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!