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Stories Matter

It has been awhile since I updated, but every time I thought about it, I didn't know what to say. Sometimes your thoughts aren't there, the words just don't come. That's kind of been the story of my life for the past six months. And I'm not sure why, but I feel like I'm holding my tongue about so many things out in the world that I can't turn it off when I sit down at my computer. This world is turning into a place that I'm not sure I want to be a part of. The hate, the anger, the tragedy, this was not what America stands for, and yet, it feels like it's so much of what it's become. Adults need to learn the same lessons I teach to my third graders, there is never a reason not to be kind to someone. It takes so little effort to be nice, show kindness. You don't have to agree with them, you don't even necessarily have to like them, but you do have to be kind. Who cares what they look like, what color skin they have, what they dress like, what religion they believe in, who they love? Does it affect your life personally? Because it doesn't. It's their choice. That's the foundation that America was founded on. Not just freedom, but the freedom of choice. You have no right to tell someone else how to live and you have no right to be mean, push, call names, discriminate, shoot someone because of it. Kid President says, "If you don't have something nice to say, then you're not thinking hard enough."

"Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love." -Lin Manuel Miranda

Also, Hamilton has taken over my life. I was lucky enough to have seen it in March and I wish that I could explain how life changing that two hours and forty-five minutes in the Richard Rogers Theatre was. I have been learning about the formation of American since I was 9 years old (the perks of living in Virginia) and I have never realized in the past twenty years just how amazing it actually was that this democratic country formed. We came out of a rebellion and not one other time in history previously did a new country form with a government by the people and for the people. Washington and Jefferson and Adams and Madison and Mason and yes, Hamilton, were wise beyond they're years in being strong enough to form this country that would one day become a super power. All out of a rebellion.

 

Being in that room (where it happened, couldn't help myself) with hundreds of others as excited as I was to see live theatre was amazing. But the performance itself, the way it interweaved several musical styles, the way the staging drew you in and never let you go, the way the choreography was somehow its own character, it was something that I will never forget. A man who never got the credit he received is now getting his chance in a whole new story.

Stories are important. Stories matter. We are made of stories, and everyone has a story to tell. It is one of my favorite parts of being an author, because I get to share a story. Maybe it changes a life. Maybe it opens up a new perspective. Maybe it's just an escape from reality for a few hours. But words matter, stories matter, people matter. All people.

You just have to be ready to listen.

In the Presence of Greatness

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Do you ever get that feeling in your chest, like your heart is going to explode, when you find something that you love, that you're passionate about, that makes you tear up? Like you are just so overwhelmed with emotion, and you know you can't put it into words, but there's a feeling, just behind your heart, and you know that your life won't ever be the same. I don't get the feeling often, but every time I do, I love it and loathe it at the same time. It almost feels like I'm in pain, like it's so good that it hurts. Usually, it's art that makes me feel that a way. A song, a play, a picture. Isn't it amazing that art can do that to us? Art can change our entire worlds. It's something we take for granted, but how amazing is it, when you take a step back to realize you're in the presence of greatness?

Things that have made my chest ache in the best way recently:

  1. The cast album of Hamilton. It took me a few times, and I really had to listen to the lyrics, but it really feels like I'm in the presence of greatness. Lin Manuel Miranda has woven such an intricate story that you can't help but sink right in and get lost in the rhythms and stories. There are no words to describe it, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't listen to it. Seriously. Do it. Right now. Helpless and Satisfied are sheer brilliance, and Wait for It is beautifully sung by Leslie Odom Jr. Seriously, what are you waiting for?
  2. Watching Misty Copeland dance across the stage, overcoming her upbringing and her injuries, and being a new face for ballet, one that lets girls know it's okay not to look like "a perfect ballerina." She is perfection.
  3. Kate's face when Leo won the Oscar. Seriously, that's what OTPs are made of. 

Art. Something that has been around for thousands of years, from the first civilizations, because even those people realized the need to express, the need to communicate (RENT anyone?), the need to transcend. There is nothing better, nothing greater, nothing more powerful.

Except maybe Leo.

When Do We Go to Halloweentown?

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“Autumn, the year's last, loveliest, smile.”
-William Cullen Bryant

Where in the world did the past few months go? While it was happening, it felt painstakingly slow, but now, here we are and it's the end of October! Halloween is in 3 days! What?!

I guess I've had to spread my attention out to the many different projects I've been working on. School started (the first quarter ends on Friday!) and I had to go back to work and you know, work, that silly thing I have to do to get money to buy things :-). The end of the first quarter is always busy with report cards and parent conferences. Also, Friday is dress as a Book Character Day (our way of dressing up for Halloween without actually dressing up for Halloween). My team is dressing up as characters from Peter Pan and I'm Wendy. I'm probably way more excited than I should be! I'll post a picture on Facebook so you can see ;-).

