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I have a new blog! It's over at my new website. So make sure to go over there for new posts as this blog will be closing soon!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Monday: Bruno Mars

Welcome back from Thanksgiving break.  I hope you had your fill of food, family and fun!  I know I did.  I had a blast at my DH's boss's house.  And I had deep fried turkey for the first time EVER.  I LOVED it.   I know, I know, completely redneck, but I suppose that's what I am.  :D  I ate entirely too much of everything.   And later that night I did it all over again at my parents'. 

I didn't get any writing done, then again, I wasn't planning to.  :D  I started in on my TBR pile and made a dent, only to fill it again during the black Friday sales.  What can I say?  I'm a glutton for punishment.  However, I think I'd be willing to go by death by book.  :D

A friend of DH's gave us enough pies and bread to last at least a year, if not longer.  And not just pumpkin!  But apple, blueberry, cherry, etc.  I think if any of you see me, I'll look like a giant ball with arms and legs.

Anyway, enough about me, what did you do this Thanksgiving? 

Since I'm getting close to 250 followers, I want to remind you I'll be doing a large give-away! Partially because I reached 250 followers and also because I missed my 1 year blogversary.  So make sure to pass the word that I'm here.  :D

And now, without further adieu, this week's selection for Music Monday.

This song is on Artifact Spirit's playlist because no matter what the "Evil stepmother" does to Mai, Del loves her "just the way she is." 

Hope you enjoy. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Week

Hi guys!  *waves*  Just a quick post today to tell you I'm taking this week off from blogging.  I will be back next week with more advice, a few book reviews, and other such wonderful things.  If you're still waiting on contest goodies to be mailed to you,  my email program deleted some emails and I lost addresses.  PLEASE, please, please email me again with your addy so I can get these winnings out to you.  Thanks. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two more blog awards

I keep meaning to post these, but I never remember!  So, I'm doing it now.

Both of them come from another writing friend and the wonderful things she's said about me and my blog made me teary.  So thank you Dorothy Dreyer!

The first is a strange award.  No really that's what it's called!  And I LOVED this one.  It's SOO true!  I'm a bit strange and I celebrate it gladly!

 The next one is a beautiful Life is Good award and comes with questions, so here ya go:


1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?
No I love being open about my blog.  Besides that would completely ruin the point of wanting everyone to know who I am!  :D

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side:
My husband would be able to answer that better than I can.  ; )

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
A little girl who wonders why she's looking at old, fat girl.  :D

4. What is your favourite summer cold drink?
Arnold Palmers:  1/2 lemonade, 1/2 iced tea

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Read a book in the bath or hot tub. Or go horseback riding in the woods.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
Getting published.  Getting published.  And...oh yeah, getting published. :D

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?
I was the shy one.  People thought I was rude and prissy because I was too nervous to speak to anyone.  And I always had a book with me so I wouldn't HAVE to talk to anyone.  I was just too shy, though.  If they'd come up and talked to me, I would have talked back.  I like making new friends.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?
Poignant as in touching, not poignant as in sad: the births of my children.
  (BTW, I totally stole this answer from Dorothy, because it's exactly right.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
I don't know.  I guess it's just easier to use myself as an example, but I can do both fairly easily, so...I don't know.   

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Definetely read.  I hate talking on the phone.  It makes me feel weird with all the silences that must be filled.  Give me a good book and a cold drink and I'm good to go.

So now I'm supposed to pass these on to other bloggers.  Here's my lovely list.  

The girls from Oasis For YA:

* Jessie  at The Daily Harrell
* Sheri at Writer’s Ally
* Nikki of her self-titled blog
* AE Rought at Love, Light and Shadows
Other writer friends
* Liz Czukas at her self-titled blog
* Larissa Hardesty at Larissa's World
* Jaclyn Dolamore at her self titled blog
* Kristi LaPointe at Mommy Barbie
* Adventure's In Children's Publishing
* Leah Crichton at her self titled blog
* MJ Heiser at Dispatches from Jaenrye
* Slushpile hero
* Jody Hedlund at her self-titled blog
* Lynn Rush at Catch the Rush
* Jordan Deen at her self titled blog

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Make your own luck? Or a roll of the dice

There is no such thing as luck, someone once told me. You make your own luck. By working hard and never giving up, you’ll always succeed. And for the longest time I believed that was true. And I proved them—and myself—correct at every turn.

