Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moving in to a New Year

Well, Christmas is over and I didn't get all that I asked for, but I have hope for 2012.  I have a good job, an amazing husband and two wonderful children. What more could a person ask for, right? Of course, there are a few things, but too mundane to share on here.  So, I am thinking about my New Year's resolutions. I have a few.

1. lose weight - but don't we all place that on our lists? I know I have since I was nine, but that is a totally different blog topic.

2. read more - I go through phases of reading.  Sometimes I read three books in a week, and then I don't read for three months.  I would like to be more consistent.

3. write more - I need to make time to write consistently.  My job can be time consuming and soul sucking at times, which keeps me from writing at night.  My kids help in that department as well.  I'd like to get a solid three days a week of writing in this year.

4. be my own cheerleader - as a writer, it's very easy to get discouraged and encouraged within minutes. I need to remember that if I don't write, no one is going to write it for me.  I also need to remind myself that I am my own advocate.  I want to maintain a positive presence while sticking to my goals and not giving up on myself.

5. be a better mom - I think all moms have room for improvement. For me it involves patience.  I tend to have a quick fuse with my own children mainly because I can't lose it on the kids at school.

6. make more time for my husband - in a crazy schedule of mothering, reading, writing, grading, etc. I need to remember that he came first (always).

That's it for my resolutions. I think they are ones I can stick with. 

I do have the same as last year - find agent, get published, etc. but that will happen when it's supposed to - God will let it happen.

Happy New Year everyone!

PS what are your resolutions? Share and compare...we can support each other.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pretending

Perhaps it's the time of year that makes me reflect on my life, but tonight I'm more pensive than normal.  I just finished watching Something Borrowed and realize that I am Rachel.  I am not the Alpha in any of my friendships.  All through life, I have been the friend just wanting to make my friends happy.  In college, I had a roommate who dominated everything.  She was the lease holder on our apartment, while I was just a visitor for a year.  When she wanted entertaining, I was there to fill the gaping hole for her. Whenever I tried to assert myself, she fought back making me feel as though I had done something wrong.  Then I moved.  My next roommate did the same.  Then I met my husband who treated me as an equal in the relationship.  I loved and still love him wholeheartedly.  We still play equal roles in the relationship.  But when it comes to friendships, not much has changed.  My current "best friend" is a great person, but I still get the impression that I'm not equal and I am guilty for allowing it to be this way. I pretend to be Alpha - in my classroom and as a writer, but never with my friends.  I pretend to be dominant, when really I sit back and let life happen around me.  Querying is much the same, but that is because we can't be aggressive as writers when it comes to someone else evaluating our work.  We must sit back and wait.  I gain control in my life through writing, though imagine every character I write is a little bit of me.  The same insecurities.  The same passive nature.  The same everything.  The difference is that I can write them changing their ways.  I can make them brave. I can make them assert themselves and the outcome is good.  Why is it that I can write it, but I can't say it? I don't know the answer to that question.  What I do know is that writing is empowering.  It allows me to be someone I'm not.  It allows me to behave aggressively when in reality I sit quietly waiting for a reaction.  I honestly think (no I know) that I am not the only person like this.  I've yet to meet an author who is overly confident with no insecurities. Is that what brings us together as a community?  Do we then pretend we fit into different roles within that community when the reality is that we share a common role?  Yesterday I read an article about why writers SHOULD self-publish.  I've read a lot of these articles and months ago, I believed in what I read.  But the reality is that most of the articles reflect someone who is trying so hard to receive approval for that decision.  I know I was three clicks away from self-publishing, but something in the back of mind stopped me telling me that that's not the approval I was/am looking for. I want someone to say "this is good".  Ok I know this is bearing a bit of my soul, but it's the truth.  And I would much rather read what someone has written from the heart than what they think someone wants to hear.  Anyway, as I said before, this may be more reflective because of the season.  I'm sure it is and tomorrow I will want to take this post down, but for today I speak the truth.  I write to connect and make other people know that we are not alone.  To be human means to have feelings.  I am more than a little human at this given point in time. And now, I stop writing this post and go back to my Christmas wish.  Santa, I want to be published.  Please send me an agent/editor who will appreciate me and my writing for what it is - honest.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I know I'm 35 and a bit old to be writing you, but in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I would send you a note. Before I ask for anything, I want to say thank you for allowing me to have a healthy family for Christmas.  I know my in laws aren't coming this year, but we are still able to spend time as a family this month.  Our Elf on the Shelf, Elliott, has been a wonderful addition to the family and he's been watching the children so closely, I'm sure you know they have their ups and downs, but generally speaking, they are truly wonderful kids.  I love them both with all my heart.  My husband has been carrying on your spirit so wonderfully this year. He's truly been working himself to the bone wanting nothing more than to make us all happy.  What he may not know is that we could have nothing, and I'd still be happy with just his love.  He's the best thing that has ever happened to me.

As far as presents go, Amber wants an American Girl doll that looks like her and Nate wants a bike.  I know for fact that their dreams will come true.  My husband wants nothing more than a bottle of cologne, so that will happen as well.  As for me...I am completely content with husband and children.  Of course, I am not foolish to lie and say I don't want anything, but what I want can't be purchased. I want to be published.  I know this is nothing you can do, but what I do know is that I can work my hardest and never give up, so what I want this Christmas is the faith that it will happen in my lifetime.  That is it. 

Christmas is my favorite time of year and I thank you for the Christmas spirit.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing my children and the people I love happy.  Thank you.

Merry Christmas,
Jamie

Monday, December 5, 2011

December Crazy

Is anyone else feeling a little frantic with December on us?  The semester is winding down, I have a few sticks in the fire with my writing, and Christmas is right around the corner.  Yikes! December is crazy time, yet, it's also my favorite time of the year.  Today, my classes were discussing the spirit of Christmas and the season of good will.  I had to create a metaphor for them to understand where I was coming from, so I thought I'd share it with you all. 

Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.  My family has gone twice and each time, it always amazes me how people are genuinely kinder inside the park.  Our first time going, we rented two strollers for our kids (they were 4 and 6 at the time).  We loaded up the strollers with backpacks and other belongings worried about leaving them unattended while we were on the rides.  To our surprise, people just don't touch the strollers.  We even left our strollers for a couple of hours to reserve our seats for Fantasmic.  When we returned they were completely untouched.  There is a magic in the air preventing people from breaking the law.  It's amazing and refreshing reinforcing the notion that it's definitely the happiest place on earth. 

The same can be said for Christmas.  This time of year brings a feeling of hope and charity to so many who normally are rather selfish.  I listen to teenagers every day talk about donating their time to local charities by wrapping donated gifts and later delivering the presents to the needy children.  These kids are proud of themselves for doing good for others.  It makes me smile daily.  Even my own children are asking to pick names off the donation tree to help other children.  There's just something about the season that brings the best out in others.  I can't help but love every moment of it.

So, even though December can be frantic getting ready for the holidays and such, I'm grateful for my family and my life.  I consider myself very fortunate to have what I have and want nothing more than to bring happiness to others.  I do have my own Christmas wishes, and hope they come true, but if they don't that's ok.  My time will come when it's the right time. 

Happy December and I look forward to wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and the best New Year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Chapter Teaser

Thanks to a wonderful critique, I will be posting a revised teaser very soon.

