2011 IN REVIEW…

Lots of people do wrap-ups at the end of the year, but lovely posts by Jessica Love and Erin Bowman in particular have inspired me to do one of my own. Fair warning: This is a LONG post. It’s also full of pictures, many of which include my daughter. If you’re getting bored with those, please accept my apologies. She’s just so darn cute!

All in all, 2011 was a strange year, full of very high highs and some super low lows. Here’s what sticks out…

JANUARY

High – Revised and started querying my manuscript, Where Poppies Bloom, in hopes of snagging a fantastic literary agent.

High – Cheered on the Seahawks, a sort of last hurrah with my husband before he headed out to Ranger School.


Low AND High – Said a sad goodbye my hubby and began a year of serious bonding with my favorite girl.

February

High – Sent more Poppies queries, received some requests, then some encouraging rejections, revised, queried some more.


Low – Turned thirty… Eep! I’m old! (Though the Ben and Jerry’s was a high.)

High – Took serious inventory of my eating and lifestyle habits and decided to make some major changes. I’ve since become a healthy eater and happy runner and yoga-er. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight and feel amazing.

March

Becoming a Low – Had a few close calls with Poppies, revised, queried some more. (Are we beginning to see a pattern here?)

High – Welcomed Spring with open arms.

Low – My girlie lost her first tooth. (Okay, it was knocked out. She cried. I did too.)

High – I acquired a niece! I’d already been blessed with three nephews, so this was a VERY exciting event! Isn’t she sweet?

High – While Poppies was in the hands of several agents, I decided to give it a mental rest in favor of something shiny and new. This idea (creatively entitled Bus WiP) resulted in a detailed outline that’s still awaiting a first draft.

April

High – Celebrated Easter with my Sweet Pea.

High – Trekked across the country to watch my husband graduate from Ranger School in Georgia. So proud of him! (Also, he’s not normally this thin. Ranger School is grueling.)

High – Received an offer of representation from an amazing agent while on vacation! Notified others who were reading. Waited…

High – Visited Disney World with my parents, my husband and our girl, and my in-laws. Such a wonderful trip!


High – Visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogsmeade! Butterbeer! Rollercoasters! Dream come true. ūüôā

May

High – Received a second offer of representation. Contemplated. Made a challenging but thrilling decision. Signed with Agent Vickie. Celebration ensued!

Low – Watched and worried as my dad’s health mysteriously deteriorated, culminating in TWO brain surgeries and a discouraging diagnoses. I can’t really describe what this was like, except to say that watching a man who’s appeared invincible your entire life rapidly decline is absolutely heartbreaking.

Low – Waved a tearful goodbye to my husband as he deployed to Afghanistan. Again, it’s hard to express how horrible a feeling it is to say farewell to the person you love most, especially knowing there’s a possibility he could be hurt or killed while away. It’s the very best part of yourself, ripped away.

June

High – Happily welcomed Summer!

High – Got down and dirty with the Poppies revision ideas Agent Vickie suggested. Fleshed out characters. Upped the mystery. Added detail to the setting and backstory.

High – Watched the world’s hammiest little hula girl dance the Hukilau.

High – Fell in love with my small town all over again.

July

High – Successfully completed my first 5K, and my first round of revisions.


High – Celebrated the Fourth of July with family and friends.


Low – Dealt with this hideous creature cock-a-doodle-dooing all day and night for weeks. (I found out later that my neighbor shot him. Yikes.)

High – Dove into another round of revisions. (Yes. I am freakishly pragmatic.)


Low – Said goodbye to Harry Potter. The end of an era, I tell ya!

High – My girlie and I visited my parents in Phoenix. My dad was weak but beginning to recover, thank goodness.

August

High – Celebrated my girl’s fourth birthday…

…with a very Tangled Birthday Bash!

High – Completed a second 5K, and submitted another revised version of Poppies to Agent Vickie. Getting close!

Low – Rushed my Sweet Pea to the ER after she fell face-first on the pavement. Tears all around. A terrifying night, but luckily there was no lasting damage.

High – Discovered yoga and became a total junkie.

High – Contemplated and planned for a rewrite of a previously “finished” manuscript. This one’s still in the works, and it’s one I’m really excited about.

September

High – My girlie began another year of preschool. Where has the time gone?!

High – Got our country on and traveled to the Tacoma Dome to see…

Taylor Swift!