Did I want to make it through boot camp? Work harder! Did I want to succeed at breast-feeding? Never give up! So when I decided to write professionally, I applied these two logics. Work harder and never give up.

For nine months, I spent every second I could spare writing, critiquing, revising, editing, rewriting. Until, by chance, I found a post about my soon-to-be agent. And this weird tingle tickled my stomach, so I sent off my query with partial, though it went against my own rule to not snail mail unless specifically requested. And my other rule not to send to non-responders, which is lucky I did, because about a month later I was offered representation.

So, some of you are saying, what’s the point? We’ve heard this all before. I know. ;) But see, even then I didn’t believe in luck. I worked hard on that MS. I wrote, rewrote, revised, edited, and suffered through a few rejections. Plus I visit that site every day. I was bound to find an agent through there. ☺

Well, about 2 months ago, I was sitting watching my son playing a video game, struggling through a story that was kicking my butt, and it hit me. The what if question all us writers get. And that question was, what if a little girl was stolen from the surface and dragged to live with this monstrous woman who brainwashed her in this underwater utopia/dystopia?

I immediately started plotting it out. Obviously, it quickly mutated and is completely different than that first what if question, but I couldn’t stop. Even when my agent sent me revision notes on two of my other stories, so we could go back out on submission, I had the hardest time pulling myself away from the computer.

I even brought my laptop with to RWA Nationals so I could keep writing. My characters wouldn’t shut up. And then the most amazing thing happened, the story changed AGAIN.

I realized I was writing in my most hated of writing styles. First person, present tense. And that it was good! I couldn’t get myself to write in past. No matter what I did, I always reverted back to present tense. And Evie, the MC, had this most amazing voice. It was formal and informal at the same time. So, I gave up. And wrote it the way it wanted.

Even though I’d plotted it out, things changed while I was writing it. It went from mildly dark, to darn near pitch black at the end. And still it wasn’t enough. I had to go back through the MS again, and again. To get it right.

In the meantime, it’s gone back to my critique group, who loved it. Then my most trusted critique partner, who fixed the few present tense slips. And then when I was pretty sure it was perfect, it went off to betas. And all reports back are: It’s great. When can I buy it?

Now it’s in the hands of my awesome agent, and I’m nervous as hell, because it’s unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever written before. But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever written.

And I STILL can’t get the story out of my head.

I just have to hope Natalie likes it and some editor snatches it up, because this has proven beyond a doubt that while hard work and never giving up are important, luck goes hand in hand with it.

Being in the right place at the right time means everything.

So, share with me. What’s your opinion? Is there luck? Or do we make our own luck?

Also, I'm in two places at once.  I'm here and over at Makin' Baby Grand talking about World-building in YA Science Fiction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My hero: J.K. Rowling.

So, just a quick blog post today because I’m still in post-Harry Potter bliss.  Last night I went to an advanced screening of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I” and let me tell you, it was AWESOME.  Seriously and truly.
That, of course, prompted this blog post, because J.K. Rowling is my hero.  And I mean that.  I honestly don’t use that term lightly, but J.K. Rowling deserves it.  The fact that she started writing HP on napkins, on the train, and…everything else she did.  Then, to know her UK publisher gave her a teeny, tiny advance for it and it didn’t do very well at first, only to be picked up by Scholastic and do what it did…yeah, makes me realize that fairy tales do come true.
Also, the fact that she isn’t afraid to hurt her characters in a way that moves the story makes me envious.  I have such a hard time hurting my characters, but it’s necessary.  And I have to remind myself they’re not real. LOL.
If there was one person in the world I would want to meet and just talk to it would be her.  Because she seems so nice, despite having all the fame and money she could want.  And the fact that her writing has spurned hundreds of thousands of kids to read.  Yep, don’t think I could have picked a better hero.
Also, this probably isn't going to  happen, but I'm actually trying really, really hard to see if I can get an interview with her.  Like I said, it's probably just wishful thinking, but I can try.  Hasn't she taught us that nothing is impossible, no matter how improbable?
So, my lovelies, who’s your hero?  And why?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Artifact Spirit

Here's another scene from my current WIP.  It's rough, as it's my NaNoWriMo novel, but hopefully you'll still enjoy it.