***I've never posted anything I'm working on before, but I'm open to anything new.  What would it take for you to step in front of a car to end it all? This was my motivation***

She watched her feet as she stepped one foot in front of the next along the highway not noticing the perfectly clear sky and the birds singing in the breeze, but rather she laughed at the irony of it all before stepping in front of the traffic causing it all to go dark.  After what felt like forever, she opened her eyes to nothingness all around her confused it wasn’t all over.  She believed once she was gone, it was over and nothing more, but now she seemed awake but surrounded by darkness not quite gone but not anywhere either.  Although her eyes focused, she rubbed them anyway trying to see something, time standing still causing panic to rise in her stomach making her question her ultimate fate, and then the flowers appeared.

Colors seemed to explode before her eyes filling the vast emptiness with a beauty she could hardly imagine.  They were so vibrant she squinted her eyes to adjust to the richness of each shade presenting itself to her like a wonderful gift.  She stood in the nothing surrounded by a rainbow of snapdragons waving in a breeze coming in from her left side making her smile just a little and tickling her cheeks with a warmth she’d never felt before.  Not only was she experiencing sensory overload from their colors, but also she had a sensation of warmth like an afghan on a cold winter’s day wrapped around her shoulders.  Fear was replaced by comfort – a comfort she couldn’t explain, but deep within her soul she could feel that she wasn’t supposed to be afraid.  After blinking again and taking a few deep lingering breaths, a white gazebo sprang up from the ground from nowhere with a wooden bench sitting in its center inviting her over for a rest.  She did as the structure asked walking through the snapdragons over to the bench where she sat and looked around searching for something, anything else.  

Her seat was more comfortable than she could imagine with the down padding and wicker backing to the petite love seat positioned against the middle back of the gazebo’s frame.  It was new and inviting with no dents from others before her.  It was hers and hers alone allowing her to enjoy the flowers around her in silence and no interruptions. The clean crispness of its all white covering made the flowers even more brilliant assuring her that she was meant to be on that couch.  She was meant to be in that gazebo.  There was more to come, but she knew nothing of it.

            After slipping into a floral haze, Alicia returned to wherever she was by the emergence of a large flat viewing screen lowering from the ceiling of the gazebo. It made no sound as it descended, but its appearance was deafening.  Staring at it with no understanding of its origination or purpose, she found herself mesmerized by its existence.  Light flickered on the screen and an Adonis like voice sounded behind her forcing her to look around her location for the owner, but there was no one.  “Alicia, welcome.  Please watch before deciding your fate,” the voice informed before disappearing once again.  His words echoed in her mind.  She didn’t understand the meaning, but there was gravity to the words holding her captive on the sofa before the screen.  Still searching, she found nothing but more and more flowers filling the land around her.  Daisies springing up from the ground scattering large plots of white and yellow seeming to say hello along with scattered pink, purple, red, and yellow roses filled the air with an intoxicating aroma.  The aroma was welcoming easing her tension making her relaxed and open to whatever was to come next.

            Alicia tried to call out to the voice, but she had no words in her throat to form.  She attempted to speak, but there was nothing but silence bringing slight panic to her stomach making her realize for the first time that the one sense missing from the entire scenario was sound.  She wondered if she had lost her ability to hear, but when she opened her mouth once more, she had also lost the ability to speak. The silence was deafening and the notion that she was mute and deaf scared her witless.  Instead of further pursuing her own sounds, she did as the voice instructed and redirected her eyes to the screen with anticipation hoping some form of answers would provide an explanation for her location and situation.  The screen turned sky blue with simple white lettering: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, she read confused beyond compare, but followed along.  YOU MUST WATCH TO DISCOVER TRUTH.  The words filled the screen and held for what felt like an hour, but was really only about thirty seconds.  Alicia didn’t understand what was going on.  She wanted to go somewhere else, but in her mind, she didn’t know where. Fear began to rear its ugly head again, but the sofa and flowers seemed to come alive reassuring her that there was nothing to be afraid of.   She tried to remember where she was before arriving at this mysterious location, but her mind like her voice was absent. There was nothing but fog.  She knew who she was, where she was from, her age, her past, but she couldn’t remember the last 24 hours leading her to no other choice, but to sit and watch as the screen directed – discover the truth…what that means.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Reads for 2011

Well, I have read quite a few books this year, some of which, I can't even remember their names, but today's blog is going to celebrate those reads.  To start, I read the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
What can I say about Hunger Games? It was amazing! I read the entire trilogy in about one week, devouring each word and rushing to the store for each one.  I have since recommended it to dozens of students, teachers, family members, and friends.  Now, I can't wait to see the movie.
The next books I read were the Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.  I've been reading about Vampires since I was a teenager starting with the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.  After reading the Twilight series, I still wanted more leading me to this series.  I recommend it to anyone who loves fangs and blood minus the glitter.  It's rough, fun, and suspenseful all wrapped into one (or 12, but who is counting?)

Another fantastic series is the Immortals by Alyson Noel.  When I first opened Evermore, I was expecting yet another vampire series, but was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't.  Quite frankly, I needed a break for a bit.  The six book series questioned morality in a way that I found refreshing for the Young Adult genre.  When I finished the final book, Everlasting, I was pleased with the ending and the ultimate choice made. These are certainly must reads.

Even after all of these, I had time for yet another series.  I started reading the House of Night series in 2010, and have continued to the present time.  These are also about Vampires, but with a bit of a Harry Potter feel in the sense that it takes place in a school.  I've enjoyed these books as well and look forward to the conclusion of the series.

In my nonseries spare time, I read He Loves Me, He Loves You Not by Lauren Hammond.  It was a quick yet shocking read.  I enjoyed it immensely.  It's not often I am able to find a book that portrays teens in a truly real light. She captured the voice of the youth of today nicely, which is extremely refreshing in its own right.  I have found that the majority of my YA reads romanticize what it means to be a teenager, but as many of you know from reading my blogs, I work with teenagers daily.  He Love Me...is more real than anything else I have read in quite a long time. I will certainly recommend this to my students who are looking for a more realistic read in the future.

Finally, my most recent read, which I finished last night was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  This was certainly not YA, but it piqued my interest, so I took a break from my norm and branched out.  It took me quite some time to get through it, but in the end, it was a satisfying read. There were some rather graphic scenes I could have done without, but I can't imagine the book any other way.  I look forward to beginning yet another series.

While I am sure there are other books I have read and not mentioned, I have been pleased with each one.  I have also had the privilege of reading a few WIPs for some fellow writers I hope to see on the shelves in the next couple of years.  I also have written some of my own as well, so we will see what happens with them.  I do look forward to another year of fabulous reads.  Send your suggestions my way. I'm always looking for something new to read and spread the word about.  With 2500 students at an arm's reach, I certainly can convince a few to read with me.  Have a wonderful night! I'm going to go read.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us and you can practically hear the bustle in the air of the shoppers, decorators, and travelers moving about all with one thing one their minds...Christmas.  Thanksgiving proved to be yet another wonderful meal, this time we entertained my in-laws for the first time in 13 years and my best friend with her two sons.  When we sat down for dinner, we went around the table saying what we were grateful for.  I'm so grateful for my husband and children along with the rest of my family.  We are in good health and extremely blessed to have a warm home with clothes and beds to sleep in.  The sentiments were similar all the way around.

 We had a great time watching football while eating turkey and pumpkin cheesecake.  My husband, best friend, and I stayed up and went shopping last night at 10pm first braving one major store (which didn't end up well), and then we stood with hundreds of other shoppers outside Target for over an hour in the cold waiting for the main doors to open.  Once inside, we followed the crowd like fish swimming upstream.  It was madness making our way to the toy and electronics departments hoping to get everything we had on the mental list.  We were for the most part successful.  I am confident that my children are shopped for and will be elated on Christmas morning.  We crawled into bed at 2:30 this morning and were up with the sun to meet the painter at our rental house arranging for the entire inside to be painted with hopes of getting a renter in before Christmas.  I was exhausted.