October


Low – Begrudgingly accepted that Fall was on its way. We’re sunshine girls… What can I say?

High – Our annual trip to the local Pumpkin Patch.

High – Halloween with Rapunzel. (I was Hermione Granger, obviously.)

High – I was invited to join the Bookanistas, a group of writers who review exceptional picture, middle grade, and young adult literature.

November

High – Finished revising Poppies! Embraced my next project.


High – Lots of bonding with fantastic friends, especially this girl, who I adore!

Low – Realized that I’m a compulsive book buyer. Yeah…

High (sort of) – Had all kinds of fun with my family, cheering my beloved Cougs on to an Apple Cup… LOSS. *sigh*

High – Got all dolled up to see Cinderella at the Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle. (Loved.)

December

Low – Accepted Winter for its frigid days and early nights. Boo. Still, with sunrises like this one, it’s not all bad. (How cool is the shadow of Mt. Rainier on the clouds?)

High – Rediscovered my love of baking. Now I just need my husband to return so he can eat all my confections!

Low – Speaking of my husband, I came to terms with the fact that my daughter and I will be spending another holiday season without him. Painful, but I’m so thankful this deployment is winding down.

High – Reconnected with old friends. I’ve known these girls since I was sixteen (one since I was ten!).

There you have it… My 2011. The highs, the lows, and everything in between. This post (while incredibly time consuming to put together!) was a fun trip down memory lane. It’s reminded me how lucky I am, how much I’ve grown in twelve months, and, most importantly, that the highs always outnumber the lows.

Tell me, what was your highest high of 2011? Your lowest low?

On making it yours…

You may have seen my tweets about the local writing seminar I attended on Saturday (Sumner, Washington’s Write in the Valley, in case you’re wondering). It was a fun event; small and intimate, with a diverse panel. There were traditionally published authors (Kimberly Derting! Love her books!) and self-published authors, authors of fiction and nonfiction, and a Book Doctor who shared all kinds of useful information.

The audience was full of writers, both starting out and experienced, and some fantastic questions and conversations came up. One topic that seemed to dominate much of the discussion, though, was that of¬†plagiarism. People seemed very afraid of copying another writer’s work (unintentionally, I presume) and getting called out on it down the road. They¬†used gentler words to discuss plagiarism (“borrowing” and “honoring”), but the gist was pretty much the same: How can a writer ensure that their work is original when there’s so much published material already out there?¬†

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never worried about this. There are hundreds of ghost stories on the market, thousands of books set in old houses,¬†innumerable¬†protagonists dealing with the loss of a loved one, countless teens sent to live with relatives, zillions of girls forced to choose between two boys. Yet, I know my story, Where Poppies Bloom, is unique. It’s told from my¬†perspective, with my life experiences to back it up. My characters are original, the setting is my own creation, and my inimitable author voice carries the story. I did the creative work to draft, revise, edit Poppies, and I’m certain that no one else has written (or will write) a story quite like it. Nobody can tell Callie’s story the way I can.

People have been writing stories since they dwelled in caves. To think that you’ve come up with an idea that’s never been done is a little presumptuous and a lot arrogant. My mom and I were just talking about this the other day: She mentioned that every piece of women’s or literary fiction she’s picked up lately has been about a middle-aged, middle-class woman with a cheating husband who has to rebuild her life from scratch. Gosh, I feel like I’ve read that book one or two (or one-hundred) times.

I mean, really… How many fictional YA girls are there out there who have an exceptional ability and are fated to save the world? How many dangerous paranormal boys have we seen fall in love with a Mary Sue?¬†Was Stephenie Meyer the first author to write about vampires? Of course not. Before her was Anne Rice, and before her was Bram Stoker, and before him was¬†John William Polidori. I’m willing to bet every subsequent author drew inspiration from those who came before them. But did they commit an act of¬†plagiarism? No way. They each gave the old vampire tale a spin of their own.¬†Edward Cullen sparkles in the sun… didn’t you hear?

That said, there are only so many basic plots. I’ve found¬†arguments for the idea that there is only one (ONE!) plot with millions of variations. I’ve also seen research that claims there are three (The Basic Patterns of Plot by William Foster-Harris), seven (The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories¬†by Christopher Booker), twenty (20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them by Ronald Tobias), and thirty-six (Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti).

