Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflecting on 2012

It's time to reflect on 2012, and oh my, has a lot gone on.

When the year started, we were happily content in Sierra Vista, Arizona. We had no idea this year would go the way it had. I was midway through my eighth year at Buena and taking part in all things Common Core. Whew that was a big task! February came and went, but then March the world went topsy turvy. Mike's job became a question, and we decided that the annual stress of "will the contract be renewed" wasn't worth it any longer. So, we decided to move. This secret was one that we held close to us for the next four months. He got a job in California, and received confirmation the day after school got out. I searched for a job, but it's not that easy when you live out of state. I was lucky, though, and my current school agreed to interview me over the phone and then again, when I arrived in California. We thought about buying a house, and then renting a house, but when we discovered it would less expensive to buy, we found the perfect house online. I sent my aunt to check it out, and when she said it was nice (the model), we put in an offer. We bought a house sight unseen. A lot of people said that was crazy, but nothing we do is ever conventional. LOL! (We laugh now). Anyway, we moved in July, I secured my job, and we unpacked. With all of this stress came a few trips to the doctor...hives, hair falling out, lump in throat, etc. After all proper screening was done, we established I was healthy, just under a lot of stress. Oh well.

My school year started, an hour from my house. My children started their new school, and my husband started his job. All was going kind of as planned. Then the other shoe dropped. Mike hated his job, so, about two weeks ago, we decided that he was going to quit and go back to school. He wants to be a high school history teacher. This means that he's going to be a stay at home dad, full time student, and we will live off of my salary. As always, we are going to make it work. After all, we've been through worse...war, two reconstructive kidney surgeries, living in multiple states, etc. We will make it.

That being said, 2012 was an adventure. Good has come from it all. We are back in California with our family. Back where it all started, though, we are two hours north of our parents and home towns. Our kids in a top rated school in the state, and loving it. Our daughter was just accepted into GATE, which we've been waiting on since we came here, and our son is thriving in the new environment. They have even made quite a few friends. I'm enjoying my job and getting used to the drive. And my husband is finally happy.

For 2013, I look forward to a calmer year...I hope. I do have goals of writing, editing, possibly publishing. I haven't given up on that, but as you can see, I've been a little busy.

I hope you all had a wonderful year, and I wish you an even better one ahead of us.

Happy New Year! Let's ring it in with a smile!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Handling and Overcoming Stress

This last nine months have been stressful, to say the least. For those of you who don't know, my husband and I decided to move from Arizona to California last March. This meant finding new jobs, deciding where to live, buying a house, renting out our old house, and so much more. We made the move in July, but two weeks prior, I thought I had had enough. So much so that I broke out into hives (from head to toe). This was an extremely new concept for me. Anyway, they didn't last long, and we made the move to Northern California. My first Friday in town, I interviewed for my current job and crossed that task off the list. My husband had already nailed down his career change before we left.

Some might say, "be thankful for a job." I am, believe me; however, after 13 years of commuting less than 10 minutes to school, my new job is no less than an hour from my house. That took some adjusting. My kids started their new school, and love it. Of course, making new friends, learning new procedures, teachers, etc. took its toll on them as well, but they, too, have made the most of it. My husband is also settling into his new career nicely as well.

Anyway, now we are at the holidays. I really thought I had it all under control, but last month, the hives came back and my hair started falling out (I'm totally healthy - I had a blood workup after that). Everyone keeps saying the same thing..."take something off your plate." After a second bout of hives, I decided that their advice might be right. I am taking a break from teaching online and focusing on my full time job, teaching and being a mom. But even then, comes stress. In order to hold onto my CA teaching certificate, I needed to take the CBEST. Well, I took it yesterday and passed. I already feel a little bit better. I'm done Christmas shopping, and today I plan on tackling wrapping. We aren't spending Christmas at our house this year, so I don't have to worry about making it immaculate. There won't be any grocery shopping for Christmas dinner or Christmas Eve. All I need to worry about packing and driving to the inlaws. I'm taking it one day at a time. I only have two weeks left in the semester, and then we have two weeks off. I think I might actually survive.

As I reflect on all of this, I realize that we are never given more than we can handle, but that's a little subjective. I am overcoming all of the stress, and I'm finding ways to deal with it better. The one outlet I haven't tapped as much as I could is writing. So, that brings me to this post.

I'm not sure how many people actually read my blog, or what they are getting out of it, but I like to think that my blog is a sign that I'm not only human, but I'm normal. I can't be the only person in the universe who has had to deal with stressful times, and I'm not the only one who has overcome it. I hope that anyone who reads this particular post find comfort knowing that no one is perfect, and we will all make it through this thing called life.

Have a great week, if I don't get on here again til the weekend.

J

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Writer Hardship

It's taken me a year to attempt getting back into writing. I'm not sure why I haven't found my motivation, but it's not totally coming. So here's some background...

Last year I burnt out on seeking representation pretty hard. It was one of those moments of if I don't stop right now, I might say a bunch of stuff that will burn every bridge built and not built. I was angry. I was angry that there were authors getting requests and offers every day. It's not that I wasn't getting requests, because I was, but I never received any feedback at all. It was all too much. The one thing that kept me going was that I knew I wasn't the only one going through this. I wasn't alone, yet I was. I had writer "friends" going through the same thing, but they were online. No one in my physical world had any idea or understanding of what I was going through. For whatever reason, I chose not to share with anyone that I was writing, and being rejected. I was ashamed. By March, it became too much. I thought I would feel better and want to write once summer arrived, but it didn't (most likely because I was moving). Then I figured I would start writing once I got settled in. I tried, I really did, but now I sit down and am blocked.