I thought for sure I would make it through the day with a mere nap midway through, but I crashed at 9am until noon.  It's funny because my father-in-law doesn't think the shopping is worth it because it ruins "two days".  I almost agree, but then I look at my receipt grateful I managed to save a couple hundred dollars allowing me to purchase more for my children.

Now, I'm sitting here reflecting on my extremely long day and can't help but smile.  It's been a good year.  With only one month left, I have one more goal for the year.  I may or may not reach it, but I believe that everything happens for a reason either way.

I hope you all can reflect in the same way being equally as blessed as I.  I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

11-11-11

Tomorrow is 11-11-11 and according to my students, if you make a wish, it's supposed to come true.  So I started to think about what wishes I would make.  Of course, there is the obvious wish: win the lottery, if everyone won the lottery, it'd be like that movie Bruce Almighty when everyone wins the lottery meaning each person gets like a penny, so I hope that doesn't happen.  That would be a bit of a waste.  So other wishes: get an agent, publish a book, become an assistant principal, kids behave 100% of the time, house elf arrives and cleans my house for me, lose weight, etc. There are so many to choose from.  This once in a life time wish seems to be pretty huge.  I'm not sure I can handle it on my own.  So which will it be?  I'll have to think about it a little longer.  Let me ponder.  The thing about wishes is once they come true, what do you wish for next?  If I get an agent, it would become get a publisher.  Publish a book becomes sell thousands. Become an assistant principal - more time with kids.  Kids behave - not sure (that would be pretty cool). House elf cleaning my house - house elf cooks my meals.  Lose weight - lose more weight and possible enhancement.  There are just so many possible outcomes.  That being said, I still don't know what I'd wish for and I only have a few hours left to decide.  Yikes. The pressure is on.  My question to you is what would you wish for?  Share in the comments.  Let's see what the possibilities are... :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nano update

Before talking about myself, I must brag that I have 25 amazing high school seniors attempting NaNoWriMo this year.  We have a list of their names posted up on the wall and each day we check in with their progress. I'm so proud to have such aspiring young authors in my classes.

For me, I wasn't planning on doing NaNo, but I feel like I need to set the example in my classroom, so I am writing.  It feels great.  Day 1, I plotted out the entire story on my dry erase board in my office.  My husband and daughter were huge contributors in the brainstorming process and now I feel like I've got a very solid plan.  Day 2, I began writing chapter summaries.  I got through the first three, but family time got in the way a bit, so I had to stop there. Day 3, I started writing.  My first time hammering away at a key board in months on a new project and it was awesome.  I wrote about 1350 words that night all the while thinking ahead.  Day 4 was a bit slower.  I wrote my chapter 4 summary during the day and at night I wrote about 800 words.  Today is Day 5 and I haven't written yet, but tonight will be productive if it kills me.  As much as I want to say that the November challenge is what's pushing me along, it's not.  In reality, I don't want to let my kids down.  If they're doing it, then so am I.  What kind of teacher would I be if I quit and just watched from the sidelines?  So I'm writing.  Maybe this is what I need all the time...25 cheerleaders in the same shoes writing to meet a deadline.  We'll see.  Afterall, it's only Day 5.

Are any of you writing for NaNo? Let me know how it's going. I'd love to cheer you on as well.  Good luck and I'll check in in a few days.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Just Keep Swimming

My classes are writing a literary analysis on Finding Nemo and to be honest, I'm not sure what they think about the assignment just yet.  I've given this task for years and ultimately, they all enjoy it, but we're still in the beginning stages.  Today, though, we talked about the characters and how they "change" throughout the movie.  I walk the classes through the character development of Marlin, Dory, and Nemo, and at the end it all comes back to the theme "Just Keep Swimming." I ask them which characters they relate to and then explain who I am in relationship to the triumvirate, yet leave out the writer in me.  I explain to them that I am Marlin because I'm a control freak and sometimes need to just let go.  I am completely out of sorts if my house/classroom/desk/kitchen table/etc. are messy or disorganized.  With my children, I hesitate to let them try new things out of fear of how they will react. I am a bit of a nervous nelly when it comes to them.  But at the same time what parent isn't?  I then explain that I'm a lot like Dory because I want to see the positive in life and not focus on the negative.  I have to write everything down or I will forget almost instantaneously. 

At any given time I have three calendars on my desk with varying appointments, lesson plans, or important events.  But I'm also like Dory because I try my hardest to stay optimistic and not let rejection or failure get me down.  Of course, it's human nature to notice it occasionally and be a little sad, but at the end of the day, I need to bounce back or my family is affected and that is just not ok.  Finally, we discussed Nemo.  We talked about how he just wants a little bit of freedom in the world is begging his father for it. I can't relate there, but I can with the fact that Nemo is disabled by his "lucky fin". I pointed out that we are all disabled by something in life whether it be our vision (me) or a learning disability or even an issue with self-confidence (me again at times with writing).  Nemo is constantly told by Marlin, "You think you can do these things, but you just can't, Nemo!" I can relate because there are so many times that I feel like as a writer, I'm always up against the odds.  When Nemo figures out how to push himself to get out of the tube in the fish tank, he learns that "can't" is no longer a word in his vocabulary.  He CAN and so CAN I.  I can write a novel. I can write poetry. I can write a short story.  The issue isn't can't it's will I let myself go enough to try. 
So some of you may be wondering the point of this blog, and I am getting there, I swear.  The point is not only me sharing a little bit more about myself, but it's a lesson in self-exploration courtesy of Disney.  Finding Nemo has so many lessons to offer, and I'm incredibly lucky to be able to share them with others, whether it be with 60 teenagers or the few who might read my blog.  Just keep swimming and never give up.  We can all relate with these lovable characters at some point in our lives as people and writers.  It's up to us to figure it out and make the most of it.  For me, I'm all of the above. Which fish are you?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Great Fall Evenings

Tonight was one of those priceless nights that makes other nights envious.  My best friend, her husband, and her two sons came over for pizza and beer to hang out and watch TV. We talked, laughed, watched TV and just did nothing, but the experience makes me grateful for the company of good friendship. I try my hardest to be the best friend to whomever I am friends with.  That includes being someone to hang out with or to complain to or to just laugh with.  I value my friends. I've made friends in the most unique places as well.  Being that my husband is/was military, we have had the pleasure of moving across the country.  We were raised in California which has its benefits, but then we moved to Georgia where I had the distinct pleasure of learning the ways of the south.  I made a lot of friends there, but then we moved to Arizona.  Here I've become an adult, mother, thirty-something, etc. I've changed opinions, political parties, goals, and dreams, but I've held one thing to the core - the ability to make friends.  On top of all that, technology has taken hold of my life in a new way with social networking. I never imagined I would meet people online knowing only their picture and their keystrokes, but again, I've made friends.  Some of which, I can't imagine being the writer I am today without. I value each friend I've made and will maintain my loyalty to them all. I am a die hard.  I believe in supporting my friends, helping my friends, and overall having their backs (so to speak).  This is me.  I thank tonight's fall evening for reminding me that friends are the people who define us.  Thank you to all of my friends.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thursday's Run

Hubby and I ran week 1 day 2 of C25K with a different app Thursday. This time is was 2 minute runs with 3 minute recoveries.  We ran up hill the first half and back down for the second half.  This was much more challenging than day one, but I did it.  The only problem I experienced is that I have exercised induced asthma and I had to use my inhaler.  I really thought I was going to have an attack, but thankfully, it subsided.  Come to find out the next day, the wind had kicked up Thursday morning while I was in my 100% recycled air building and the pollen count had increased.  Nice combo of running and allergies caused my asthma.  It sucked! We are planning to run again tonight once it's cooled down and I am planning on using my inhaler before we leave to prevent a repeat of Thursday.  I will let you know how it goes.

