me, that was a HARD run by the end. I just forced myself to keep going, to keep pushing, knowing the end was near. And I've been feeling it all weekend. My left knee felt like someone hit my with a sledgehammer all day on Saturday. It's quite a bit better now, thankfully.

Forcing myself to keep going, to keep pushing, and achieving that goal taught me a lot about myself. About my body. About the power of my mind. About the strength of my will.

Remember that post from last week, about how I AM an author, because I will never give up, I will always write--no matter what results I get? I guess, now I can say, I AM a runner, too. I may never run a half in the 1:30's or 1:20's like some of my friends, but for the girl who couldn't run more than a mile not too long ago, I'm so excited for where I am.

What goal have you accomplished that you're proud of?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Return of the Friday Four or Five

So, it's been a while since I've done this, but it used to be a regular feature on my blog. I figured I'd try to be better at doing it again. Here's what's on my mind today...

1. My third half marathon is tomorrow morning and I am really nervous. You'd think I'd be getting progressively less nervous for each race, rather than having it get worse. Well, you'd be wrong. I could barely sleep last night (which doesn't bode well for tonight, when I know my alarm is going to be going off at 3:30 am). Then Baby Girl decided to wake up at 6:30am. I'm tired, my stomach is all icky with nerves, and the race isn't even until tomorrow. Heh.
Me and my cute sister Lauren who I'm running the race with. She's a Speedy McSpeedster, so that might be a big part of why I'm so nervous... 

2. I went to Kiersten White's signing for ENDLESSLY at The King's English last night after our packet pick up. I can't believe her trilogy is done! So happy for her and excited to find out how Evie's story ends!
Me (looking like a giant, even though I wore flat shoes) and the hysterical and cute Kiersten White. 

Me (crouching down so I don't look like a giant again) and the wonderfully talented and super darling Natalie Whipple. Her book comes out in May and trust me, you want to put TRANSPARENT on your TBR list asap. It's SO SO good. 

Me, my cute sister, and Stacey from My Pile of Books (and my sweet friend)

3. I finally got a chance to read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson. I'd heard so many good things about this book and it definitely lived up to the hype. I can't wait for the sequel to come out in September!

4. Thank you all for your amazing response to my last post. Your comments, tweets, rt's, FB messages, and emails meant more to me than I can express. It's so wonderful to know that we're not alone and that so many of us share the same emotions and struggles--and hopefully triumphs someday, too. So, again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

5. Did I mention I'm nervous for tomorrow? And that I'm already exhausted? Heh, heh. Not good. Wish me luck.... pretty sure I'm going to need it.

So, tell me, what's on your mind today?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am an Author

This post was kind of scary to write, and I'm still not sure I should post it. I don't often open up about the struggles I'm going through on my blog. I try to keep it upbeat, fun, positive and all that jazz. But let's face the truth: this business can be really hard.

So, here it is. I have a confession to make. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I am very self-deprecating. I tend to deal with disappointments with sarcasm. Am I breaking apart inside? Am I crushed, upset, hurting? Well, let's make a joke at my own expense, get everyone to laugh. Deflect the real pain that's there.

It's probably not a great way to deal with things.

I am surrounded by authors. Amazing, talented, successful authors. I am really good friends with a lot of them, and I have the incredible good fortune of being CPs/beta readers with or for many of them (which means I get to read their insanely good books long before they hit a shelf). I am so lucky and I love them all. It truly is a blessing to have so many blow-your-mind talented friends. This may seem like a tangent, but bear with me for a minute.

The problem is that I haven't reached that point yet--I don't have a book deal, I don't have a book on a shelf, so I don't feel legit. Sometimes, I let my own self-doubt and worry and insecurity lead me to tell myself that I don't really belong. That I'm not a "real author yet."

I make a joke out of it, but it's to cover up my embarrassment, my shame that I've been working tirelessly at this for six years and still don't have a book deal. I have a sweet, wonderfully talented friend who was querying with me back in the fall of 2009. I'd already been in the query trenches for quite some time (okay, a couple of years) and this was her first foray back into them for a long time. (She'd been published by a smaller, local publisher and was seeking national representation for her new book.) Well, here we are years later and her entire trilogy is going to be published this November, and I still don't even have a publishing deal. I often feel like a failure. I've come SO close. Like, seriously, you can't believe how close... but in the end, nothing has worked out yet.