We can subscribe to whatever idea of maximum number of basic plots we want. What’s important is that we embrace that fact that, when boiled way¬†down, there are only so many original ideas. Every story, at its very core, can be sorted into one of these:¬†man vs. nature,¬†man vs. man,¬†man vs. the environment,¬†man vs. machines/technology,¬†man vs. the supernatural,¬†man vs. self, or¬†man vs. god/religion.¬†It’s what we DO with the fundamental “plot” we choose that makes our stories innovative and imaginative and ¬†memorable and¬†ours.

Tell me… What, in your opinion, makes a story unique?¬†

What a difference a year makes…

This is my sweet pea just before her first day of preschool last year. Don’t be fooled by that big grin. She began sobbing as soon as we pulled into the drop-off line and continued sobbing well into the first hour of school. She was fine by the time I picked her up, but holy heartache, her tears were just about my undoing.

Here she is today on her first day of Pre-K. First of all, where did last year go? When did my girl become such a little lady? And what a difference a year makes! At drop-off she couldn’t have been more excited. She couldn’t wait to see her friends and her teachers and show off her new outfit (isn’t it cute? :)). I had to remind her to give me a kiss! But that’s okay. Seriously. I’d so much rather a cheerful, independent girl who’s excited about new experiences and happy to be social and learn new things. I’m such a proud mama!

And speaking of last year… it was on this first day of school one year ago that I wrote the very first scene of Where Poppies Bloom (that scene has remained largely unchanged, in case you’re wondering). I’ve since revised Poppies a dozen times, queried, revised some more, and signed with an amazing agent. I’m currently finishing up some final edits and then–*gasp*–the submission process begins!

I’m curious… How has your life changed in the last year?

RTW: Take me to the beach…


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‚ÄėBlog Carnival,‚Äô where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for¬†participants to¬†respond to on their own blogs.¬†You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody‚Äôs unique take on the topic.

Today‚Äôs Topic: What¬†is¬†the¬†most¬†inspiring¬†setting¬†you’ve¬†ever¬†visited in real life?

This is an easy one for me: Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The setting of Where Poppies Bloom is fictional Bell Cove, based heavily on Cannon Beach, an adorable little town I used to visit with my family when I was a child. My husband, daughter and I made the drive there last September for a vacation (also, research :)) and it was so inspiring. A charming little town with a laid back, beachy feel. Kites and sandcastles on the beach, taffy and fudge to snack on in town, sunny days and crisp nights. Honestly, I’d love to live in Cannon Beach someday–it’s that perfect. Here’s what it looks like:





So, what’s the most inspiring setting you’ve visited in real life? Don’t forget to stop by YA Highway to see how everyone else answered.

Oh, and have you entered my The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer giveaway? It ends tomorrow, so hurry! :)

RTW: Non-SENSE-ical


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‚ÄėBlog Carnival,‚Äô where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for¬†participants to¬†respond to on their own blogs.¬†You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody‚Äôs unique take on the topic.

Today’s RTW: The Five Senses… How do you use them in your writing? How are you inspired by them? What books have used them well? Which ones are currently missing from your work?¬†

I think description is one of my strengths as a writer (hopefully my CPs and agent didn’t just read that statement and think, No, it’s not!) I love writing descriptions, getting in touch with all five of my senses, and hopefully piquing the senses of my reader. Whenever possible, I try to experience something before writing about it. I find it much easier to go into detail and get creative with my words if I’ve actually walked barefoot on that sun-drenched beach, tasted that decadent chocolate cake, or watched that fiery sunset.

The Five Senses* defined, as they relate to writing:

SIGHT – the ability of the eye(s) to focus and detect images of visible light… that generates electrical nerve impulses for varying colors, hues, and brightness.


From my manuscript Where Poppies Bloom: I dream of a cemetery, headstones ashen and crumbling, staring straight ahead; soldiers in a row. The sky is  liquid mercury, churning up thunder and rain. Flashes of lightning illuminate the graves, trees, bouquets of flowers left by mourning family members.

Books that do it well: Chime, Across the Universe, The Sky is Everywhere

HEARING –¬†the sense of sound perception. Hearing is all about vibration.


From Where Poppies Bloom: I need the solitude of laps swum alone. It‚Äôs funny‚ÄĒthe pool can be both alarmingly loud and serenely quiet all at once. The rush of water in my ears washes away everything else.

Books that do it well: Linger, Just Listen, Freefall

TASTE – the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc.


From Where Poppies Bloom: I pick up my fork and take a small bite of crepe; the blueberries are summery sweet, slippery on my tongue.