Meanwhile, I am officially old.  My first born is turning 9 today and she amazes me with her height, intelligence, age, everything. 

On the writing front, not much is happening other than some pretty heavy editing.  Other than that, I'm looking forward to a fun Sunday of cleaning, birthday, grading, and football.  I hope you all have a great day!

P.S. I know today's post was a bit boring, but as I said in an earlier post, my blog is about my improving externally and internally right now.  No more complaining...just positive thoughts. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Couch to 5K

I am not a runner. I've never been a runner.  In fact, in high school for the timed runs, I got sick 3/4 of the way through from the overwhelming smell of fresh cut grass.  I've never run a mile straight through a day in my life.  But after not being able to lose weight with just diet, I told my husband we needed to integrate exercise, and I wanted to try this "running thing".

After yesterday's run/walk, hubby and I decided to start Couch to 5k.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a five minute warm-up walk followed by six 60 second run intervals with 90 second walks in between concluded with a 5 minute walk cool down.  At least that is week one.  It's a podcast on itunes for free.  Supposedly, we will be able to run a 5k in 9 weeks.  We shall see about that.

So, tonight was W1D1 and it went ok.  We did the first half uphill, which made the return home a tad bit easier because it was downhill for the second half.  I really thought I couldn't do it, and there were times when I wanted to stop, but kept pushing forward because the little man in my head hadn't said stop yet. 

Well, I made it and now I'm back on my couch waiting for my tilapia to be cooked and I'm very proud of myself.  I also edited yesterday for three hours, so I'm getting something for my mind as well. 

We have tomorrow off, so we're going to lift a few weights and do crunches.  How exciting! I will blog again on Wednesday with my W1D2 update.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Body and Mind

I had no idea this year was going to start out so crazy, but it did and now I'm having to sacrifice some for the sake of others.  What does this mean? I've had to back down on my blog and writing and editing, and for that matter, any hobby of mine for my work and family.  I haven't written in over two months, nor have I edited anything for me in over two months.  I'm sad about this.  I need to get the words out of my head, but I haven't had the time or the energy.  So, that being said, let me catch you up...

I've been working both at school and online.
My kids are in soccer-two different teams.
My husband is getting his BA, so I'm editing for him.
That's the not so fun stuff. Last week, though, we went to Disneyland.

We left on Tuesday and returned yesterday after three long days in the park.  We are exhausted.  My legs burn and I've gained five pounds.  Now, I'm on a diet and starting to run, which is something I've never done a day in my life.  My husband was in the military, so I'm asking him to help me out.  Today we walked/ran/jogged 1.2 miles.  Anything more would have killed me.  I logged back into my WW account and the diet is on. 

So, my blog may change a little right now because I need to focus on me and getting healthy - body and mind before I can start stressing about writing again.  I do plan on editing a previous work and doing an overhaul of sorts, so I'm not totally putting down the "pen" or computer.  I just need to exercise something other than my mind at the current time.  Feel free to drop in and cheer me on; I'll do the same for you if you would like.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Day in the Life

So, I feel like I should share some of what I'm teaching my high school students.  I teach Creative Writing to English 12 students for the first semester this year.  It's my first time teaching Creative Writing at this school, but I'm having a great time with it.  We started with plot drive stories and talked about letting the conflicts take the front stage.  They really enjoyed writing ghost stories and urban legends for that one. One kid's story was so good, it freaked me out (home alone) and I had to leave.  I told him he could be the next Stephen King - we shall see.

This week, I read 50 character driven stories in a week.  Some of them were amazing, but others read like newspaper articles.  I am trying to get across to my students that the dialogue must read like it's coming from a real person.  I'm also amazed at how many times I say "show don't tell" in class.  I don't think I ever really understood that until now.  It's funny how that happens.  I didn't understand grammar either until I had to teach it.  Anyway, it's been a fantastic experience. 

Next week, we start researching submissions.  Part of my class requirement is to submit a short story for publication.  When I reminded them of this a few days ago, a student said to me, "Why would they take us seriously?  They don't take you seriously and you're an adult.  We're just a bunch of kids." Before I address this, these "kids" are 18 and eligible for publication, so they're adults too.  Now back to serious comment.  I felt like I had been punched in the stomach and felt my face burn red with fury before I took a deep breath to calm down.  I then reminded her that with short stories, I have been published.  I may not have an agent for a novel, but that takes time and the right fit.  I'm also going to epublish (which I know is self-publishing) one novel, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up on getting an agent.  I felt like a fraud for a moment standing before a group of kids teaching them how to be "writers" when one called me out as being a failure.  I think this student may have used the word fail in the comment as well, but I think I may have blocked that tidbit. It hurt. I will add, though, that this student apologized afterward reassuring me that it wasn't meant to sound mean.  Ok.

Anyway, back to class. After break, we are going to discuss setting and then we jump into theme.  We're going to write, illustrate, and bind children's books which we are going to read to six schools of kindergartners. I'm so excited, I may write one too.  We have over 350 kindergartners coming to us over a course of five days and will be putting the illustrations on a giant screen behind the author for all kids to see while listening to the story.  It's soooo exciting. 

So this is what I do with my days.  I'm a teacher two periods a day of Creative Writing.  (The other classes are English as well, but literature based, so not really applicable at all to this post.) :)

I hope you all have a wonderful night/day/week/etc. Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Upcoming Birthday

My birthday is next week and I'm turning 35.  I don't mind being in my 30s and enjoy it quite a bit, but I'm beginning to feel my age a little more every year, especially at work.  I started teaching when I was 22 and was afraid to tell the kids my age.  This continued until I was about 28.  I was pregnant with my second child and proud of all that I had accomplished, so telling my age wasn't a big deal.  I was still considered young to the older teachers, but having children made me more accepted by them, yet I still came off young and hip to the students. 

Seven years later, I'm turning 35 and in my 12th year teaching.  Where has the time gone?  I'm not sure, but now, I'm a teacher, soccer mom, wife, writer, multitasker, etc. and proud of it.  So you ask, what's point?  How am I feeling my age? Every year we get fresh new teachers straight out of college.  They're young and inspired and ready to teach.  They think that ALL students want to learn, they will make an impact on every student they come into contact with, and all parents are supportive.  These are the ideals all teachers start with before reality sets in.  I'm not bitter or jaded, but I know the reality.  We have students who don't give a crap about their education, there are students who think the teachers are idiots, and there are parents who genuinely believe their children can do no wrong.  It's part of the job. 

This being said, I feel my age today because as I sit and listen to new teachers talk about not wanting to have children, joking in a classroom is not respectable, and it's disgusting that students don't study enough I find myself irritated and unwilling to smile and nod any longer.  I love having children so when people make comments about children throwing fits in the grocery store being obnoxious, my blood boils.  I spend more time in my classroom with my students than I do with my family at times, so if I'm not supposed to laugh, then I don't want any part of it.  How miserable would that be! And last, kids are kids.  They don't want to study eight hours a night eating, breathing, living school.  They want to play, hangout, and be kids.  What I used to find endearing about new teachers, I now find to be annoying at times.  I want to shake them and say loosen up and enjoy your job. 

