Jake: Rugged, soulful, handsome, heartfelt but stubborn, very talented musically.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Thinking about the past, thinking about the future and what life will bring. But mostly, I’ve been thinking a lot about the present. I’m going to be honest with you guys, I’m in the thick of it. Right now, life is a constant hustle-your-bustle, shake-your-groove-thang, complete exhaustion yet thrill of a lifetime type of ride. Life is busy. The kind of busy that leaves your heart full and happy but the kind that leaves you breathless and in bed before 9PM. Do you understand what I’m saying? Please raise your hand if you can relate.
I’ve thought, no less than 100 times that my second novel would be finished by now. But the truth is, I’m struggling to balance it all. I’m a wife, a momma to two kiddos under four, a career gal and sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to be an author too. Juggling it all is a constant struggle, but one I am so incredibly grateful for. I’m so thankful for it all. The love, the happiness, the struggle. All of it is so real inside of me. I’m just trying to take my time and figure it out. I’m so blessed with a life that allows me to hope and dream and one day, I will figure it all out and I will finish that second novel of mine. But I am not going to give myself a timeline because if I do, it will take away from the moment. My moment. The small moment in time when I can sit back and watch my babies grow, relishing in the fact that I am present and there when it matters the most. Some days are easy and others, not so much, but as I sit here and slowly sip my morning cup of hot lemon water, I am grateful as the I think of it all. My heart is overflowing. There is so much I could say but instead, I will say I am striving to come to peace with myself. There are so many feelings that come from desperately wanting a perfectly put together life but instead discovering that God’s broken, and pieced-together path is actually the most beautiful one out there. I am not where I want to be or who I want to be, but I am a work in progress. And as I work toward becoming the person I want to be, I will choose GRACE, not perfection.
Baby steps, y’all.
Emily Giffin, the beloved author of such novels as Something Borrowed and Where We Belong, returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.
Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.
But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.
Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.
Emily Giffin is by far, hands down, my favorite women’s fiction author. I have devoured every book from her and will continue to do so, despite my feelings for her latest, The One & Only.
I was on the fence for a majority of the book and honestly, I think it was mostly because I was hoping it was going to end up the way I thought it was headed. There was a lot of back and forth in the book and it is something I’ve grown accustomed to with Giffin’s writing, but this time it felt…overly done. But, maybe that’s because I wasn’t a big fan of Shea or the story in general and couldn’t really appreciate what she was going through as a character.
Typically, I adore Giffin’s stellar writing, and this book is no exception. She is a fantastic storyteller, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around this one unfortunately. The whole time I kept picturing my best friend’s dad and that made things quite awkward. The character development wasn’t her best but it was still believable and even though most people had issues with all of the football stuff, I actually quite enjoyed it…especially since I am a Texas gal.
It really kills me that I can’t write a stellar 5-star review for Giffin, as I have done for all of her books in the past. This book, while still well researched and well written, was just a tad over-the-top for me. It is still a solid read though, maybe just not one I would recommend to everyone like I usually do with her books.
The New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter imagines the inspiration for Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Songs) is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the “great green room” might have come to be.
June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.
For the past few years, it has been such a pleasure to watch Sarah grow as a writer and this book definitely proves why she has become one of my favorite authors to read. Jio is flawless as she transitions between time periods to tell this story, this time with letters from the 1940s between the bookstore’s owner Ruby and the infamous author of so many beloved childrens books, most notably Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown. When Ruby passes, her niece June, inherits the bookstore along with its fantastic, storied past.
My son and I read Goodnight Moon constantly before bed, so needless to say, Jio had me hooked from the get go. I was so intrigued to get started and absolutely adored the fictional account of the inspiration behind Margaret Wise Brown’s most beloved story. By far, the back and forth letters between Brown and Ruby were my favorite part, but I also enjoyed watching June grow as a woman and find her own happiness. There were some parts of the story that I feel came together a little too neatly, but overall, it was a great story in a fantastic setting.
Goodnight June is a wonderfully heartfelt story about love, friendship, family, and life. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
In the meantime, I will be anxiously awaiting the release of Jio’s latest, The Look of Love, due out in November.
Sorry for taking such a long absence from this blog but I have been spending my time and energy on other things, like my newest book (and the growing baby inside my belly). After taking a brief hiatus from writing for a few months, I am now back and writing more than ever. So, please stay with me these next few weeks while I hopefully finish the first draft of my new novel (fingers crossed) and welcome my baby girl into the world (5 more weeks and counting).