Mai felt a jolt, then another.  And another.  And she opened her eyes and looked down her body.  There stood Analise, slowly chipping away at Mai's body with a hammer and chisel.  The bisque--brown, hardened clay--that had surrounded her metal innards, flying in every which direction.
Mai wanted to close her eyes tight against the view, but she was as fascinated as she was horrified.   It did not hurt, what they were doing, but neither did it feel good.  It was, to put it gently, uncomfortable.
The boy that had placed her on the table was working on her arm.  Though his hands and muscles were larger than the woman's, he was more gentle.  Delicately carving off the bisque, one layer at a time until Mai's shiny metal bone structure showed.

The sound of her skin cracking was worse than she could possibly imagine.  There was no possible way to describe how much it hurt her.  Not physically.  There was only pressure physically.  But mentally, she was broken by the sound.

They were taking away who she was with their chisels, picks, and hammers.  She'd been special.  Different.  Beautiful.  Now?  She had no clue what she'd look like.  She only knew, if she could weep, she would.

She wanted to yank away, but the straps holding her to the table allowed no movement.  Besides, what was the point of fighting now.  They'd already done their damage.  And she'd been forbidden by the goddess to reveal herself to those not of the

Mai stared up at the ceiling, doing everything she could to block the sound of the cracking from her ears.  Apparently the goddess had been wrong.  It was not more dangerous to reveal herself to people not of the Adair family.  Who knew what other horrors would await her if she did.

After what felt like an eternity later the cracking finally stopped.  Analise stepped back into Mai's view and she smiled down at her, placing her hand along Mai's cheek.

"Such a shame about this pretty face, though." She narrowed her eyes at Mai.  "I wonder if there's a way to pull this back off without cracking it."

Mai watched as the woman, grabbed the edge of her face, right under the chin, and tugged lightly.  A smile formed on the woman's face, then she turned and went to a little work table off to the side and came back with a little machine that had a serrated circle on one end.  On the other was something Mai didn't know what it was.  But when Analise pressed a lever on the side of the device, it hissed and a cloud of steam billowed from the back of it.

The circle started spinning and Mai whimpered when Analise brought it close to Mai's neck.  Since the woman didn't stop, Mai assumed the sound was lost in the whine from the machine.
Analise place the rotating circle right underneath Mai's jaw, and Mai felt a vibration as the whine from the machine grew louder and a blanket of dust erupted from it.

The vibrating moved up the side of her face, past her eye, at the hairline above her forehead and back down the other side, exactly as she'd come up.
Mai fought to keep her eyes open and unstaring, but she couldn't help but follow the path Analise took.  However, the woman was so focused on her task, she didn't seem to notice.

When the woman put the machine down, Mai, closed her eyes briefly.  She knew what was coming and she wasn't happy about it.

Analise put her hands on either side of Mai's head and slowly lifted the painted porcelain, that was Mai's face.  Analise turned it to face her and Mai stared at it.  This would be the last time she saw it.  Something that had been a part of her for a hundred years.  That made her, her was gone.

The woman clicked her tongue, then sighed.  "Don't worry, sweet thing." She patted Mai's metal structure.  "Analise is going to put this in a safe spot for you."  She smiled down at Mai, then set the porcelain on the desk.  "Now let's peel back this hair, so we can put that aside as well.  It's so beautiful.  I think they used real hair.  We'll have to make sure to do the same with your new ones.  Only the best for you."