I am still not published. And so I joke and say that I'm not a real author yet. That I don't really belong, but maybe someday... maybe.

Well, guess what? I AM a real author. I've written books. I've actually written a LOT of books. And someday they will be published. Maybe not all of them, but at least some. And I have more books yet to be written. I write every day. I will continue to write, because whether or not I get a book deal this year, or in five years, or never--writing is part of me. There are some really bad days when I say I wish I could just quit. But no matter how bad it gets, or how much I wish I could quit, I can't because writing won't quit me. 

Writing is part of me. It's more than just something I love to do, it's something I have to do.

So, I am an author. And hopefully someday you will be able to see my name on a shelf. But if not, I will still be an author, because no matter what happens, I won't ever stop writing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What do you do?

I'm a fast writer. Or, at least, I used to be.

 I don't say that to brag, because fast doesn't equal good or better or anything other than the fact that the speed with which I write my manuscripts is pretty quick. I also edit and revise fast. And I read fast, too. Cue random tangent down memory lane: In fact, when I was in middle school, my summer break was filled with books. I would go to the library and check out a stack of books so high I could barely lift them. Then I'd go through them so fast, I was often back the same week to return them and find new ones. I'd read at least one, sometimes two or three books a day. I also was on swim and dive team and had friends and other stuff, so I wasn't just locked in my room reading 24/7. I was just... fast.

So. Why am I telling you this?

Because these last few weeks... I have hit a wall. And I am the dead opposite of fast. My new WIP started off normal. I busted out about 40 pages in a few days, maybe five or six. It was back in February or March, so I don't remember. Then I got this OTHER idea and I ran with that one instead. I wrote that book, edited and revised and edited and revised, all the while toying with my previous idea here and there.

Well, now the second book is done and out of my hands. So I'm back to working on the first one. Right now I'm on page 53. That's 13 pages in about, oh, a month. PEOPLE. What is wrong with me??

Granted, I've been taking kind of a philosophical journey of sorts. (See Renee for more details on what that means.) But still. I should be doing better than 13 pages in this amount of time.

What do you do when you're stuck? Or when the words just won't flow?

I think a lot of it is stemming from insecurity. I'm really worried that I'm just not good enough--that maybe I never will be. And it's putting a major block on my ability to create. But I sit down and force myself to keep going. I want this to be a career, so I treat it like it is one already. I put in the time, no matter how easy or hard it is. But recently, it's been downright painful. To only eek out a few paragraphs in an hour? It makes me want to throw my computer against a wall. Or my head. Or something. But instead I take a deep breath and go to bed and tell myself, "Tomorrow it'll come back. Tomorrow will be a better day."

I'm still telling myself that, hoping it'll be true one of these days. Once inspiration hits, I can knock a first draft out in a couple of weeks, or a month. I know I CAN do it. If inspiration like that hits again, like it usually (eventually) does. But if not? I will just keep on writing my page a day and eventually, I'll have another manuscript completed.

Do you ever have a hard time letting the words come out? Do you ever question your ability as an author?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Seaweed by Elle Strauss!

Announcing SEAWEED by my wonderful friend, Elle Strauss! I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but I'm hoping to soon--it sounds really good. And you can't get better than FREE. If you get to it before I do, let me know what you think! Congrats Elle, I'm excited for you!

 A teen swim athlete discovers a merfolk world that threatens to keep her out of the ocean forever.

Dori Seward can’t wait to get out of Eastcove, a sleepy fishing village on the border of New Brunswick and Maine. She bides her time by hanging out with friends, attending swim club, and holding her biggest competition, Colby–who wants more than just friendship, at arm’s length. Then Tor Riley comes to town and he has everything Dori dreams of in a boyfriend–looks, athleticism and mystery. But Tor also has a tantalizing secret and Dori is determined to find out what it is. The truth is crazier than her wildest imaginations and more dangerous, too. Dori has new fantastical enemies , and they will do anything to get to her. Her life, her dreams and her love for Tor are all weighing in the balance. Will Dori risk it all in order to have it all?