Maybe I should write something new, but then what would that be?

Inspire me. I want to write.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNo Fail

OK, so I think I went about NaNo all wrong this year. My goal was to finish a piece of work I started last year. I already had around 30K written, so I thought I could write 20k...no problem. I even geared up for it all October by rereading and editing my WIP. I was so ready to tackle the beast. But then reality happened and I remembered that I have a job, family, and the holidays. How do writers get it all done? My new job (remember I moved from AZ to CA) at a new school has been KICKING MY BUTT. The schedule moves much quicker because it's on a block and not traditional. I may have less students, but somehow, I have more grading. For the first time in 13 years, I'm bringing A LOT of work home. That is certainly taking precedence over my writing. When I finish grading, I help the kids by feeding them, helping with homework, snuggling, etc. By the time they go to bed at 8pm, I'm ready to follow them, but then that wouldn't be fair to my husband who waits patiently to tell me about his day (new job/career).  I'm swamped.

I have taken a hiatus from teaching online with hopes to write for me, but it's not happening. :( Yesterday, I purposely didn't bring work home...I was going to write. I made dinner right away and then sat down in front of my computer. I fell asleep. It was 6:30pm and I slept. I managed to go upstairs and stay awake for an hour somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30, but then I was quickly back asleep and peaceful until my alarm went off at 5:30. Clearly I was tired.

I have no plans this weekend, other than cleaning my garage. While I've been working, I did manage to send my WIP off to a beta who gratefully sent it back a few days ago. I printed her version and mine, gathered post its, tabs, pens. I'm ready. That is my mission...to write. I have been saying this for a few days, but I really think this weekend it's going to happen. I even made a new play list on my new 5. It's only songs I REALLY like. I'm hoping they'll inspire me to move my fingers and create story. :)

OK, enough of me complaining. I wish you all the best with your writing. I know I'm not the only one struggling with writing and the holiday season and work and family. Let's commiserate together. Feel free to share on here.

J

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Break is Over

Nine days goes entirely too fast. With Thanksgiving behind me, I am now attempting to get into the Christmas spirit. My shopping is done, and my tree is trimmed. I'm ready. What I'm not entirely ready for is the next four weeks. Four weeks until Christmas means research papers to grade, portfolios to evaluate, wrapping presents, keeping children in tune with their Elf on the Shelf, and so much more. Somewhere in there, I'd like to finish my WIP, at least the first draft. I just got it back from a beta, so instead of finishing it, I'm going to polish what I've written. Hopefully, this will guide me to a more planned ending that will knock the socks off any potential readers. :) I don't think that's too much to attempt.

Well, I don't have much more to say today. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you have an even better Monday (sarcasm). We will get through this month...together. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part 2

I realize I've never reviewed a movie on here before, but I haven't posted in a while, and I was honestly, compelled to talk about my experience.

Last night, I went to see Breaking Dawn Pt 2 with my husband and older sister. Are we "twihards?" I wouldn't go that far, but my husband and I have seen all of the movies (on opening weekends), and we've read all the books.  We were truly looking forward to seeing the movie this go round.

We decided to go to the 5pm showing and arrive 45 minutes early, wanting to get good seats. To my surprise, they were already seating and we were the first there. I don't think the theater actually filled, but it is the "older" theater, so that explains a bit. I know this doesn't actually have to do with the movie itself, but I feel like it all contributed.

So the movie begins, and Bella looks great as a vampire. For the first time, Kristen's perpetual look of pain fits the role. I was pleased. Robert looked great and quite relaxed; and Taylor...his nose looked a little different, but I may have to look more into that before making an actual judgement.  Renesme was extremely CG though. I don't think she looked like a real baby until the end of the movie. Something about the size of her hand and the shape of her eyes made her look, well, creepy. Still I got past that.

What I couldn't get past was the first 40 minutes. When Edward and Bella go have vampy love for the first time and she is surrounded by her gold, glittered "O", it was a bit over the top. And their running through the woods was ...cheesy.

That being said...when the battle begins, I conveniently forgot about my irritations from the beginning. I won't reveal any spoilers, but the second half was well worth the first. I can't remember the last time I watched a movie with my mouth hanging open from shock. I can honestly say I loved it. Everything I complained about when I finished the book was fixed with the movie. Well done.

To all of you movie goers, I hope you enjoy the second half as much as I.

Harry Potter is gone and Twilight is over. What will be next? Zombies? It sure looks like it.



If you're looking for a non-paranormal read, please check out ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND TEXTS at amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Alls-Fair-Love-Texts-ebook/dp/B009MFC44Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353276176&sr=8-1&keywords=all%27s+fair+in+love+and+texts

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Tonight is Halloween and up until 4pm this afternoon, I was ready for it. Then my husband called and said that our 10 year old daughter had decided she was "too old" to trick or treat. My reaction..."WHATEVER!" So, we met after work and bought adult costumes to wear while taking our children trick or treating. He was a pirate and I was Snow White. That got her moving.

Anyway, we headed out around 6:30 and walked around for an hour before I headed back to hand out candy. Shortly after, my daughter showed up "tired". I asked her to help me hand out candy, and her response was, "No thanks." Um ok. Then husband and son returned home and we moved the show inside. My son took over candy patrol while the rest of us sat on the couch in our costumes. Then 8:00 rolled around and there were no more trick or treaters, the kids asked if they could go to bed, and we turned out the lights.

