Friday Five: Taking a Deep Breath

The absolute best thing about the past week has been the lull in my freelance work schedule. It was pretty hairy there for a month! (That's what happens when you say "yes" to just about every assignment you're offered...) So, the Friday Five has to start with: 

1) Having time to get everything done each day, without feeling freaked out or overwhelmed. Plus extra time for my current book-in-progress! I'm probably halfway through this first-draft/first-revision—it's a mix of new writing and revising—and I'm starting to sound like a broken record for how much I'm in love with this project. 

2) Next, a pat on the back: last Friday, I started the 30-Day Shred. After a cold, comfort-food-filled winter (and, frankly, a sedentary and junk-food-filled 2015), I wanted to see if I could reboot my body and rebuild my cardio endurance a bit. But here's the thing: I really don't like to exercise. I love taking dance classes and yoga classes, but the whole jogging/weights thing—not my favorite. So I am rather pumped that I've made it to Day 8 without missing a single workout, even when it was absolutely miserable. More on this next week... 

3) I've been writing on Thursday mornings with the charming and talented Lance Rubin, and yesterday, we both really enjoyed the cafe's 80s/90s classic rock Pandora station. Never mind that I was working on a very emotionally charged scene... each new tune made me smile. Phil Collins! Chicago! George Michael! Whoever it is that sings "Total Eclipse of the Heart!" It was a blast, even if the mood was all wrong for my WIP. 

4) Broadchurch season 2. Just as devastating as season 1, with the added perk of seeing the actor who plays Jarvis on Agent Carter in a *very* different context. 

5) Oh, books... I read two really lovely, inspiring books this week.

It was a pretty sure bet that I'd fall in love with Jennifer Longo's UP TO THIS POINTE. It's about a ballerina who runs away to Antarctica's McMurdo Station after realizing that her plan for her life (first up: a company contract with San Francisco Ballet) might not work out after all. The story jumps back and forth between the lead-up to Harper's fateful SFB audition and the present day at McMurdo, where she gets into Winter-Over shenanigans (there are penguins!) while also rebuilding her broken spirit. One thing I loved about this book was how unflinching it was in forcing Harper to face the facts about her future. Being passionate about something doesn't mean you're destined to find success at it—an issue I also tackle in HOW IT FEELS TO FLY—and yet having to change your life plan doesn't mean your life is over. UP TO THIS POINTE is filled with honesty and hope. 

Another sure bet: Natalie Lloyd's THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY. Natalie's an auto-buy for me. Her debut, A SNICKER OF MAGIC, was in my top 10 books of 2014. Her follow-up is heartfelt and heartwrenching, a winsome love song to a small mountain town and its occupants—especially protagonist Emma Pearl Casey. Every woman in Emma's family has had the Destiny Dream, and before Emma's mama passed away, she predicted that Emma would discover her destiny at a young age. The last thing Emma expects is for her dream to ask her to find buried treasure, but with the future of her Granny Blue's Boneyard Cafe on the line, she gathers her friends and goes treasure-hunting. This book has ghosts and magical flowers, laughter and music and love, and there were definitely a couple moments that made me tear up. I adored it.

What's got you smiling this week?