 SEAWEED is FREE for a limited time on Amazon! It's also free on itunes and smashwords.

Elle Strauss writes time travel and merfolk chic-lit, light SF and historical YA fiction. To ward off writer's butt she does a bit of hiking, biking and yoga. Elle is married with four children and divides her time between British Columbia, Canada, and Germany.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Kindness Project - July

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.

When I joined this project, I had all these grandiose dreams of how my life was going to drastically alter from making a concerted effort to be kind. But it hasn't been quite like that. Instead, it's been a bunch of small changes, an overall shift in my thinking.

Instead of pretending like I didn't see that one person who isn't nice to me, I make an effort to wave or say hi.

When I get the thought to call someone or write a letter/email that I think might brighten someone's day, but I'm exhausted/busy/my kids are hanging on me/all of the above, I remember this project and I try to actually do it.

When I'm feeling down about myself, or get bad news, I try to think of who else might not be feeling great and how I could do something or say something to brighten their day.

I know I could do more. I want to do more. I'm going to do more. But at least I'm doing something. I'm trying. Even if it's in small ways.

I'm pretty sure I haven't changed anyone's life--yet. And I haven't had a drastic change in my life--yet. But over time, this shift in thinking, this concerted effort to be kind might end up having far reaching effects. A small change can set things into motion that could lead to drastic differences in my life and those around me in the future. Or at least that's my hope.

You've all heard the quote: "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

So here are my questions for you today: What is something seemingly small that you could do that might have a big impact on your life or those around you? And have you ever seen a small act of kindness or charity lead to a big change in someone's life? I'd love to find out your answers to this!

Check out what everyone is posting about today:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How did this happen?

I swear, I was in this state below (aka HUGELY PREGNANT) for approximately ten years with Baby Girl.
 It was the pregnancy that went on and on and on.
 Now I can barely believe that exactly one year ago, I started off the day looking like I did in that first picture, and ending it by staring into this beautiful face...
 And then I blinked and now she's 1!!! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???
 Having a girl has inspired me to new heights in crafty-cutesy-mommyness. (AKA, I actually tried to be crafty and cutesy at all. Because usually? Not so much. Not that my boys' parties weren't good... I just didn't put so much, um, "homemade" effort into them. Party stores were my friend. They're boys. Pretty sure they didn't care and never will that I didn't handmake their basketball or Tonka Truck birthday banners.) But I've been dreaming of Baby Girl's first birthday party for months. I knew I wanted to do butterflies as the theme, and I think it turned out about as well as I hoped! (And yes, I went blonde again for the first time in a really long time. SHH is the one that told my cute friend to make me "as blonde as you can." Still not sure if I'm going to leave it long-term. I kinda like me dark. But we'll see... Anyway. Random tangent there. Back to Baby Girl and the party of butterfly-epicosity.) (Yes, that's a word. Phrase? Something.)
 Look! I made and decorated a cake! This is almost earth-shattering enough to signal the end of the world as we know it.
 I made cute cupcake displays! (And my awesome sister helped by making the butterfly cupcake toppers. And the darling hat, too.)

 I pinned it so I did it.... Lanterns with butterflies, ceiling decorations, stringing balloons on thread (so not a great idea for an outdoor party btw). I loved how it turned out.
The girl of the hour, who daintily picked at her cake and spit it out when I tried to put some in her mouth.


Heh, just kidding. She usually loves sweet things, but for some reason, cake does not seem to be one of those things. She did the same thing in her cake smash photo shoot.

But even though she doesn't love cake, I still love her. Adore her. Am so incredibly grateful for the gift of having her in our family. Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

(Yes, I know this post had nothing to do with writing. But she is so cute, I had to let you get a peak at her special day. And also, it gave me the chance to brag about my frawsome party throwing skillz. [ok, all you people out there who have incredible parties, no laughing at me. I mean, I DECORATED a CAKE. That's a big deal for me, people. Anyway. That's all.])