I maybe handed out one bag of candy, and I bought 4. What am I going to do with 15lbs of candy? OMG! I guess I will take it all to school and let my students pillage it. At least I won't have it staring at me for the next five months.

Overall, Halloween went well, though mildly uneventful. I'm grateful for good weather, electricity, and warmth leading me to sending out my thoughts and prayers to all those on the East Coast.

Have a great night! I hope you all had a great Halloween.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Student Interview

So, one of my prior students interviewed me for a college paper this morning, and I thought I would share it with you. I'm always so honored when these interviews happen, but this kid in particular touched my heart.
What made you choose this profession?I've wanted to be a teacher since I was a very little girl. I actually had a rolling chalkboard in my bedroom and would teach my stuffed animals (I was like 6). it was pretty cute. Anyway, I initially wanted to teach math - until it got too hard in high school LOL! Then I switched and actually majored for two years in history, but I found I was doing much better in my English classes, so I switched majors. I have a BA in English-Creative Writing. After college I moved and needed a job, so I went to the Hinesville District Office and asked, 'What do I need to do be a teacher?" After that, I was on the path I'm still on. Ultimately, this may sound cheesy, but I've always wanted to make a difference in people's lives. Sitting in an office has always seemed so boring and lonely. Every time I watched a teaching movie like Stand and Deliver, Lean on Me, Dangerous Minds, etc. I connected with those teachers and wanted to be them. It kept me going until I became a teacher.

What motivated/motivates you to get up every morning and deal with thick-headed kids everyday?The sad truth is that I realized early on in my career that there are A LOT of kids whose parents are not involved in their lives. There are very little words of encouragement or even assistance with homework. Those "thick-headed kids" are typically the ones who need the encouragement the most. I strive to be the person who fills that gap for them making them see that they are capable, intelligent, young people who have an entire life ahead of them. They can't let their parents or anyone else dictate their future, but an education can be the much needed out, so to speak. Also, it makes me truly happy to see the light turn on for them. When a kid comes in hating English and leaves having learned something and liked it, I feel like I've done my job. (It worked on you, right?) :)

How you deal with problems that occur?Problems naturally occur in any job, and in life. I take it one step at a time starting with the most crucial element first. If it's discipline, I start by talking to the student. If that doesn't work, I move to the parents. It that doesn't work, I have to go to administration. The same applies with coworkers. I try to deal with it head on rather than dwell and let it fester. I don't do well when I'm under too much emotional stress, and I tend to take EVERYTHING to heart. If I deal with it, then I can move forward, but when I don't deal with it, I tend to shut down. That never ends well hurting me more than anyone else.

And how, well at least I find that you're pretty inspiring, what I'm asking is like, how do you do it? Do you plan to chew us out and get our asses on track? Stuff like that.Well, first of all thank you for finding me inspiring. You're pretty inspiring too. But how do I do it? Hmmm.. Formally speaking, I incorporate the three R's: Rigor, Relevance, Relationship.

Rigor- I try to push my students to create more than they imagined they could. I give a lot of work, but make it fun in the process. I really step up the rigor by incorporating more higher level thinking skills, meaning making you analyze and think.

Relevance - I have found that when kids can apply what we are doing to their lives, there's more retention of the material and more buy in. When kids don't know WHY we read something or discuss something, they check out.

Relationship - this is a big one for me. I think it's important for kids to feel safe in my classroom. I start by prefacing with "don't tell me anything you don't want your parents or police to know" because by law I have to report abuse of any kind. Once that is understood, kids need to know I care. Ultimately, if a kid knows there is someone in their corner, they're more likely to perform academically for fear of letting me down. I like that. I like to see them trust me and know that I will always cheer them on.
I don't plan the "ass chewing", but sometimes kids need tough love, and that means telling the truth. If you didn't do well on an essay, why should I tell you it was good? What would you learn from that? If you're not doing your work, then you deserve the F you have earned. I have no problem pointing out that my job isn't to give you grades...you have to earn them. I also have no problem reminding kids that I'm not their friend, I'm the teacher. If we become friends in the end, that's grade, but my job is to teach and that's what feeds my own children.
Other than that, there's not much more to it. I come to work everyday, not really knowing what to expect. I take it in stride. I hope I answered everything you needed, but if you need more, let me know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This is Crazy

I can't believe I have been holding onto this book for three years and not sharing it. My fear gripped me so tightly I honestly believed that if an agent didn't like it, then it must be crap. So far, everyone who has read it has emailed me, texted me, or came to me in person and told me how much they liked/loved it and couldn't put it down. Granted, I've only sold 31 copies since I made it live two weeks ago, but honestly, that's way better than I expected.

One thing I have learned from this experience is that kids need to promote this book. As an adult, I can advertise it on twitter, facebook, my blog, etc., but adults are not the intended audience. Kids are. Marketing to kids is much tougher than I ever imagined. This will be a continued work in progress and I will continue to talk about this as I learn.

Another thing I have learned from this is that I am a good writer. That has been confirmed by people I thought would hate it. My confidence in my writing is returning making me want to work harder on my WIP. That's exciting.  Anyway, not much else to report.

If you're new to my blog....
ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND TEXTS is a YA contemporary. It is available on amazon.com. You can read it using the kindle app, which you can download for free on any mobile device, tablet, or computer. :) Take a look. If you like, spread the word.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

After taking quite some time off of writing, I'm reentering the writer world. Today, I printed the first thirty pages of an old WIP friend and began editing. I figure I need to reacquaint myself with it before I can continue writing it, so editing it is. I have to say, being away from it for so long has allowed me to read with a little less bias. I got through the first thirty pages and remembered why I loved this WIP so much. Now, I just might be hooked once again.