Analise moved behind Mai's head, and Mai couldn't see her anymore.  However she did feel the tug and hear the ripping of the cloth that held her elaborate hair style in place as it tore from her metal skull.
The sound echoed through her and she finally just wanted to close her eyes and keep them that way.  However, without her face, there were no lids to keep her from seeing.
But that didn't matter for long, because Analise reached her suprisingly nimble fingers for those brown colored orbs and pulled them out of the sockets.
Mai didn't know if it was a curse or a blessing that she couldn't see the rest of what was happening to her.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Music Monday: Christina Aguillera

Okay, so... last week kinda sucked.  LOL.  My computer decided that it didn't want to work anymore.  And I had to take it to the doctor.  Thankfully, a box full of cookies to the technician gave me my baby back sooner than was supposed to happen and we're back on schedule.

So, here's a song from my new story's playlist--though I'm not sure it will be on the actual playlist I add to my website.  But it's great.

Also, I'm over at the Oasis, where I've interviewed one of my absolutely favorite authors, Rachel Vincent.  I'm also giving away a copy of her book, My Soul To Take over there.  So, please comment.  Thanks.

And, for the winners of my Banned Book Month giveaway, my computer ate your addressess, will you please email me again at j.souders (at) jasouders (dot) com.  I will be mailing them the minute you send me your addressess and I apologize for how late this is.  My life has been a bit of a mess since then, but I think I'm finally getting back on track.  :D

Monday, November 8, 2010

Music Monday: Avril Lavigne

As you can probably tell Avril Lavigne is one of my favorite musicians.  And here's another one that has come in handy during revisions of RENEGADE.  It's perfect for it and no matter how many times I listen to it, I don't get bored with it and switch to another song.

It's from the soundtrack of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  Yes, I loved that movie.  And yes I'm mad the Hatter and Alice didn't hook up.  I mean, WTH Tim Burton?

Also, this month the Oasis and I are doing a drive for books for different charities.  All you have to do is go here and read the instructions.  Or click on the button on my sidebar.  We're giving points for each book and there are a lot of great prizes to win.  So please "Give Thanks, Give books."  And don't forget to tweet about it with the hashtag #givebooks.  Even if that's all you can do, we'd really appreciate it.  Thanks.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fun Friday: Grocery Store Wars

As many of you know, I'm a full-blood nerd.  I love all things...nerdy!  If you didn't know, now you do.  And I think this sums up my nerdy sense of humor perfectly.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Remember to be thankful, even when we don't think we can.

NOTE:  Oops!  This was actually supposed to be posted at the Oasis.  But things happen for a reason, so it's now posted in both places.  But I would absolutely love it, if you commented over there.  You can comment here, too, but we'd like to hear from you over there, as well.  Thanks!

Today I’m going to do something a bit different.  I wasn’t sure what to write today and so I just put my fingers to the keyboard and came up with this.  I hope that’s okay.

This Thankful Thursday is the first in a month set aside to be thankful.  For us to remember to be thankful for the things that have happened to make us who we are.  Whether they are good things.  Or bad things.

And it’s the start of a season that is set aside for us to be more giving.  Granted we should be that way all year, but no matter your religion November and December are those months that we spend a few extra minutes each day trying to harder to be the best people we can be.  Or at least I hope so.  J

Sometimes that’s hard.  Especially when so many things around us are going wrong and we see someone who’s doing so much better than us.  Which face it, it happens all the time in writing.

Three years ago, we were struggling with the onset of my daughter’s illness and no one knew what was going on.  I was frustrated, exhausted and fighting with my frustrated and exhausted husband.  Every where we’d turn, new parents were happily playing with their seemingly well-behaved children, while we were struggling to maintain our sanity with a child who seemed to hate sleep and loathe being in anyone’s arms, but mine.

Then came the worst days of our lives, the day we learned my daughter’s heart was enlarged and possibly failing.  We spent the next several months in and out of hospitals, until we found out she had systemic JRA.

Now every day is a struggle.  Is it going to be a good day, or a bad one?  But through it all I’ve tried to remain grateful.  Some days are easier than others, but every night before bed I try to think of one thing I'm grateful for.  Even if that one thing is I'm grateful for the day to be over with. 