Happy almost weekend! Anyone want a cupcake?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ooooh and Aahhhhh!

So, have you heard of Kasie West yet? Let me refresh your memory :
She's the beautiful one in blue with the dimples. Love her!

If you aren't already, get your butt over to her blog pronto and start following. Then go HERE to see the cover for her amazing book PIVOT POINT.

The premise for this book is absolutely amazing. The cover is gorgeous. Like drool over it, wanna pet it, can't wait to own it and stare at it and pet it some more GORGEOUS. And the book itself? Even better. If you haven't added this one to your TBR yet, you'd better do it NOW.

Congrats Kasie!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Phwew! That was heavy...

Do you remember that phrase from Back to the Future? It was supposed to be all cool and futuristic. And now that movie is so old, most of my target audience for my books (YA) probably have never even seen it.

Anyway, the point is.... wow, that post yesterday was heavy. And yet you guys completely and totally lifted me up. THANK YOU so much for every comment and email. I can't begin to tell you how much it meant to me. Hugs for everyone! Unless you don't like hugs. Or if you're shorter than me and then that awkward moment happens when your face is in an inopportune location and I have to kind of shlump down and it's just totally lame. Let's just throw out cupcakes instead. CAKE FOR EVERYONE!

And you know what? I was sick to my stomach about posting that yesterday morning, but by the afternoon, I was so much happier. And then last night, as I was driving my three amazing kids home from SonA's baseball tournament (the last sporting event for two months until soccer starts up again!! YAY!!), we had the windows rolled down, Muse (Best. Music. EVER.) was blasting, and we were all rocking out. It was a perfect moment. We were laughing, dancing, singing. The wind was blowing through the car, the sun was setting, it was amazing.

So you know what? Yes, sometimes life is hard. Sometimes things don't go how we hope. Sometimes I'm not as kind as I want to be, and sometimes others are not kind to me. BUT. Life is beautiful. There is joy to be found in the journey every day.

I am grateful for how sad I was when I wrote that post yesterday morning, because it made the joy of driving home with my family that much sweeter last night.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Kindness Project - JUNE

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.

Disclaimer: this is long and not very uplifting, so feel free to not read this post. Seriously. You've been warned.

So you know that part in our mission statement about "reach out even we aren't feeling entirely whole...?" That's me right now. More days than not recently, I haven't been feeling whole. In fact, I have been feeling like I am full of holes, with my good intentions and hopes and dreams leaking (sometimes gushing) out of me. I've been debating all week whether or not to tell everyone in this amazing group that I couldn't post this month. Because the honest truth is that I don't feel like I deserve to. I have tried every day to focus on this project, particularly when I've heard someone is in need or feeling down. I've tried to reach out and help others, even when it wasn't convenient for me. But I still feel like I've failed in many ways to truly embody the goal of this group. There are two big reasons why, but part of my struggle with this post is deciding how personal to get. I don't know for sure who does or doesn't read my blog in my circle of "real life" friends, family, and acquaintances, and I don't want to put in enough detail to cause anyone embarrassment or point any fingers. So let's try and keep it really vague, shall we?

How do you show kindness to people who often are unkind--even purposefully cruel--but are a permanent part of your life? This is a question that I have been struggling with all month. And unfortunately, I have more often than not tried to just avoid those people, rather than make an effort to be kind to them. Part of my excuse was that being kind is a double-edge sword in this case, because in the past, the majority of my efforts of kindness have been rewarded with more meanness.

The second part of my failure has been more in my internal thought processes than any outward manifestation. I am having a very hard time being kind to myself right now, and I think to be able to show true kindness to others, you have to first be loving and happy with yourself. And right now? I'm struggling with that, on so many levels. My internal dialogue is full of negativity at myself, if I'm being totally honest. I'm always surprised when people tell me "you seem so confident!" "I was so glad to hear that you doubt yourself, because you seem like you're so knowledgeable/sure of yourself/etc." I have done acting in the past, I even got to say, "They go to Hell, sir!" (in a British accent) in Jane Eyre, the Musical at a local professional theater (I know, right? I'm, like, practically famous), but I must be an even better actress than I thought! Because I am a mess of insecurities.