Publishing Love and Texts has freed me. I no longer have to think about it, which is nice. Of course, now I'm watching the stats and reading comments, but I'm not stressing over the query process. This has given me the opportunity to breathe enough to want to write again. So now I will. I'm 95 pages into this WIP, and more importantly, want to finish it. This will be my task. I started it during NANO last year, so my mission is to finish it by the end of NANO this year. I don't think that will be too hard considering I know it's only a first draft. First, I must finish editing, and then I can write. I'm not going to set any unrealistic goals, either. I plan on working a little each day on it. As long as everyday I work, I should make my goal.

So what does this mean? To Where and Back is coming, and it will happen. The only unsure thing is...will I query it or just ePub and save myself some time? I don't know the answer to that yet, and honestly, I'm not going to think about it after right now.

I wish you all a good night. I'm off to edit. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

A New Day

Well, after clicking the publish button, I had a barrage of emotions come over me. At first, I was excited, but then terror took over. Did I do the right thing? What have I just done? OMG! OMG! OMG! Now, two days later, I feel good. All's Fair in Love and Texts is my baby, which I am extremely proud of. I know of a few who are reading it at the present time, and so far the feedback has been good.

I'm happy. :)

What's my next step? Now, I need to find someone to make the cover for Keridwen. Once I have that, I will be publishing that as well, leading me to finishing its sequel. I'm officially back in the writing world.

Now I just have to tell my family. hee-hee

ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND TEXTS can be purchased on amazon.com for $1.99.

Please spread the word.

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm back

Good evening to whomever stops by. After taking a six month break, I am back in the writing world, and I did something incredibly courageous this evening. I clicked publish on KDP for All's Fair in Love and Texts. It will be available for purchase in the morning.

I know this is a short post, but I didn't want to jump back in with a long one. :) I hope this finds you all well.

J

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Itch is Returning

So, I haven't written anything in almost three months. It's been nice taking care of other stuff for a while, but now the itch is coming back. I have some WIPs started and each one is calling my name, but one in particular is calling a bit louder than the others. It's scary though to think about reentering that world. The world where ideas consume me in my sleep and pour out of my fingers onto the keyboard. I still have so much going on at home, but writing can be so invigorating. I've been playing with the formatting for Love and Texts and even have a new cover for it in case I want to ePublish it, but working on something new is intriguing.

I think I need to gather up some CPs and work again. Anyone interested?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Continued Home Repairs

Spring cleaning has taken on a new meaning in my home this past week. As many of you may be aware, my home flooded three weeks ago. In my last post, I spoke about home repairs. This last week, I was on Spring Break, and let me tell you, there was no resting. With my in-laws in town, we pulled up carpet, sanded base boards, cleaned them and painted them. My father-in-law took down all 21 of our doors, sanded them and painted them while my husband and I sanded, cleaned, taped and painted the door frames. This took eight hours a day and nine days to complete. We are exhausted and still have one room left to paint the base boards. In the meantime, we are waiting for our new carpet to arrive and be installed. In two weeks, our house will look like brand new.

As for the rest of the spring cleaning, I went through every room and closet and purged. It was wonderful loading my car and donating what we don't use. Each day was a new trip filled with toys, clothes, books, and other non-essentials. But more importantly, while purging my house, I purged myself. I cleaned out the cobwebs forming in my mind trapping all thoughts of self-doubt. I'm feeling much more like my early self. I'm hopeful once again. I want to relish in this and enjoy as long as I can. I can't say I'm writing again, but I am welcoming the thoughts once again. I'm not diving in right away, but it's coming. I have eight more weeks of school and then I may be indulging in the sound of my fingers typing on the keyboard. Who knows what the future holds, but I do know I'm going to focus on one thing...being happy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Home Repairs

My life has been taken over by home repairs thanks to our recent water issue.  We have decided to replace all of the carpeting in the house, which won't take place for a couple of weeks, but woo-hoo, I'm excited. This weekend my husband and his father have been replacing the baseboards which were torn out, and now we have been busy sanding, filling holes, and starting painting trim molding. The only problem is that now we have to do the whole house so that it matches.

Once the above is done, I know what comes next...the doors. And inevitably the walls. This process is back breaking and tiresome, but the house will look so much better after it's done.

As for writing, that's completely on the back burner. I think this flood was His way of telling me it's time for an official break. I know I said before I was stopping for a while, but I ultimately kept going back to it. Now, I just don't have the time.  Between repairs and work, I'm swamped and exhausted. I have eight more weeks of school and then I am free once again for two months. Perhaps I will start writing then. I really had some feelers out, but it didn't come to fruition. I've started thinking about epubbing again, but who knows. As I said, time is not plentiful.

Anyway, I am off to dinner. My wonderful mother-in-law has cooked lasagna from scratch, and it smells delicious. Good night. :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Make Lemonade

So, some of you may already know this, but my house flooded on Friday. I came home from work to find the dink sink in my laundry room turned on and two towels in the sink disallowing it to drain. We think the cats did it.  Anyway, I am guessing it ran all day because when I got home from work, there was about an inch of standing water throughout my house. Thankfully about half of my house is tile, but the bedrooms (four of them) are carpet. We immediately called insurance and within an hour there was a water mitigation crew arrived and they worked quickly to clean it up. We were in a hotel for three nights, and are now back in the house - thank goodness. There is damage, but it could be worse. While we wait for the repairs to begin, I am making the most of the situation and going one room at a time, purging the unused toys, clothes, shoes, books, etc. I have to be proactive, or I might go crazy. Any personal time is gone, so even if I wanted to write, I can't. Being served lemons is such an understatement at the present time. The same day my house flooded, I woke to news that I lost a writing contest. Honestly, there were probably hundreds of entries, so I'm not surprised. I'm one week away from spring break, and it can't come soon enough. There is so much work to be done at home, but I still have to go to work every day. My children have been through a lot.