But here's a list of the things I'm most grateful for because of this.  I'm grateful for the fact that I was observant enough to know there was something wrong with my daughter, besides being cranky, and insisted the Dr’s run more tests to find out what was wrong.  For the doctor who finally listened to me and saw the enlarged heart.  For the countless Doctors and nurses since then.

For my family, who’s stood by me and her, through it all.  For my husband, for helping me make sure the Drs listened, for my daughter, who despite her illness is the sweetest child ever, and for my writing, which has helped me keep my sanity through it all.

So let’s hear it.  What event in your life was awful and what are you thankful for because of it?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Winner of Personal Demons

Okay, guys, just a short post today.  I was going to do another review and a giveaway, but life got the best of me.  I'll do it next week instead.

So, the part you've all been waiting for. The winner of PERSONAL DEMONS is Heather M.!  Congrats, Heather!! Email me at j.souders (at) jasouders (dot) com to give me your address.  And I'll mail out your copy as soon as I get to the post office, which tends to take a bit for me, so give me a little time.

As far as everyone else, thank you for helping me with this contest.  I hope you'll join me next week for another book review and giveaway.

Also, if you have any ideas of things you'd like to see me talk about or do, or whatever, feel free to email me or comment below.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Artifact Spirit

Hi, guys, today is special. Well, special for me, anyway. :D I'm releasing the first part of ch.1 of my nano book. It's EXTREMELY rough as I just wrote it yesterday and it's in 3rd person, which I'm not the best at yet, but I like to challenge myself.

ARITIFACT SPIRIT is a steampunk story about a clockwork doll who has come alive after 100 years of being loved and cared for by the Adair family--the royal family in my fictional European Victorian Age kingdom. It is based on the Japanese myth of the Tsukumogami and Cinderella--with a few changes of my own.

Without further adieu, Scene 1 of Chapter 1 of ARTIFACT SPIRIT.

Delaney wanted to cover his ears with his hands and shout, "Will you three please stop your incessant, senseless chattering!" but he knew the resultant outcome would not be beneficial. Then their incessant ramblings would only turn to shouts, which would bring his father.

Since he didn't feel like explaining why he shouted at the trio of women, something a gentleman did not do under any circumstance, it was far easier to just endure.

And endure he was.

Ever since his father had come home with Lady Mallory Novelle and her two pampered wretches--daughters--he'd quietly done as was bid of him. Including relocating to the other side of his home. As far away from the twin terrors as possible without vacating the residence.

However, it hadn't been for his father's new wife as much as it had been for his own sanity. He could tell, even then, that his life was about to change completely. He just didn't realize how much.

Now, just a few weeks later, he strode through the home that had belonged in his mother's family for centuries, giving his new sisters and mother an official tour. His father had insisted he do everything to make the three feel welcome and apparently that included being open to their beck and call.

When they reached the ballroom on the first floor, Del paused by the carved mahogany doors. A lance of pain and grief stabbed into him. This had been his mother's domain. Her most prized area. Not just because of the lavish parties she would host, but because of the menagerie of dolls that adorned the stage.

It felt wrong to be bringing the woman that had replaced her to it, but he had no choice but to continue. Lady Novelle was already pushing open the door. A sure sign that she was not the lady her name suggested she was. A really lady would not open a door with a man present. A look of disgust appeared on her face when a cloud of dust erupted from the space.

She inhaled and then started a fit of coughing. Del couldn't help but be pleased her lack of manners had come back to bite her, though he offered his handkerchief. She yanked it from his hand and brought it up to her nose, before gesturing for Del to light the lamps.

Once he did she continued over the once glossy wood floors that were now covered in inches of dust.

"What is this? It's disgusting," Cassandra the blond of the two twins, said. Her nasily voice echoed through out the large room as did the click of their booted feet as the trio walked further in.

Del stiffened, fighting back the urge to tell her the shut her mouth. That real ladies were seen but not heard, but it would be lost on them. "It is the ballroom. It was my Mother's favorite place." He frowned, not exactly sure why he felt the need to them the last part.

Lady Novelle ran a white gloved hand along the dark wainscoting on the silk-papered walls. She wrinkled her nose at the layer of grime now coating the tip of her finger.