Books that do it well: Anna and the French Kiss, Wither, Harry Potter

SMELL – hundreds of olfactory receptors each binding to a particular molecular feature. The odor molecules possess a variety of features and, thus, excite specific receptors more or less strongly.


From Where Poppies Bloom: He plops down in a rocker, still breathing heavy. He smells of cut grass and whatever deodorant he uses, and more faintly, sweat.

Books that do it well: Twilight, Dirty Little Secrets, The Replacement

TOUCH – a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors, generally in the skin. A variety of pressure receptors respond to variations in pressure.


From Where Poppies Bloom: His splayed fingers run the length of my scalp, from the base of my neck to my crown. He does it again and the pressure is amazing. I turn to beeswax, softening under his warm fingers, melting into the fine sand.

Books that do it well: Lovesick, Willow, Firelight, The Body Finder

*Actual definitions from Wikipedia

So, that’s my RTW take on the five senses as they relate to writing. How do you include descriptions that touch on all five senses in your stories?

And, this obviously has nothing to do with Road Trip Wednesday, writing, or the five senses, but I have to share… Four years ago today this happened:

I know I look about 14 in this picture, but I was actually 26, wearing no make-up and fresh from a sobfest.

I’ll resist the urge to weep about how fast time flies and how I sometimes wish I could rewind my life four years into the past so I can experience baby-hood all over again. Most days, though, I’m happy to stay in the now because I get to hang out with my smart, sweet, loving little cutie pie. She never fails to make me smile. Happy Fourth Birthday to my girl! ūüôā

Ahh… Summer

So, we’re most definitely in the throes of summer around here. Back in May I was kind of dreading this season, thinking it would drag on forever, what with the preschool break, my husband’s deployment, and the long daylight hours. In fact, so far it’s flown by, and I’ve been very busy.


There’s been lots of work–both revising (Where Poppies Bloom) and rewriting (Cross My Heart–you know you love my color-coding). I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel in the revision department. The rewriting… not so much.


There’s also been lots of time spent with this little cutie pie. Holy cow does she keep me busy! (I’m currently staring at this picture and wondering when I started looking so OLD… Eek. Time to up the SPF, I think.)


My kiddo and I have spent lots of time exploring our lovely Puget Sound “beaches.” We’ve found crabs and broken seashells and pennies and bits of jelly fish. Sadly, there’s been no swimming.


Don’t worry though–when it gets too hot, we risk our lives on backyard toys like this.


In quieter times, I’m been prepping for a very Tangled 4th birthday bash. So far I’ve got the kingdom flags, hair flowers, invitations, and a costume fit for a Princess (there’s a tutu too!). If only I could wrap my head around food, activities, balloons and party favors.


I’m also trying to put a dent in this insanity. (Don’t judge. You know your To-Read pile is out of control.) It’s hard to make the piles shrink when I just keep buying books, but hey, I suppose as far as vices go, this one isn’t too terrible. Any recommendations on what I should read next?

There’s also been running, cleaning, library trips, play dates, baking (Death by Triple Chocolate Brownies–yum!), yard work, a local Peter Pan play, pedicures, and time with family… whew!

On Wednesday my kiddo and I are headed to Phoenix to visit my parents and bake ourselves to perfection at 110 degrees. Should be lots of fun! Unfortunately, my blogging will probably slow (or stop) during the next week, but I look forward to returning refreshed and rested. ūüôā

How’s your summer shaping up? Any fun activities you want to tell me about?

RTW: Visual Inspiration


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‚ÄėBlog Carnival,‚Äô where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for¬†participants to¬†respond to on their own blogs.¬†You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody‚Äôs unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: It’s been awhile since we shared inspiration pictures. Show us yours!

Well, I’m on the downhill slide of revising my contemporary young adult ghost story, Where Poppies Bloom, so it just so happens that I’ve got it on the brain.

I’m a very visual person so once I had an inkling of an idea for the story (late last summer), I began trolling the internet for inspiring pictures. Here are the one’s that had the biggest impact on the initial drafting of Poppies:

The ever-mysterious poppy meadow.
Oregon coast cliffs.
Main character Callie spends her summer at an old Victorian that looks something like this…
The car Callie’s eventual love interest drives. She dubs it the Hippie Wagon.
I took this picture of Cannon Beach, Oregon last fall.
A main character wears a jacket just like this. A lot.
After a long hiatus, Callie attempts to reconnect with her passion: competitive swimming.
Callie’s blonde. There are poppies. And this one’s just pretty.