While everyone around me continues to have good news and more good news and happy, wonderful news (and I am genuinely so so very happy for them, and they know that!!); I, on the other hand, do not. In fact, I often feel as thought I'm falling further and further behind while everyone else is scaling (sometimes flying) over the mountains I'm trying to climb. And not just publishing mountains (although that is one big sucker and sometimes I feel like I'm barely clinging on), but in other ways, too. As a mom, as an athlete, and more.

Some of these doubts are self-inflicted and others stem from the doubts put there by others--including the people I hinted at before. Some come from having to adjust my expectations of life, based on things out of my control. Like the fact that I absolutely adore babies, and I've always wanted a BIG family. I'm talking 5, 6, maybe even 7 kids. But life has a different plan for me, and I am having to adjust to the fact that my sweet, beautiful Baby Girl is going to be my last. She's going to be 1 in just a couple of weeks, and the realization that she's getting so big, so fast, and that I will never again have a sweet baby of my own to cuddle takes my breath away, and leaves me feeling hollow. And then I think of others who can only have one, or maybe can't have any children at all, and I feel even worse. Because I am SO grateful for the three children I have, and I shouldn't feel sad that we can't have more. I shouldn't dare complain. I hated people like me when I was going through infertility. "Oh boo, poor her with her three, beautiful children." We went through infertility and loss, I know the pain and agony of that trial--and I know how lucky we are to have the three children that we do. There were times when it looked like SonA would be our only child. And yet, I still struggle. I'm being decidely unkind to myself about my inability to follow through on this goal and dream. And how is that helping me or anyone else at all? It's not.

I guess I always try to be so positive and upbeat on my blog, but I decided maybe I should just be honest. And I'm not always like this. But this has been a hard month, and so there you have it.
Man, this post is hard. I keep writing stuff and then deleting it. And I'm pretty sure these are intended to be inspiring and I'm thinking this post is anything but that. I probably should have just decided to not post this month and try harder in June so I had something to write for July. Oh well, too late for that!

So, yeah, massive #sarafail in the Kindness department this month.

Let's just say this: making a conscious effort to be extraordinarily kind is hard sometimes. And it involves taking risk. And it opens you up to being hurt sometimes, too. But I'm still going to keep trying.

Check out these (probably much more inspiring) posts from the other members of this group:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SURRENDER Launch Party!

Last night was the launch party for Elana Johnson's latest book, SURRENDER. I love living so close to so many amazing authors and other incredible people. 

For example, my beautiful and amazingly talented friend Erin Summerill--she of the photog skills spoken of in legend and hushed voices, she who now has photo credits on multiple agent blogs, AND she can write, too. And she's hysterical.
 And of course the woman of the night: Elana Johnson! She did such a fabulous job speaking. There was a great turnout for her launch. And I will never think of taxidermy the same way again. ;)
 And my other beautiful, amazingly talented friend Brodi Ashton. I still tell everyone I know to go get her book. (have you read EVERNEATH yet? If not then get off your butt and go buy it right now! NOW! What are you still sitting there for???) She is seriously so nice, I'm so happy every time I get to see her.
 Me and Elana! She is so kind, caring, genuine... the list goes on. I just love her! (BTW, let's not comment on my bad hair day, okay? I didn't have time to wash and blow dry it, so, yeah.)

It was an awesome night (and I unfortunately didn't get enough pictures of all my friends that were there). SO happy for you Elana!! I've heard such great things about SURRENDER and I can't wait to read it!

And then this happened today... SonA graduated from 1st grade! *swells with pride* *sobs* How does time fly by this fast?? I can't believe how big he is. He wrote an entire card to his teacher in Chinese characters, telling her "Thank you for teaching me Chinese. I love you and I will miss you." and even more, but that's all he translated for me before he had to run out the door. I can't believe he already speaks Chinese so well.

And now, summertime, here we come! What have you been doing this week?