"It looks quite neglected," she said, with a superior look on her face that had Del been any less of a gentleman he would have had the urge to knock it right of her face.

"Yes," he said, keeping his face blank, but his fingers clenched into his trousers. "She didn't like anyone but herself to wind the dolls. When she took ill, she tried her best to keep doing it, quickly became too much for her."

"What an idiot," said Narcissa, the dark haired twin. Her voice was just as nasally as her sisters, but it also had a high-pitched whine to it at all times. Del had to fight a wince when she spoke, it was like listening to nails on a slate board. "Why didn't she just use the servants? That's their job."

Del's hands tightened as did his jaw. A little tick fluttered in his cheek. "The dolls are old and precious to her. She trusted no one with them."

The girl rolled her eyes, then they widened. "Did you say dolls? What kinds of dolls?"

He regretted instantly that he'd told them about them, but there was nothing to be done. He gestured toward the raised stage on the far end of the room. "Be my guest," he said.

The two girls raced across the room, clamoring to get to the dolls first. They tripped and fought with each other each pushing the other straight off the stairway, before finally making it to the top.

Lady Novelle and Del followed more sedately. The former giving them looks of indulgence and the latter scowling at their completely unladylike behavior. Had he any sisters, his mother would not have tolerated that sort of behavior.

These...girls were to be the newest to the Adair line? Didn't exactly give one confidence in the future.

Del walked to the side of the stage and turned the knobs for the stage lamps. Gaslight glowed from the many lamps aimed at the stage, revealing the dozen or so clockwork dolls.

Beautiful, life-sized clockwork dolls made for the express purpose of entertaining guests as they danced across the stage.

"Those aren't dolls," Narcissa said. "They're too big. And...they're ugly. Why are their faces all white. And what are they wearing? Pajamas." She scrunched up her face and lifted her nose in the air.

"They are clockwork dolls. They dance," Del said, calmly despite the storm raging in him. He touched the oldest, and most favored of his mother's dolls, letting his hand rest on the cool somehow very flesh-like skin of the dolls wrist.

"This was her favorite," he told them, staring into the doll's brown eyes. It's a hundred years old. A gift from my great-grandfather to his wife for their wedding anniversary.

He brought it back from his travels to the East. It is dressed as a Japanese Geisha in her traditional garb." He turned his attention to Cassandra. "They are not pajamas."

"They dance?" asked Cassandra. "How?"

Del reached behind the doll to the large key in the middle of her back. He gave it a few quick turns and stepped back.

With clinks and a few grinding gears, the doll straightened, seemingly staring at Del for a few seconds before moving toward the girls, who squealed and ran to clutch at their mother's skirt.

"What is it doing?" Lady Novelle asked.

Del smiled, watching the dolls intricate movements. "It's performing a kabuki dance. A traditional Japanese dance." He remembered watching her perform the dances over and over again. Enthralled that something made of porcelain and metal, was so beautiful and lithe. She appeared now as she did then, as real as he. He could almost feel like she was watching him as he watched her. Not for the first time, he felt the urge to dance with her, but now was not the time.

"It's awful," Cassandra said. "I don't like it. Make it stop."

Before Delaney could say or do anything the doll stopped in her original position. The clicking of her clockwork innards still echoed throughout the room, but she didn't budge. Not one gear.

"It's broken," Narcissa said. "Good. She's horrible looking." She turned to sneer at Del. "Your mother had dreadful taste."

Del narrowed his eyes. "It appears she wasn't the only one. My father seems to have it as well." Then he spun on his heal and marched from the room, his back ramrod stiff.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Music Monday: Secrets

And...we're back to our regularly scheduled program.  Today I'm showing off one of my new favorite songs.  I LOVE, love, love it.  It's also in the soundtrack to one of my new favorite movies, The Sorcer's Apprentice.  I don't know why it was a flop.  So sad.

I was going to use it in my sequel to EXILED's playlist, however, I think that it's better placed in RENEGADE's, since Evie has A LOT of secrets.

So, without further adieu.  Here it is.  SECRETS by One Republic.