Now that I’m looking at these lined up all pretty, I’m surprised by how closely I stuck to the story these early pictures inspired. Sure there have been plenty of revisions and edits, but wow… the core of the original story is definitely still there. I’m also starting to wonder how completely random these pictures look to those of you who haven’t read Where Poppies Bloom… I swear it all comes together quite nicely!

What do you use for writing inspiration? Photographs? Music? Something new and exciting? Do share!

Time Management (Or Not)


Lately I’ve thinking a lot about 2006. It was a weird year. I was living in Tennessee about two-thousand miles from my family and lifelong friends,my husband was deployed, and I was childless. Since I’d had a roommate or lived in a sorority house all through college and my husband and I got married two weeks after graduation, 2006 was my first experience with living completely alone. It was cool. I could eat whatever I wanted, watch whatever I wanted on TV, sleep whenever I wanted, go wherever I wanted. Granted, I was teaching full-time, but from about 4pm to 11pm, I could do as I pleased.

Now, whenever I think about 2006, I ponder with equal parts bewilderment and annoyance the following questions: WHY THE HELL DID I WASTE ALL THAT FREE TIME?! WHY DON’T I HAVE ANYTHING TO SHOW FOR IT?! WHY WASN’T I WRITING SERIOUSLY BACK THEN?!

Lately, there just does not seem to be enough time in the day. Thanks to yet another deployment (the fourth of my eight year marriage, in case you’re curious), I am essentially a single parent. Luckily, I have a sweet, well-behaved, awesome-to-hang-out-with child, but holy cow does she keep me busy! I feel like I’m running her all over Western Washington (ballet and swimming and play dates and Spanish) all day everyday, and when we aren’t rushing to one of her activities, there’s grocery shopping and lawn mowing and house cleaning and bill paying and dog walking… plus, I’ve recently decided to run an organized 5K, so there’s exercise to fit in to the day as well.


Did you notice that I didn’t list writing on my above list of activities? That’s because by the time my kiddo goes to bed, I’m too exhausted to sit up straight, let alone add to my WIP word count. Still, I’m trying hard to fit it in. I’ve got three different projects in varying stages of crazy¬†completion. Where Poppies Bloom is close to being “done” and hopefully on submission, Cross My Heart is being replotted and rewritten (I’m REALLY excited about where it’s going!), and Bus WIP is… well, very much still a WIP.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m going to have to do some serious prioritizing to ensure that I’m getting everything I need to get done DONE, and that includes writing. But for me, there are a few things that will always come before I sit down at my computer to work:

~Family. My daughter (and my husband, when he’s home) come first.
~My health, including exercise and nutrition (I will never be one of those people who’s working so hard that oops, I forget to eat).
~The cleanliness of my house. I simply can’t clear my head enough to write when I’m surrounded by clutter.
~Reading. I consider it professional development, plus, I really enjoy it.

And there are some things I’m more than happy to let go of in order to get the words down on paper:

~TV, Movies, Magazines. Thank goodness for DVR and Netflix. ūüôā
~Hobbies. Once upon a time, I fancied myself a quilter (no, I am not eighty), but that little pastime has kind of gone by the wayside over the last few years.
~My Social Life. If you don’t have a four-year-old who my daughter likes to play with, I’m probably not spending a lot of time with you. Sad but true.
~Sleep. Overrated.
~Social Media. This is a hard one because often it goes hand-in-hand with a successful writing career. BUT, there’s no writing career if there are no complete manuscripts.


So, I’m curious… how do you prioritize your time? What are you willing to sacrifice for writing? What comes first for you?

Good news, good news, GOOD NEWS!

Remember how I was going to take a blog hiatus? Well, I’m thinking there’s no better time to interrupt that hiatus than to share some pretty amazing news… I’ve signed with a literary agent!

There’s a lengthy story behind my search for an agent. Here’s the moderately exciting condensed version (because I’m aways curious about how others arrive at agentdom): I wrote a story, queried it, and soon figured out it wasn’t fit for publication. I trunked it. I wrote another story, queried it, and soon figured out it was in need of rewriting. I shelved it. I wrote another story, truly believed in it, queried it widely, raked in some requests and then some “This is lovely, but I just didn’t fall in love” rejections. I revised, then revised again, queried some more, raked in some more requests. And then… THEN…

I scheduled¬†a vacation with my family. I resolved not to stress about writing, not to query, not even THINK about querying. I climbed on a plane with my kiddo and turned off my phone. I flew, then landed. I turned my phone back on. And, of course, there was an email from one of the agents who’d been reading my full: I’d like to schedule a phone call to talk about your story.