On top of that, I'm in tech rehearsal for Avenue Q, the musical that I'm choreographing for the University of Mary Washington. I've been in rehearsals almost every night for the past month and we finally open a week from tomorrow! I've learned a lot doing this show, mostly how to work with puppets and how difficult it is! I have a new appreciation for one of my favorite Christmas movies, A Muppet's Christmas Carol. Walking and talking and singing and moving your hand for the puppet mouth is a lot! I'm actually sitting and writing this in the theatre as lights and sound work through the show (shh, don't tell).

Here are some of some of the puppets we made for the show!

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On top of all of my "real jobs," I went to two different book events which were a lot of fun. I had a great day by the harbor at the Baltimore Book Festival letting people know that Perfect Men Do Exist ;-).

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The following weekend, I went to Tennessee to the Indie Romance Convention. I met a lot of really great fellow authors, even some New Adult authors like me. We had dinner and shared book recommendations and tips on advertising. I've read a few of their books and I can't wait to read more. Here are some of their books with links to their Facebook pages if you want to go check them out!

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I haven't been writing a whole lot because I've been so busy with other things, but I'll be able to start my new book soon. I have a couple of thoughts rolling around in my brain and depending on the day, a different one is winning. We'll just have to wait and see which one demands to be written first.

Happy Summer!

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“What time is it? Summertime!”
-High School Musical 2

I'm officially on summer vacation and loving it! I haven't had many days yet where I've had the opportunity to sit and read (or write) all day, but I'm hoping that's coming soon!

A lot has happened in the past month. The biggest thing is Every Choice was released! This time I had more of a chance to prepare and knew more of what to expect than I did in December with Every Beat. I've gotten some amazing reviews from even more amazing bloggers and I'm grateful that they took the time to read my stories! Go take a look here and here. A blog tour is starting on Sunday and there will be lots of opportunities to fall in love with Luca and Cassie. Go check out some of the blogs here.

I'm also super thrilled to announce that I will be at a few more author events and signings in the Virginia area in the next year. At the end of September, I'll be at the Baltimore Book Festival in the Author's Tent. Next April, I'll be at Richmond Reader's Rehab author event (where all proceeds go to benefit Honor the Sacrifice, a charity to help soldiers) and A Royal Affair in Front Royal, Virginia.

I'm working on a special project for the Indie Romance Convention I'll be attending in Lebanon, Tennessee in October, but I don't want to say too much yet. Check back soon for an update when I can finally tell you more ;-).

Speaking of that project, I'm using this post to procrastinate and I need to get back to it. Don't forget to check back soon...Mr. Ellis has been missing you :-).

It's Gonna Be a Busy Few Weeks

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“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.”
-Bo Bennett

I blinked and all of a sudden it's June. June! Part of me can't believe it's here and the other part of me is so glad that it is. Summer vacation is just a few short weeks and I can't wait (15 days with students left, just in case you were wondering). So much is happening that I'm excited about!!

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First of all, I'm going to my first ever book signing next week in Dayton, hosted by Just One More Romance. I'm thrilled and honored to be along side of many other authors who share my love of stories and romance. My friend, editor, fellow writer, supporter, confidant, and fangirl, Shannon is coming with me to help me get through it and I'm super excited. She's the one who introduced me to this wonderful world of books (thank you Shannon...and Travis Maddox and Kellan Kyle) and I'm lucky enough to be able to bring her along with me.

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The following week, on JUNE 13TH, my second book, Every Choice, is being released! I am over-the-moon excited and proud of this book and I can't wait to send it out in the world. Like with everything, the more you do it, the better you can become. I can proudly say that this book is better than the first and I'm thrilled with the response so far. I can't wait for you to meet Cassie and Luca and root for them, even when they can't root for themselves. You can go check it out on Amazon or on Goodreads right now.

I've also started working on a new project (which I'm procrastinating by writing here) that I can hopefully share some details with you soon. I'm still trying to figure it all out, but let's just say some familiar characters will be coming back ;-).

In completely other random news, I've been reading, which is great because I feel like I haven't done it in forever. I have a really hard time reading and writing at the same time, so it's become a one or the other situation. Since I've mostly been editing recently, I've been able to read and have read some fantastic books. I am completely in love with All Played Out by Cora Carmack. I've read her books since the beginning, but this one was hands down my favorite. It's the third in her Rusk University series, but you can read it as a standalone and it is sexy, and steamy, and laugh-out-loud hilarious (just ask my husband who kept shooting me looks as I laughed). If you're looking for something new to read until Every Choice comes out, I highly recommend that.

I better get back to my real work, it seems like it's never ending. Happy June, everyone!