Lemonade is all I can do. I can't allow this to define me. I have to be strong for the family. We need to pick new carpet out for two rooms, and live with concrete under the carpet for the time being. My laundry is out of control, but I'm tackling it today. I don't know how people survive floods where they lose everything. I'm considerably lucky and the minimal amount of damage as is.

As far as my writing goes, I know I said I wasn't going to anymore, but let's be realistic...I can run from it but I can't hide. I just don't have the time. The things I once saw as being a big deal are now not so big anymore. I have to focus on my kids and our home. I can't think about me. I don't want to dwell any longer.

Anyway, that's an update on me. My message to you all is when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We need to be able to see the silver lining or we drown.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Still Writing - slowly

Ok, I admit I've been writing. My new WIP is out with a beta, unfinished, but getting closer. I reached 91 pages last night. It's dark to say the least. I started it in a dark place, and figured I need to finish it. I put it aside for a solid two months, and when I came back to it, I had to reread to get caught up. I can honestly say, I couldn't remember what I had written. Don't get me wrong the ideas were/are still in my head, but the details were already gone. Anyway, as I read it, there were parts that genuinely choked me up. It's hard reading such emotion and not getting swept away in it all over again.

I'm enjoying the process, though. I have another third of the book to write once revisions are done, and those will be taking place as soon as I get the feedback. I'm trying my hardest not to think about publishing, but I do wonder if it's too dark for the YA market. If it is, oh well. At least I can say I have another completed manuscript under my belt. I read somewhere that it takes 750,000 words before you write solid stuff. That being said, I think I'm at about 400k if you count all of my short stories along with various version of manuscripts. That has definitely given some perspective to the whole process. Ultimately, one day, I will reach that word count.

Well that's it for my update. I am off to grade 90 literary analysis papers. It won't happen in a single night, but I do have a deadline. Have a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update on the Dream

So, I had quite a few comments and emails in response to my last post. I'm so sorry to have let so many people down. I realize that I will probably never totally stop writing. I hope you all know that. I've been writing since I was a little girl, so even if I wanted to, I don't know how not to write. I say I'm not a writer, but the truth is that even when I'm driving down the street, my mind is constantly going.

I guess the reality is that when I said I'm no longer a writer, I really mean I am consciously making an effort to write under the radar. I was a happier person before I started the querying process. So many people have reminded me that I am not alone in all this. Whether agented, not agented, published or not published, a good friend of mind reminded me that writing is a lonely thing. It's one of the most self-deprecating actions along with being demoralizing. I never used to write with publishing in the back of my mind (honestly), but once that first query letter was sent out, it seems like publishing became the main focus and not my heart. This is what led me to my last post. I don't want to obsess. I never did, but somehow, the monster took over. I don't want to be that writer anymore. I want to be who I was five years ago - naive and hopeful. Have I given up? A little. On writing...no. On publishing...a little. Primarily, I just want to find the love of writing again. I want to write and feel completely lost in the story. I want to lie in bed at night trying to fall asleep, but my mind keeps plotting. It's been a long time since the story has taken over and made me feel like I was just the automobile being driven by the idea. I don't want to watch my email all day long or endless twitter watching hoping for any kind of secret revealing the key into the publishing realm. I don't want to feel envy and jealousy every time I see a new book cover reveal or publication date. I just want to write and not feel pressure.

So was my last post a tad dramatic? Yes, but I meant every word. I want to write and be satisfied with what I do. And even if it's not "good enough", at least I know it's good.

Another good friend of mine reminded me that I was previously working on a "darker" piece and she wanted me to work on that. I haven't even read it in months. So, I sat down completely detached and read what I wrote. About 15 pages in, I was crying. I wasn't crying for me, but rather the story. I couldn't believe I wrote those chapters with such passion and feeling pouring in all of the feelings I experienced in my life into the story. It took me back to the pain in just a few words. I then emailed my friend and asked if it made her cry too, and she emailed me back with a "YES".  I'm sure you're wondering what the point of my story of is, so here it is. Did the chapters need editing? Yes. More importantly, though, was it good. Yes. I'm not trying to be delusional, but if it makes people cry, there must be something there.

Anyway, I want to apologize to those I let down. I will not disappear. I'm still here, if only on the blog and occasionally on twitter. I want to be relateable. If I'm not alone, neither are you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Dream has Died

It’s been a long journey, but I’ve decided to not pursue my writing at all any longer. All my life, I’ve dabbled in writing, to the degree of getting my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing.  It’s fun and I do enjoy it, but this last year and a half has depleted me of the love for it.  I know now that I made a huge mistake. I foolishly got swept up in the desire to be published.  In the past I’ve even tried to lie to myself and say that I was just going to write for myself, but publishing still lingered in my mind.  I don’t believe that writers who are online and participating in social media are truly only writing for themselves.  If that were the case, they wouldn’t be talking to other writers and agents and editors networking.  We all have dreams, but I think it’s important I be honest with myself.