I may sound bitter, but I can assure you I'm not. I love teaching and I plan on doing it for my career, but kids can tell if you love your job or if you're just "doing it" to pay the bills.  So, going back to my age, I think with age comes wisdom - good and bad.  Patience ebbs and flows and reality takes a firmer hold.

So with my upcoming birthday, I hope for more patience and understanding towards the younger teachers.  I want them to be successful while I remember what it was like to be in their shoes. It's not easy learning the craft and they need support from the ones who have been at it a while.  I need to remember that next time I hear "I would never yell in my classroom" just as I will smile and nod next time at lunch I hear "I don't think parents should take their kids out in public unless they are able to stay quiet."  I will be patience and say it all in my head or in my writing.  I am older and wiser - or at least what I'm supposed to say. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Deadline Quickly Approaching for ePub

Update: After thinking for a long time about this endeavor, I opted to continue looking for an agent/publisher for my book.  I genuinely want to do the right thing for my book and I believe deep down going the traditional route is the right choice.

I set a September 20th deadline for my epublishing decision.  That is 10 days away! OMG! I'm working on my final edit now that my texting formatting has been taken care of.  I still need to take out the tabs to my paragraphs, but I'm going to take care of that last.  I have a cover.
Hooray for my husband making this for me.  I had no idea he could do half of the stuff he does on Powerpoint, but that's what he used to make it.  For my birthday, my mom is buying me a bundle pack of ISBNs because apparently, every format of the book requires its own ISBN.  That means I need a minimum of three if I want to sell on iBooks, Kindle, and Nook.  I still need to look into all of the format requirements, but I'm starting with Amazon.  This is such a SCARY and HUGE process.  It sounds so easy until you start.  But I'm not giving up because it's not point and click.  I'm going to go the distance. 

I tweeted that part of me wants to hire someone to do the legwork for me, but I don't want this to feel like Barbazon.  I remember as a teenager having friends who said they were models for Barbazon.  My friends paid for the pictures to be taken of them and the agency "promoted" them.  I never dealt with this agency, but I don't think a model should have to pay the photographer.  I feel the same way about my book.  Amazon doesn't make the author pay to publish; they just offer a service and keep part of the proceeds (like an agent for a print copy).  Hiring someone to do the legwork (to me) would be like paying the photographer.  It may be easier, but I don't feel as much satisfaction that way.  Anyway, enough on that topic. 
Tomorrow is football, so while the games are on, I plan on finishing my edit and testing the format on Mobi Pocket Reader.  It's actually pretty easy to use, but it's been a couple of months since I first tried it, so I'm going to have to reread the directions.  I'm learning of more and more people in my shoes and am glad to see that I'm not alone.  ePublishing is growing so quickly; I don't want to be left behind.  I read on Twitter that an agent wrote epublishing is the new query (something along those lines).  It looks as though it is gaining respect across the board. With each post, I feel more and more confident about this decision. 

Anyway, I'm off to continue working on my new adventure.  Once Love and Texts is out there, I'm going to start working on Keridwen and writing To Where and Back.  I have a lot of projects in the air at the present, but I'm happy.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Isn't it Amazing?

It happens every year as a teacher...amazement.  There's always that one student who blows your mind and makes you hope they stay the course because if they do big things will happen for them.  This year, I've mentioned before, I'm teaching Creative Writing.  Today, I'm grading their latest stories, and the amazement just keeps coming...one after another.  I'm home alone today because my children have half days and I don't have child care midafternoon.  This means, I called in for today and tomorrow and brought my grading home wanting to save my weekend for my family and FOOTBALL.  (opening weekend for the NFL, it's a big deal here.)

Ok, so anyway, I gave this assignment for a plot driven story.  We discussed in class that urban legends are plot drive stories - they have characters and setting, but the bulk of the story is about a single conflict. So we start telling ghost stories and urban legends in class. It was fun.  We turned off the lights and scared each other with words. :)  Once I gave them the assignment, they were geared up to write.  Little did I know most of them would write scary stories. 

As budding authors, I don't expect to be wowed all the time with their writing.  There are some who are naturally good, and others who are really trying, but magic happened with this assignment.  I was reading at my kitchen table and finding myself looking around for sounds that didn't exist.  I admit it...I was freaked out in my empty house thanks to some of these stories.  A group of 17 and 18 year olds made me shake.  I'm impressed and amazed and planning on making my daughter sleep with me tonight. :) 

I still have 30 more to read today, so I need to get back, but if these 30 are anything like the first 30, I'm going to need a night light.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Out of Time, Out of Steam

Every day I tell myself I'm going to write.  This has been going on since June, so over two months.  During the summer, I was busy with the kids and the house, but still there was time to do something.  School started and I find that I haven't had a spare minute to breathe.  I'm loving teaching creative writing, but I am grading 54 short stories every two weeks.  I also have three normal classes to grade as well.  At this point, I think my personal writing endeavors will have to be pushed aside for a bit longer.  I am swamped with school, kids and starting next week...soccer.  I'm going to make an honest effort to write at night, but I'm already going to bed at 9:00.  That being said, I'm logging off because I have a cold and need to rest for 30 minutes before the second half of my day starts. :)

Now, I turn this thought to you...is writing one of the first or last things you sacrifice to keep your family afloat?  How do you do it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Edit and Edit Some More

To say that perfection is reachable is a lie.  I don't think there is such a thing to begin with.  We are all constant works in progress. As parents, we learn through the fights, tears, laughter, and love our children give us.  As friends, we learn through the trials and tribulations of dealing with each other's idiosyncrasies.  And as writers, we grow through making mistakes.  Sometimes these mistakes come in the form of spelling errors or punctuation mishaps.  Other times they come in the form of plot turns and twists.  But regardless, we make mistakes and we learn from them.

For me, I am entering back into the realm of editing for I can't count how many times.  I'm constantly working on my new ms., but I recently learned something new about an old manuscript's formatting, so I am back to editing once again.  I'd like to say that it is a work in progress all the time.  I haven't given up hope that some day people will read it and like it, but I'm not quite ready to unleash it to the public without it being the best that it can. 

I have three fantastic critique partners working their magic on my new work, and am determined not to make a single change until I have received all three sets of comments.  The theory being that I only want to make major changes once right now, so I wait thankful for their time.  In return, I have some editing to do for one of them. (I'm sorry it's taken so long). 

Anyway, perfection.  Is it possible? No.  Do I strive for it? Always.  There's always hope. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

OCD Organized

Ok, so a while back I wrote that I was going to be free flowing writing my current ms.  I wanted freedom.  I wanted relaxed.  I wanted to write.  Now, I feel lost.  I need an outline.  I need structure. I need to tighten up my work environment and material because free flowing just "ain't" me. 

I'm not sure how anyone is able to sit down and just write a book without some sort of outline.  I have had an outline of sorts in my head the whole time, but I need chapter summaries.  I need a skeleton to work with.  I'm too controlling not to have control. 

I was talking to a fellow teacher today and she said, "you should teach math or science because your brain just works that way." I told her I teach creative writing and English. Her response was, "that's a bit strange."  I nodded and agreed.  In class, I drew a picture on the chalkboard with my right hand.  In my left was my pencil.  My students asked if I am ambidextrous, and my response was only on the chalkboard. I know, I'm a freak.  I can make up a character and tell a little story in minutes, but I'm overly organized with six calendars on my desk at any given time (no exaggeration).