And until then, I hope you are working on whatever makes your heart flutter. I thought I lost my passion for writing but turns out, it was just buried underneath a pile of self doubt and worry. But, I’ve since dug it out and am so excited to share my latest project with you all.
Charley Lambert has worked hard at creating a perfect life. She has an aspirational flat, a job of international significance and a very good pair of legs, thanks to a rigorous health and fitness regime. Best of all, her boss has asked her out after seven years’ hard flirting and a covert fumble in a cleaning cupboard.
Then she breaks her leg in three places, watches her boss propose to someone else and – horror – is forced to hand over her job to her nasty deputy.
Charley, a certified workaholic, fears that she will go mad. Dangerously bored, she starts helping people who are talentless at internet dating. Then William arrives in her inbox and rocks her world. Helpless, she watches herself fall in love with him and discovers she’s not who she thought she was.
But can she turn her back on her old life – all for a total stranger?
This book is hysterical! The main character, Charley Lambert, leads on crazy, hectic life. At times, it almost seems like every minute of her life is accounted for and she barely has time to think, let alone anything else. But, that all changes when she breaks her leg and is forced to take some time away from work. During this time, she decides to start her own business, and she has the perfect niche idea in mind. Author Lucy Robinson does a really great job at creating a story that is realistic and enjoyable, and not too predictable, like Chick Lit often times is. The characters were genuine and honest and the story flows flawlessly, which is hard for a book that features so many comedic twists and turns. Be on the lookout for John MacAllister. He is probably one of my favorite characters in the book and I really enjoyed watching him blossom. Overall, this book is quite enjoyable and I am so pleased with Lucy as an author. She is quite talented and I can’t wait to read more from her.
I highly recommend this book.
A confession: I have never done meditation, yoga, hypnosis, walking on hot coals or any other practices aimed at unleashing mental powers. I get my best ideas for writing while walking the dog. One of my Buddhist friends refers to this as my “walking meditation,” but it’s really more of a “stop, sniff, and pee” thing.
Yesterday, however, I stumbled onto something that made me realize I’ve been using creative visualization techniques all along.
What was that special “something?” Not a book of Buddhist philosophy or a Hindu guide to enlightenment. Nope, it was a New York Times magazine profile of Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City and six other novels that focus on beautiful women making gobs of money and having a lot of sex. (Truthfully, I’ve never read any of these novels, but I did indulge in watching the show with my daughters, if only to chortle over phrases like “I was emotionally slutty.”)
In her profile, Energizer Bunny Bushnell says:
…I always wanted to write novels. I think when I was 12, I started reading Evelyn Waugh, and I loved Evelyn Waugh so much, and I thought: This is how the world really is. If I could be Evelyn Waugh, then I would be happy.
Since then, Bushnell has been writing, usually six hours a day. And there’s the key: Every successfully published writer I know started out as an inspired reader and visualized the rest.
At some point in our lives, writers realize that books are written by real people, and we began putting our pens to paper or our fingers on the keyboard. To keep ourselves going, we visualize our books on shelves, our bylines in magazines, and yes, movie adaptations of our books. I even had one friend who cut out a photograph of herself and pasted it onto a rave book review in a newspaper, then pinned that review above her desk to help herself imagine writing a book that would end up being published and widely applauded.
My true visualizations of the writing life began when I was house sitting for a professor in graduate school. It was a boring summer, so I spent a lot of time sitting on the deck and pretending to read. Really what I was doing — and yes, I admit this is creepy — was spying on the neighbor across the street. She was a fairly well-known writer and I admired her books. Every morning, her husband would go to work, her children went off to camps or wherever, and that woman brought her laptop out to the deck with a mug of coffee. She sat there for hours, frowning and chewing on pens and typing.
And I do mean hours. Sometimes, that woman sat there all day long, until her husband came home again, kissed her, went into the house to change his clothes, and came back out with a couple of glasses of wine. Then they’d sit on the porch and talk, drinks in hand, and I could tell the woman was happy because she’d spent the day thinking and writing, and now her family was home.
I wanted that life. I just didn’t know how badly at the time.
Fast forward to the present. I had various jobs, traveled, got married, had children and got divorced. I got married again, had one more child, and here I am now, writing for a living. And, every day, as soon as my husband leaves for work and the house is empty of children, I’m at my laptop, writing stories, essays, articles and, now, finally, novels. At the end of the day, my husband and I have wine and talk with each other and the children.
I have reached my goal. I am that woman on the deck with books of my own on the shelves and a loving family. But did I do this deliberately, using visualization techniques? Is it really possible to imagine what you want and get it?