As a teacher, we are taught early on to always provide feedback to our students. This feedback is an integral part of their education allowing them to see where they can improve.  Writers look to agents, editors, publishers, and others for feedback.  They are our teachers. What I have learned in this time is that they will not give feedback the majority of the time. They are busy, which I understand, but I cannot grow as a writer without the feedback.  What I take from no feedback is that my writing might me good, but not good enough. That’s all. This has created self-doubt and a disintegrating love of writing, which I would hate to do to any of my own students. I feel as though my teachers have failed me.

My husband always praises for me for not giving up on my dream, but now I have to disappoint him, and myself, by “quitting”. Though I don’t see it as quitting, I see it as I tried for three solid years (perhaps a few longer), and got nowhere.  Quitting would be stopping after that first rejection letter.  I have received over 200 letters over the years. Now, I know someone will say, but JK Rowling was rejected so many times as were other amazing writers, but those numbers are few in a sea of so many.  Agents like to argue that there are few self-published authors who make it big trying to persuade writers not to go that route. The same can be said for rejection letters, queries, etc. The odds are not in my favor.  I’ve given the odds three years of endlessly rewriting, querying, critiquing, twitter following, checking my email, hoping, crying, hoping again, and ultimately, being let down. All with no feedback from the instructors themselves.

I have met many wonderful people through this process who have been wonderful cheerleaders and even friends. I hope they do not go my route. I hope they achieve what they’re reaching for in a short time. I also hope they continue to trust me with critiquing, editing, and just listening. I’m not quitting on them.

What’s in store for my future? I’d love to say I’m not writing anymore, but that’s incredibly unrealistic. I teach Creative Writing, so I’m still absorbed in that which leads to me writing.  I still may write, but I’m going to shut down for a while. I may go back to dabbling not thinking about genre or word count or goals or agents or editors. But I think that will take time. I won’t be blogging or tweeting; I’m going to focus on my family and jobs. I’m truly sad saying good-bye to this side of me, but the roller coaster must come to a stop.

I thought about self-publishing, but if 200 rejections tell me I’m not good enough, I fear putting my work out there and tarnishing my name. I could create a pseudonym, but let’s be honest…the truth always comes out.  Self-publishing flops would destroy me.

So, a writer I am no more. It’s been an experience, but the dream is dead.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thirteen years ago, I married my best friend.  He's my everything, and we were lucky enough to seal the deal on Valentine's Day. Now, I find the day to not only be about love, but about romance, and I'm grateful for that.

My husband is one of the most amazing men I know.  Since we got married, we've been through a lot.  He went to Bosnia to deal with landmines.  He left for training for deployment missing the birth of our first born (our daughter). He fought in Iraq during the initial push into Baghdad, which meant missing our daughter's first nine months of life. After our son was born, my husband went through two kidney reconstruction surgeries, which ultimately saved his life.  We've lived in three states, been through multiple jobs, have two beautiful children, and now we are still happy after all is said and done.  We have seen poverty at a level many have no idea. I can remember sitting on my family room floor with no furniture, eating MREs because we couldn't afford food.  We went from being dual income to single income for over a year, and made it work on what we had.  But now, we are comfortable and living with less stress. We've been through a lot.

Through 13 years, we've had ups, downs, light days and dark, but we've always had each other.  He's the person I want to see first thing in the morning and the last person I see when I go to sleep.  I want to be able to reach my foot over and touch his foot in the middle of the night just to know he's there.  He's my rock when I'm down and my strength when I'm afraid.  He is the best person for me, and I consider myself extremely lucky.

My husband does little things for me. He plucks my eyebrows and paints my nails. He knows when I twist my mouth, I'm thinking, and when I frown, I need to laugh.  He knows me better than anyone could ever know me, and I thank him for that.

I know that no matter what happens in my future with jobs, writing, schooling, etc., he will always be by my side. There are no real words to express what I'm feeling in my heart.

Even as I sit here and ramble about him, I am getting teary because I'm so happy. I love him with all my heart and can't imagine a day without him. He's my one and only Valentine.

So for all of you out there, I hope you, too, have the happiness I have.

Mike, I love you. Happy Valentine's Day and Anniversary. You've made me the happiest woman alive for 13 years, and I look forward to the rest of our lives together.

Love,
Jamie

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Things on my Mind

So, I made a decision to write for me effective February 1.  What does this mean? It means I'm making a conscious effort not to stress over being published or finding an agent as much as I have for the past year.  There are a few problems with this new goal.

1)I'm writing the sequel to Keridwen. This means that if Keridwen One doesn't get published, I'm writing K2 for essentially my shelf or computer only.

2)The more I write of K2 (working/temp title), the more I want others to read it. 

3)The itch becomes more prominent, the more real K2 becomes.

So, as much as I want to say I'm only writing for me, I'm finding it challenging to maintain my original decision.  I want Keridwen to be loved by others.  It's not about the money or just being able to say I'm published. I truly want people to read it and love it.  I want a series to come out of it.  Do I think it's the next Harry Potter? No.  I'm a realist.  HP isn't going to happen again for a LONG time.  The only other series I think that can compare to the HP craze is Lord of the Rings (not my favorite, but I can appreciate its popularity).  That being said, Lord of the Rings was written in the 1930s and 40s. That was 80 years ago, so the likely hood of us seeing the next HP series is well, unlikely.

Anyway, as a realist, I know how hard it is to get an agent. The odds are against me and every other new writer.  There are simply too many of us and only so many agents as well as publishers.  They have to be picky.  They have to be selective.  There's always the self-pup route, which is good for some, but for me, it's not what I want.  I want to hear, "this is good stuff", and "I'd like to work with you."  This means I must have patience, which I desperately try to have.  I have good days and bad. I'm human, though.  Today is today, and that's all I can ask for.  I know I must work for this if I want it, and that means enduring the bad days and appreciating the good ones.