So, the point of my story today?  I am an organized writer.  Are you?  If you are, tell me about it.  If you aren't, tell me about it.  Let's talk.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School

So, school is in full swing and I'm trying to find my rhythm juggling teaching, teaching, parenting, wifing (?) and writing.  It's quite the handful.  I teach all day, teach online at night, play mom, wife, and write all in a 24 hour period.  I know, some of you may think, "How does she do that?" The answer is simple, I multitask.  I am so OVER planned, that sometimes, I even have time to read and watch TV.  I know. It sounds crazy, but somehow it happens.  Did I mention that I require at least 8 hours of sleep or I'm cranky?  Well, I do. 

Anyway, today I tried writing while my students were writing.  I thought to myself this morning that I had two hours of Creative Writing and one hour of kids watching a film, which meant three solid hours of writing.  I was surely mistaken when I discovered that they asked A LOT of questions.  I did manage to squeeze out 250 words which isn't that bad, but that means tonight I have to do it or else.  Not really sure what the else stands for, but I have to write.  Must do it! I've played hooky for a week and before that was another week.  I've been a slacker with a capital S.  So, the time management needs a tweak so I schedule writing into my day whether I like it or not.  I must work on this book. 

Anyway, that's pretty much all I got today for my blog.  I'm pooped and need to spend some time with the kids.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why am I ADD when it comes to writing?

LOL! I am SO ADD when it comes to my writing.  One minute I'm looking for an agent, the next I'm looking into epublishing, the next minute, I'm thinking about agents again, and then I'm looking at publishers.  Ay dios mio!  Maybe it's good that I'm weighing all my options.  I mean there are A LOT of options out there.  What I do know is that I LOVE MY BOOK and will do whatever it takes to get it out there.  I read an article about why authors shouldn't have blogs because they focus too much on the art of writing rather than their books.  The point of the blog should be to promote self.  Ok, so I'm here promoting me.  I know I write a lot about why I need to take a chance on me, but why should everyone else?

I'm a hard worker. As an A type personality, I'm totally OCD and organized. 

I believe in my book so much that I'd stop at nothing to promote it (aside from jeopardizing my family of course).

I'm open to making changes.  I've read so many aspiring authors out there complaining about making changes to their manuscripts.  I'm no fool.  I'm sure that there are needed changes to make it even more saleable. I'm open to that.  Is it a polished manuscript as is?  Absolutely.

So, enough for selling myself...I feel like I'm standing on the auction block and it's making me uncomfortable. :)

As for All's Fair in Love and Texts...it's a new concept.  I've not found a book that incorporates texting in the hands of my students yet.  It tells the story of a girl finding her first love and a jealous best friend who works quite hard on sabotaging the relationship.  In the end, she must choose once and for all who is better for her - her boyfriend or best friend.

It's real. It applies to all girls.  It will sell.

Ok, so back to me being ADD.  Now, I don't know what to do, which means wait.  I don't want to jump into anything foolishly out of eagerness.  I want what's truly best for my book.  Am I crazy?  Probably.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Taking a Chance on Me

OK, so first I must say that I'm giving the professional courtesy to the two agents still reviewing Love and Texts, which means that my decision is not final; however, in preparation for moving forward, I have decided to epublish All's Fair in Love and Texts should one of the two agents not offer representation.

This has been a very difficult decision to make because I've been writing, seriously, for almost five years with intent of publishing via the traditional route.  Up until about two years ago, I genuinely believed (ignorantly)that self-publishing wasn't reputable or respected, but my mind has changed along with technology.  In a time when (I'm assuming) the majority of the reading population has purchased ereaders, epublishing has boomed, and with that writers are becoming published every day.

I have written multiple books, each making me a better writer in the process, but none making it through the front door in the traditional world.  I honestly believe that this doesn't mean my books aren't worthy.  This being said, All's Fair in Love and Texts, is my favorite.  It's my baby and has grown with me as a writer.  Each time I finish something I return to it and make improvements.  Now, it is at a point where I feel it is ready beyond doubt for others to read.  I know that pleasing ALL is impossible, but it is a great book and tells a story people can relate with and be entertained.

It's so scary taking a risk, but living means taking risks and chances.  Literary agents take risks on authors every day, I am just not one of the ones chose at this time.  This doesn't make me a bad writer.  I know that.  I have friends who are agented and still not published after over a year of being offered representation.  I can't imagine working on getting an agent for three to five years and then working for another three years on finding an editor.  I'm a patient person, but I'm also getting older as are the stories I'm writing.  We are definitely in an age of instant gratification.  I buy a book on a whim, read it in a day or two, and then move on.  Waiting six years for my book to be published traditionally no longer fits that mold.  Anyone who has spent even a week in a classroom knows that kids are the same way.  They want what they want when they want it and technology is only making that time speed up.  The world is changing and I want to change with it.

This leads me to taking a chance on me.  If I won't bet on myself, how can I possibly expect others to do the same?  Epublishing is betting on myself so that others can do the same.  I will definitely keep you all posted on my progress.  It won't be today because as I said in the beginning, I'm giving the professional courtesy necessary to two agents still looking at it, but once those responses are in, the games will begin.

Wish me luck!

PS. if you haven't already, check out the trailer for All's Fair in Texts and Love....the ebook is coming soon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Education

So, I really wanted to write something profound on my blog, but I'm having a hard time thinking of something good.  School starts in two weeks, and I can NOT wait.  My kids are bored and getting antsy as am I.  I went to the school yesterday and brought them with me, which two hours later, we were all sweaty and tired wanting nothing more than to go home.  Today, we finished school supply shopping and I have to say that $200 in supplies seems excessive.  I couldn't believe how much each child needed.  Their lists had to the usual on them, but not they need hand sanitizer, Ziploc bags, wipes, air freshener.  I couldn't believe it.  I bought it all because I don't want my kids to be the ones without, but seriously...air freshener?  If you think about it, if all kids brought one can, the teacher would have thirty cans of air freshener for the school year.  We're only in school for 9 months.  How on earth are you going through that much spray?  And what about the kids with allergies?  Do they not have a say regarding what is sprayed in the air? The same goes for hand sanitizer.  Two each makes 60! It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me with these numbers, but I bought it anyway.  This brings me to think about my list I have on my syllabus.  The only strange request I have is one ream of copy paper (not required but requested).  Last year, my school ran out of paper with three months left, so the copy paper came in handy when printing in the library or just making copies in general.  It blows my mind that it came to donations to keep printing.

I read in Parenting Magazine this morning that the US is ranked extremely low worldwide for education.  I can say that it's not the teachers pulling down the rankings.  It's the money or lack thereof.  We can't keep teachers in the business if the teachers can't afford to pay their bills because salaries are frozen or constantly getting cut.  I realize that people say we get paid too much because we only "work" 9 months of the year, but seriously, I can tell you my day starts at 6:30 (school starts at 7:30) and I get to leave the building at 3:00, but the grading comes with me as does the planning.  We don't get paid for our planning periods and we get a 40 minute lunch.  Unlike "real" jobs, we only get to use the restroom between classes which is a five minute time period since we can't leave students unattended.  I know I sound like I'm complaining, but I want to assure you that I'm not.  I love teaching and my job.  I just wish that we could make our system better and raise the rankings.  It would be nice to be in a respected and competitive profession.

Ok, that's it for today.  I know this wasn't about writing, but it's what I'm thinking about. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Disconnect

I've been saying this to my daughter every day this week.  "Disconnect from Pixie Hollow."  She's totally sucked in and obsessed with this website.  Can I blame her?  No, not really.  Before I went on vacation, my life consisted wake up, check my email, check Twitter, check query tracker, check blog stats, play angry birds, check email, etc. all before breakfast. I was totally 100% obsessed with social networking and the Internet.  It was insane.  My husband had to intervene when we left for vacation.  I wasn't allowed to spend even half the time on my computer or phone that I was previously doing.  Now that we are home again, I'm using my devices more often, but I will say that I'm not nearly as obsessed with it, though I can see how easy it would be to fall back in.  I know many of you know what I'm talking about too.  Especially those of you in the query trenches like I am.  I've officially shelved Keridwen as of ten minutes ago.  I'm done querying it. I'm done stressing over rewriting every five minutes.  I'm done thinking about it for at least one year.  It's just not the right time for Keridwen.