I have come to believe that it is. People use creative visualization techniques to accomplish everything from small goals, like losing weight, to larger life aims, like advancing their careers. Those who do so successfully seem to agree on these three key points, which I think are germane for those of us who aspire to be published writers:
1. Creative visualizations are like mental rehearsals. You must visualize things consistently and often to perfect the visualization. People who want to succeed in landing a job, for instance, might imagine the details of walking into the office, offering a confident handshake, and summing up the highlights of their prior work experience over and over again before they perfect those actions and actually do those things on job interviews. Likewise, my mental rehearsals as a writer have often included imagining that I reach the end of an essay or a novel, writing query letters to agents, and, eventually, am called for radio interviews and book signings.
2. The best visualizations include lots of details. For instance, if you want to use this technique to lose weight, you have to picture what number you want to see on the scale tomorrow, the day after that, and next week. You also must imagine what you’ll eat at each meal, right down to how many carrots will be on your plate. As a writer, my visualization techniques have also been specific: I picture myself sitting down at the computer with a thermos of tea, wearing my comfy slippers, and that helps me do it every single day. During a busy period of freelance ghost writing with tense deadlines, for instance, I imagine that one hour after dinner where I’ll work on my novel by visualizing myself in pajamas and deep into Chapter Three, a cup of mint tea at my elbow, with maybe a square of dark chocolate as a treat. I can smell the mint when I imagine this.
3. Your visualization must include positive thinking. By this, I mean that you must believe in yourself. This is tough to do as a writer, because our lives are rich with rejections. But it really will work. Again, let’s look at the example of dieting, since that’s the one so many of us are familiar with: On the days we tell ourselves we’ll always be fat, we feel bad about ourselves and are more likely to break our diets or skip the gym. We have to convince ourselves that we are worthy of the time and energy it takes to care for our bodies if we’re going to maintain those resolutions to be fit and eat better. Similarly, if we believe we’ll never finish a novel, guess what? We never will. To be a published writer, you must tell yourself each day, over and over again, that novels are written one page at a time, or even one sentence at a time. If you’re writing even a few sentences a day, you are a writer, and you will reach your goal.
What about you? Any visualization techniques you’d like to share?
I’d better go and plug in the heater. It’s time to shut myself in my room to write. Wish me luck! And I hope you enjoy my book . .
Stay tuned because I will be posting my review of Lucy’s latest book, A PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR WITH A TOTAL STRANGER on Wednesday.
Summary: Brynne Ropert and Portland Dolish have been best friends since being paired as roommates in college. Seven years later they are now twenty-five, married, and living in Maine–– but the two women couldn’t be more different. Brynne finds fulfillment in her life as a wife, mother and owner of a small café and bookshop, but is struggling to expand her family. Portland is still coping with her mother’s death during her childhood, and her marriage is unraveling before her eyes. Portland envies her friend’s seemingly stable and easy life while Brynne doesn’t understand the growing distance between them and cannot begin to guess what secret Portland is hiding about her husband and crumbling marriage. While one woman feels shut out, the other enters into a web of lies to protect herself.
A Questionable Friendship explores what really makes someone a true friend, a support system, a sister. How much trust goes into a friendship and when is being a friend not enough? Brynne and Portland’s story will attempt to answer those questions, and show that happily ever after isn’t in the cards for everyone.
My Thoughts: When I first heard Samantha was writing a new book, I was so excited to read it. I’ve been a fan of her and her writing for quite sometime and was thrilled to be a part of her tour and finally get a chance to read her latest. The first thing I noticed was that this book is very different than anything she has written before, but it is still an excellent, engrossing read that was difficult to put down. Playing to her strengths as an author, this book has excellent, honest dialogue that I really enjoyed, as well as a very clever plot…one that will keep you on your toes, eager for more. I enjoyed both of the main characters and thought they were both developed very well. Overall, this story is really well written and I know it will be one that I come back to time and time again when I think about my own friendships and relationships. Definitely a must read!
And, an added bonus? There is a giveaway!
One year ago today, I was anxiously awaiting the release of my debut novel, LOVE IN TRANSLATION. Emotions were very high to say the least but I remember being so excited to finally release my little baby into the world. In the months that followed, I quickly learned that there is a lot that goes into having a successful novel, and only a small portion of it is actually writing a great novel. There have been ups and downs, but as I sit here and write this, I could not be more grateful for the experiences and the knowledge learned this past year.
And to celebrate the one year anniversary of the release of LOVE IN TRANSLATION, it will be on sale through Sunday evening. So, if you love love, and want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a good book, feel free to scoop up your copy.