I can say this.  I am a hard worker and open to change. Having two great CPs is such a benefit. I'm not afraid to hear something needs to change, and I'm certainly not arrogant enough to believe it's perfect as is.  In all reality, I want to hear the truth so I can learn. I want to be better.

So this was the random stuff on my mind today and thought I would share. Have a good night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grammar Tips Wednesday - Affect v. Effect

Ok, so this is a tough one.  Affect and Effect are commonly mixed up, but once you know the difference, they're not that difficult.

Affect is a verb.  For example: Her laziness will affect her grade. 
The laziness is actually doing something to the grade.  Affect is a verb because it does something.

Effect is a noun.  The effect on her grade is that she will fail.  With every cause, there is an effect.  Because a noun is a person, place, thing or idea, effect is a noun. 

I hope that was clear for you all. Good luck!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flash Fiction change

I've been doing Flash Fiction Friday for a month and have discovered I get the least amount of hits on my blog on those days, so I am going to take a break from it for a bit.  In the meantime, I will keep doing Grammar Tips Wednesdays and occasional other posts.  I'm working on a new WIP and thoroughly enjoying the process.  I've also formed a critique circle with two amazing women.  I'm very excited about this new process.

I'm still participating in Flash Fiction with my students, so if there is a request for samples, I will gladly post them up.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grammar Tips Wednesday: Loose and Lose, Choose and Chose

Hi everyone,

I've been grading essays all week and have come across this mistake numerous times.  There is a difference between Loose and Lose and Choose and Chose.  In fact, there's quite a big difference.
The extra O makes a huge difference.  Please be conscientious when you are writing these words.

All definitions are coming from Dictionary.com

Loose is defined as

loose

[loos] Show IPA adjective, loos·er, loos·est, adverb, verb loosed, loos·ing.
adjective
1.
free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end.
2.
free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered: loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
3.
uncombined, as a chemical element.
4.
not bound together: to wear one's hair loose.
5.
not put up in a package or other container: loose mushrooms.
 
Lose is defined as

lose

[looz] Show IPA verb, lost, los·ing.
verb (used with object)
1.
to come to be without (something in one's possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery: I'm sure I've merely misplaced my hat, not lost it.
2.
to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered: I just lost a dime under this sofa.
3.
to suffer the deprivation of: to lose one's job; to lose one's life.
4.
to be bereaved of by death: to lose a sister.
5.
to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain: to lose one's balance; to lose one's figure.
 
Choose is defined as

choose

[chooz] Show IPA verb, chose; cho·sen or ( Obsolete ) chose; choos·ing.
verb (used with object)
1.
to select from a number of possibilities; pick by preference: She chose Sunday for her departure.
2.
to prefer or decide (to do something): He chose to run for election.
3.
to want; desire.
4.
(especially in children's games) to contend with (an opponent) to decide, as by odd or even, who will do something: I'll choose you to see who gets to bat first.
 
Chose is defined as

chose

1 [chohz] Show IPA
verb
1.
simple past tense of choose.
2.
Obsolete . past participle of choose.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Something New

Ok, so I tried falling asleep last night, but this practically wrote itself in my mind keeping me somewhat awake for quite some time.  I figured I should probably get it out of my head when I got home today, so here it is...

BTW, if you want to read more, let me know and I will post every couple of days that I write this...

            She sat on her mom's floral couch purposely on the opposite side from Brian quietly wishing he would leave.  She'd broken up with him weeks ago, but he still stopped by every day to hang out making the situation that much more awkward.  Why didn't he get the joke that it was over? After two years together, he should know by now this time was for real.  But Kayla couldn't find the words or the guts to hurt him enough to make him come to terms with reality, so instead, they watched TV in silence. 

            Her phone rang in her hand and Derek's number popped up on the screen. She smiled to herself and ran down the hall of her little apartment where she could answer in the semi-privacy of her bedroom. "Hello?"

            "Hey," he greeted her.

            Excitement flooded her body as she heard his voice.  This was the first time she had hope happiness could exist in a long time, but guilt from Brian down the hall crept in as well. "Hi, how are you?"

            "I'm good. How was school?" he asked knowing they'd only been apart for a few hours.

            "It was alright. How about you?" The small talk killed her, but she knew it was necessary at this stage of their brewing relationship.

            "It was cool. So I was thinking that we could go out this weekend," he jumped straight in.

            But before she could answer, Brian interrupted from the family room. "BABE! The movie is starting!"

            She covered the mouth piece of the phone hoping Derek hadn't heard. The last thing she wanted was to explain Brian to the boy she was starting to like.  "Hey, I gotta go.  Can I call you later?"

            "Um, sure," Derek answered, but she could hear the disappointment in his voice.

            "Hey, I do want to talk to you, but there's something I need to take care of first." She knew the time had come for her to put her foot down with Brian.  She'd never be able to move on if he was hanging around her house all the time.

            "Sure. I'll talk to you later."

            When she hung up her phone, she was exhausted and frustrated. She wanted to pursue things with Derek, but Brian was getting in the way. As she walked back down the hall, Brian was curled up on the couch with a soda in one hand and the remote in the other.  She took the moment to look at him with a new sense of direction. With his short brown hair and blue eyes, he wasn't bad looking.  For a long time, she'd admired how his volleyball player build gave him great legs and body without making him too bulky.  She'd loved that about him, but now there was...nothing.  How had it gotten this convoluted?