As for Love and Texts, it's still on the burner, but moving towards the back.  I'm officially disconnecting from Internet obsession and dedicating my time to my new WIP, To Where and Back (working title).  It's dark, it's full of emotion, it's young adult, and it's definitely the best I've done thus far.  Every feeling I've ever had in the last twelve years is being infused into this work.  There's love, loss, friendship, heartache, desperation, healing, rejoicing, etc.  I can't wait to share it with the world. 

As far as time goes, my wonderful writing partner (Mandie) and I have set a 750 words per day goal.  If I stick to it, seven days a week, I should have it done in 53 days give or take.  Then the edits will start.  I know this process is long, and I look forward to a new focus.  I just needed to disconnect for a bit to see that obsessing gets you no where, but writing can take you anywhere.

For all of you out there, disconnect - even if just a little.  Feel what it's like to have a little more freedom.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tigger

Tigger under the Christmas tree 2010

Thirteen years ago, my husband and I moved in together (1998) knowing that one day we would be engaged.  Within that first month, we bought Tigger.  He was our first pet and an incredible cat.  Because we went to school during the day and waited tables at night, when we got home, he was constantly in our faces...literally.  I would try to sleep, but Tigger was on my chest licking my face or at the foot of the bed biting my husband's toes.  This led us to buy Stripes...his new companion.  We got married a year later and six months after that, we moved to Georgia with both cats in tow.  Because I had always wanted a dog, we bought Jake, a Border Collie, and worried how the cats would do with a dog in the house.  Tigger staked his claim and wrestled Jake causing Jake to be afraid of him for the next eight years.  We were forced to find a home for Stripes four years into our stint in Georgia because we were supposed to move to Germany and could only take two animals.  We chose to give Stripes to a loving older couple because she was constantly trying to go outside.  Tigger made it through the sadness, but became even more loving to us.  He slept with me in the nook of my arm every night after that.  He was my baby. 

We had our daughter the in 2004 and Tigger was intrigued.  He learned quickly that she was of no interest to him, and he continued to sleep next to me.  He would always be the first.  He knew that.  In 2006, we moved to Arizona - me pregnant with my son.  I drove with my daughter and Tigger across the country while my husband drove with the dog.  It was a long trek, but Tigger was a trooper.  He slept most of the way.  We moved into our first house, which may have been haunted causing Tigger to stay in my room for two years only coming out to use his box or to eat.  Then we moved to our current house, which he claimed as his own.  He went anywhere he pleased at any hour of the day.  He was the master of the house. 

About three months ago, he stopped sleeping with me.  We thought it was because of our two dogs sleeping in the same room, but it had never bothered him before.  He also started losing weight.  I mentioned it to my husband, but we chalked it up to him getting old.  We even changed his food thinking that was the problem, and we left for vacation.  But Friday, when we got home, he looked even skinnier, so I immediately called the vet.  They could get me in until Monday, so I took the first available appointment.  Monday came and I piled the kids and Tigger into the car for his 3:00 appointment knowing something was wrong.  The vet checked his teeth noticing a cracked tooth, and I secretly hoped that was the problem, but my heart told me different.  The vet checked his breathing and told me she wanted to take some x-rays because it sounded labored.  I didn't care about the cost as the vet rattled off prices.  I told her do what you have to do.  I took the kids for food while we waited.  When we got back, the receptionists looked at me like, "Oh no, she's back," and I knew...it was bad.  I waited with the kids in the empty waiting room for the vet wanting to be anywhere but there.  Instead I followed the vet back, leaving my children in the waiting room not wanting them to see the results.  There on the screen was an x-ray of my cat's lungs completely filled with tumors.  He had cancer.  As the vet told it was the worst case she had ever seen, I cried.  I cried as I told her I knew what had to be done, but I needed my husband to be with me.  She left the room allowing me to call him.  I could hardly get the words out as we discussed the details.  We needed to decide on cremation or home burial, did we want an urn, did we want to be in the room.  It was horrifying.  In the end, we said our good-byes to our cat and left both in tears.  I cried most of the night wanting nothing more than my best friend who slept me every night for almost 13 years.  I wanted my friend who tried to drink my milk while I ate my cereal every morning.  I wanted that meow telling me to hurry up and feed him.  I wanted Tigger.  I still do.

Saying good-bye to a pet can be the hardest thing in the world.  Pets love you unconditionally and don't talk back.  You can tell them your deepest secrets and know they'll never slip and tell someone else.  Tigger was this for me.  We threw away his litter box, cat food, dishes, and accessories when we got home not wanting to face them.  Now my home feels a little bit emptier than it was before.  I am heartbroken.  I will always miss him, and I know he can never be replaced.

RIP Tigger  ...  I love you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's Harry Potter Week!!!!!

So, I may sound ridiculous, but we are celebrating Harry Potter week in my house.  Starting tonight, we are watching a different Harry Potter movie (in order) every night leading up to a Sunday showing of HP 7.2.  I'm so excited and sad for the new movie to come out.  It feels like we've been reading/watching Harry Potter for ten years...wait we have.  And now it's ending.  My eight year old daughter is reading book five and my six year old son is beside himself waiting for the next movie.  We are such a family of Potterheads that we are going to decorate our new playroom with a Harry Potter theme.  I can't wait!

After two weeks of vacation, I'm freshly rejuvenated and ready to write once again.  I've been inspired by those in the family who think writing is a "cute hobby" and am hard pressed to prove them wrong.  This means that I must get writing and do it well.  I'm still loving my new story, so I'm going to work on that.  I'm also starting the curriculum building and lesson planning for the new Creative Writing class at my school, which I have been chosen to teach.  This may sound like a daunting task, but I'm confident there is enough stuff on the net that I should be fine. 

Anyway, I just wanted to check-in.  HP 1 is calling me and Oliver Wood is on the screen.  He's too cute! Have a great night and I hope you all have a fantastic Harry Potter Week!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Approach to Writing

I'm totally an A type personality.  I make lists of lists of things to do. I have three calendars on my desk at school at any given time each on tracking something new.  I must have an agenda when on vacation or else I can't relax.  I don't like change.  I don't like being limbo.  I must have structure and organization.  All of these traits, of course, mean I am a total control freak.  Even when writing, I must first outline the entire story into chapter sections.  Once that is done, I write chapter summaries to get a feel for what I want to write and when.  It's all part of the process for me.  I've always been like this, and I know I'm not alone.  I have read about countless authors who plan everything out to the T, and it works for them.  As a matter of fact, even in college, I planned out my stories for my writing classes before sitting down to the computer to hammer them out.  It's how I've always been. 

But now I question my ability.  I question the quality of my formulaic writing because it's yet to be picked up.  I know rejections are a part of writing and that's fine, but I'm wondering now if my writing it too form.  So, I started a new work in progress.  I'm about 8000 words in and am feeling the story so much that I can't help but cry while I write.  This is new for me.  Crying isn't new, but I haven't put anything on paper in preparation for this story.  I know I want to have to events leading to the turn and I want three effects to the turn along with two possible solutions.  The skeleton, so to speak, is planned - in my mind - but nothing is on paper.  No outline, no summaries, no nothing.  I'm just sitting down and writing and it's scaring the hell out of me.  This is so different from anything I've ever imagined, but it's good.  I feel it in my bones.  Today I wrote 1200 words and fought back the tears not wanting my husband who is sitting next to me to look at me like I'm crazy while I write.  Instead, I write the pain and push it aside. 