Isn’t that always the way it is? When you stop obsessing, big things happen.

I spoke to the agent on April 29th while I was in Georgia, the day my husband graduated from Ranger School. She offered representation. Naturally, I was thrilled. A fun¬†side note:¬†A¬†few months ago, my husband and I set goals for 2011. His was to get through Ranger School. Mine was to sign with a literary agent. Though I didn’t actually sign with an agent on that day, I had serious interest. It was as if my husband and I both hit our goals right at the same time, and it was very cool.

I happen to have a picture from April 29th (because all blog posts are better with pictures!).

After speaking with the offering agent, I emailed the agents who were reading partials or fulls of my manuscript and asked them to get back to me within ten days (serious torture for an impatient girl like me!).

Turns out¬†the wait was worth it. Another offer came in about a week later, from Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management. Vickie had been at the top of my list since I started reading her blog a few months ago. (She has awesome taste in YA literature and does a fantastic Wednesday Reads series. Check it out!) When we spoke on the phone the next day, I just knew¬†she’d be amazing to work with. She’s¬†friendly, smart,¬†collaborative, and has¬†some incredibly thoughtful revision ideas for my story.¬†Still, I made myself think, really consider my choice from all angles, and as much as I liked the first agent who offered, I kept coming back to the same conclusion: I wanted to work with Vickie.

It was seriously difficult to contain my enthusiasm when I emailed her to accept her offer of representation.

Me and my I-Have-An-Agent Bubbly!

So, now I’m agented (so surreal!) and I get to tackle another revision of Where Poppies Bloom, (one recommended by Vickie :)). I can’t wait to get started!

RTW: Music and the WIP

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‚ÄėBlog Carnival,‚Äô where¬†YA Highway‚Äôs contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody‚Äôs unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: If your WIPs were a song, which song would they be?

I hope I’m not alone in the enormous¬†amounts of time I spend searching for, downloading, and listening to the ideal songs for my works in progress. There’s something about the perfect playlist that sets the stage and gets me in the mood to write. Each of my WIPs have a playlist, and on those playlists there’s a song or two that speaks so perfectly to what I’m writing that it almost becomes a theme of sorts.

Take Cross My Heart (formerly Loving Max Holden), currently in re-writes.¬†There’s lots of country on the playlist because Love Interest Max is totally into classic country (as am I¬†:)), but there’s one song in particular that sets the¬†mood for the story: Taylor Swift’s Mary’s Song (Oh My My My). It’s all about growing up and falling in love with your next door neighbor. My favorite lyrics: Take me back to the creek beds we turned up / Two A.M. riding in your truck and all I need is you next to me / Take me back to the time we had our very first fight/ The slamming of doors instead of kissing goodnight / You stayed outside till the morning light…

The manuscript I’m currently querying, Where Poppies Bloom, has a sort of dark and depressing playlist, which is appropriate to the mood of the story. The song that rings truest–the song that makes me think of¬†Poppies¬†every single time I hear it–is The Band Perry’s If I Die Young. My favorite lyrics: A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I‚Äôll sell them for a dollar / They‚Äôre worth so much more after I‚Äôm a goner / And maybe then you‚Äôll hear the words I been singin‚Äô / Funny when your dead how people start listenin‚Äô…

My latest and greatest, Bus WIP!!! and I are still getting to know each other, but I’m just about 7K in and I’m starting to get into a groove. Bus WIP!!! has a playlist full of songs about coming into your own, growing up, and discovering who you are. Like the songs on my Poppies¬†playlist, they tend to be on the slightly depressing side (Jeez… what’s with me and my penchant for painful music?), but there’s a glimmer of hope in most of them too. The song I’m currently loving most on¬†this playlist¬† is Anna Nalick’s Breathe (2AM). ¬†My favorite lyrics: “Just a day,” he said down to the flask in his fist / “Ain’t been sober, since maybe October of last year.” / Here in town you can tell he’s been down for a while / But, my God, it’s so beautiful when the boy smiles / Wanna hold him… Maybe I’ll just sing about it…

So, if your WIP was a song, which one would it be?