So, as I said before, this is new.  It's a new approach to something I love.  It's different.  It's change. It's unscripted, unplanned, uncharted.  It's scary as hell.  I LOVE IT!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Sides to Every Coin

So I'm on vacation with my family at my in-laws.  Our first day was supposed to be a 14 hour drive.  Well, it didn't quite go down the way we had planned.  We always take my car, which is a 2008 Nissan.  It only has 27,000 miles on it because I only drive like 15 miles a day total, but we put the big miles on when we drive from Arizona to California twice a year.  So we leave at 5:00am and everything's fine.  But about 4 hours in, my husband gets pulled over by a police officer for speeding in a construction zone.  Fantastic! thankfully, he got a verbal warning.  Thank you so much!  :) Well, we continued on.  We are about eight hours in, just past Palm Springs.  My car stops shifting gears.  We pull off the I-10 to a gas station and are able to turn off and back on the car, but we are barely able to get into the next parking lot before my car loses Drive altogether.  My transmission is shot.  I call my insurance and arrange for a tow truck, which is going to tow us to the dealership 20 miles away, but in the right direction.  Once there, we are told that we will need to get one of their rental cars, at their expense thanks to the warranty.  Then we left and continued our drive for another 6 hours hoping there would be no other incident.  We were wrong.  We were driving through Los Angeles attempting to get onto the 210 to circumvent downtown, but got stuck in the diamond lane, almost side-swiped a Lexus and were pushed onto the 101 which took us through downtown traffic.  It sucked!  Our 14 hour drive turned into 16 1/2.  Once we arrived at my in-laws, we were finally able to relax.  Our horrible day turned better with just a cup of tea and good conversation. That was Saturday.

Yesterday, we had a BBQ with both sets of parents and the neighbors.  It was wonderful.  We got to meet our six month old nephew and had a great time enjoying the mid 70s wonderful weather outside. My children are hilarious to everyone, which makes me sooo happy, but I have to say today was such a demonstration of there being two sides within minutes.  I said to my son, "please go help your Mum-mum with your DSi.  He grunts at me, but then is sweet as pie to her all in one breath.  I just about came unglued.  I couldn't believe the "two-faced" ability of a six year old and then my daughter followed suit. WHATEVER! :) I guess it's the price of parenting. 

Tomorrow, my husband and I are venturing out on our first outing away from the kids for more than one night.  We are going to Las Vegas for four days and three nights.  We haven't been on a vacation since our honeymoon 12 years ago, so we are extremely excited.  I've been to Vegas many times with my mom, but my husband has never been there as an adult.  I can't wait to be his official tour guide.  He's going to love it.

Anyway, I know this isn't about writing, but I had to share about the beginning of my vacay.  I hope no one goes through the drive we did.  Well, I'm off for the night because we have to get up early.  I will post again with pictures of Sin City.

Sleep well!

PS they tried to run a diagnostic on my car, but can't figure out how to get my car out of Drive. LOL!They're going to try again tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Coming Out of the Dark

Well, I've been too busy to blog this week as my town is on fire. 

It's been quite the ride since last Sunday.  For those of you who don't know, I live in Southern Arizona in Sierra Vista, which is the town now known world wide for being in danger thanks to the Monument Fire.  It started courtesy of a human (that's what the police say) on Sunday and has now burned over 27,000 acres of land in one of the most beautiful areas in the country.  We're known for star gazing, bird watching, and the monsoons, but wind comes with it.  The wind has been quite the problem for the over 700 firefighters, especially yesterday with the 60mph gusts. 

On Friday, a second fire started and came within a 1/2 mile of our house.  It was extremely scary as we were packing up what we thought was irreplaceable.  For the first time, we had to really think about and decide what in our house we really cared about - aside from children and animals. :)  We were packed to leave when the fire was contained, so thankfully, we didn't actually have to leave.  Thank God!
This was the view from our front yard during the Antelope Fire, which lasted 3 hours.


When the small fire was contained and put out, we went to explore.  This was what we found up the road from our house (1/2 mile away):

I couldn't believe how close it came to our home, but I'm glad that I was able to pack everything up that I wanted to discovering what it is I would grab should our town catch on fire. (Isn't that the question that always comes up?  If your house was on fire, what would you grab?)

Anyway, now that we're out of the wind, it looks like they should be able to gain a little more containment on the fire, so I feel like I can breathe again.  The fire is still like 12 miles from my house and 10,000 people are still evacuated from their homes, while another 10K give or take are on pre-evacuation, but for the first time in 8 days, I'm feeling hopeful.  I'm also missing being a writer.  I haven't done anything on the writing front for over a week, and I feel like something is missing from me.  It's got to be my writing.  So, I am making an effort to write by starting with my blog I've neglected for a week. 

Have a wonderful week everyone and stay safe...
Here are some more pics for those of you who are curious....
aerial shot of what's burned already

fire coming down the mountain

the night view

the slurry planes6/20

the Antelope fire building steam near my house 6/17
the fire from my backyard


from the actual fire....a graduate of mine sent this to me

more smoke on the mountain

Please keep in mind that these pictures are out of order, but were all taken this past week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writing is like...shaving your legs.

Ladies, you know who you are, thank you for tagging me in this process.  Ok, I know this metaphor is a bit far fetched, but here me out.  As a woman, we are forced to maintain a certain appearance in order to be "Beautiful".  We may not want to perform the mundane tasks we do daily or close to it like styling our hair, applying make-up, or even shaving our legs, but it is a necessity. 

Writing for me is a necessity.  In order to stay sane (beautiful), I must write daily or I become a bit grumpy.  My husband can automatically tell when I haven't written in a while because I am grouchy and irritable.  I snap quickly and resemble signs of PMS except that it's not.  It's the I haven't written syndrome. IHWS. (There's got to be a better acronym for that).  The same can be said for shaving my legs.  If I haven't shaved my legs and the hair starts to grow out, it starts just a little prickly and then moves to longer and just plain irritating and embarrassing.  Each stage represents each day I hold off getting the thoughts off my chest and into the computer.  You get the drift. 

So, my meme is writing is like...shaving my legs.  :)  It may not apply to men, but women writers, I'm sure you will relate.

Ok, so now it's my turn to tag writers.
 
Now, here are the rules (yes...I'm copying from her and pasting here...)

The goal is to come up with your own metaphor defining what "Writing is like..."

"like ice cream on a hot summer day"

or

"like a foray into an abysmal pit of loneliness"

Now it's my turn to tag three lucky bloggers to play this game with us!
My lucky writers are:
1. Trisha - because you aren't busy enough with editing and writing ;)
2. Lindsay - I haven't gotten to know you yet, but am already jealous of your recent success
3. Barbara - You're one of my newest followers and had such wonderful things to say on my blog, I wanted to share the wealth - and I love garden gnomes. :)


Good luck ladies.  It's not as easy as it may seem.  I hope you don't find mine ridiculous. :) Hee-hee

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My NEW Book Trailer


Hey everyone! Here's my new book trailer for All's Fair in Love and Texts.  It turned out amazing, and I am so proud of my friend Cameron for making it.

He's in the business of book trailers and is looking for potential clients.  If you'd like more information from him, he's extremely reasonably priced and will do whatever you want - it's your book.

His email is cameron_t@cox.net.