            "Brian, I think you should go home."

            He looked up and smiled.  "I will when this is over."

            Defeat took over. She didn't have the energy to fight with him, so she sat down instead and watched the movie on the opposite side of the couch without saying another word.

            The next day at school, she met up with Ethan, her best guy friend.  They met over a year ago and were inseparable.  "Ethan, I just don't get it. He won't stop coming over."

            "Kay, you've got to tell him it's over," he suggested.
            "Ethan, I broke up with him.  I'm not sure how much more I can say without tearing him apart."

            "I get it, but you've got to tell him something.  Anyway, I'll come over today. Maybe he'll get the gist from that," Ethan declared.

            "Ok, but don't get all guy with him. I don't want a fight." She was desperate for something to change and this may have been the ultimate solution.  Ethan was awesome, but it was clear they were just friends.  He didn't seem interested in the least. Plus, Derek was obviously into her. There were too many variables to think about and Brian shouldn't be in the picture any longer. "Why don't we go get a bite instead? I don't want to go home yet."

            "Ok, that works."

            After school, Kayla and Ethan went for a milkshake and hung out for what felt like forever. "Ethan, thanks for this afternoon. I needed it." She hugged him before getting in her car. "You're the best."

            "Anytime.  I'm here for you. You know that, right?" he asked hugging her back.

            When she pulled away, she was grateful for his friendship.  "I do. I'll call you later."

            "Bye," he said and she drove away.

            Her whole ride home she wondered what things would be like if he wasn't just her friend. He was entirely too cute for her, not to mention nice.  Just thinking about his rock hard abs and chest made her a little giddy. She even took a moment to imagine running her fingers through his chocolate curls, but snapped out of it remembering their friendship.  There was no chance in her mind. But when she pulled into the parking lot, Brian was sitting in his car waiting pulling her head first from her other thoughts.  Instead of being excited to see him, she sighed wondering if this would ever end.

            "What are you doing here?" she asked walking up to his truck's window.

            "I was waiting for you to get home. Where've you been?"

            "I went for something to eat with some friends." Never before had she been more irritated by his presence. "Brian, I've been out of school for over two hours.  How long have you been waiting for me?"

            "Only about thirty minutes.  I was going to leave if you didn't show up in another fifteen." His creeper status was rising an at exponential rate freaking her out to the core.

            This only irritated her even more.  "Ok, whatever." She walked past him to the stairs leading to her door.  She wasn't going to invite him, but he followed her regardless. 

            When they entered her apartment, she wished she wasn't alone all the time. If her mom had been home more often, maybe she wouldn't have been with him for so long.  Instead, for the past year, her mom had been off with her ex-step-dad "dating" on the weekends.  For six months, Kayla had been fending for herself every weekend staying with Brian only for the company.  But enough was enough.  She no longer wanted to be tied down to a guy she didn't like.

            "Brian, you need to take the rest of your stuff with you today," she said pointing to a bag of CDs and other miscellaneous belongings.

            He took a deep breath before answering, "Kayla, can we talk?"

            "What about?" she asked fearing what was about the happen.  She couldn't even sit down; instead, she shifted her weight and leaned on the back of a chair in her miniature kitchen.

            "I miss you. Can't we work this out?" He looked pathetic. 

            "No. We can't," she answered shocked at the courage forming in her stomach.

            He looked shocked, but he continued. "I love you. Please can we try this again. Don't you love me at all?"

            Those words were the ones she dreaded the most, but she knew deep down the truth had to be told. "No, I don't. It's over."

            He looked like she'd punched him in the stomach and ripped out his heart. "Oh."

            "Brian, we can still be friends," she instinctively offered wanting to make it less harsh than it had to be, but he flinched.

            "I can't be friends with you. I can't be around you anymore."  Tears spilled from his eyes as he pushed past her and walked out the door.

            There were no good-byes, just hurt feelings as she stood there in shock it was over.  But then she looked at the table and saw the bag. Shit, he's coming back. So she waited, and sure enough, the doorbell rang forty-five minutes later. There he stood with a bag for her.  It was everything she'd "left" at his house.  "I'm sorry," she said as they exchanged bags, but he didn't answer.  He just took his things, turned around, and walked down the stairs without another word said.

            When she shut the door, she sat on the floor bracing herself with the wall and cried.  Two years were over and done.  She didn't cry out of heartbreak, but rather from the end of a phase in her life.  Now she was finally free to move on, but how?


Friday, January 27, 2012

FL3F #4 Horrible Mistakes

The glass shattered in her hand when she learned these would be her last 24 hours alive.  The news was so shocking, she hadn't realized her hand was bleeding with shards of glass protruding from her palm.  It was numbing for a few seconds, but the reality sunk in quickly knowing her time was running out.

Instead of going about her regular routine, Samantha grabbed her purse and headed for the door with dozens of eyes questioning her leaving.  She knew they wanted answers, but she had none to give. "I'm leaving," was all she could get out of her mouth before the door closed and she ran down the hall to the building's exit. 

"Mrs. Curtis!" her boss called from behind her, but she didn't even flinch. She just kept running for her car. 

She drove home to her children wanting nothing more than to spend her last living moments with them by her side.  "I love you so much," she assured them without revealing too much.

"Mommy, we love you too. Why are you so sad?" her son asked. It always amazed her how intuitive her children had become the older they got.

"Mommy isn't sad. I just want to spend time with you," she lied.  There on the couch, they sat watching a tv show she had little interest in but knew they were happy.  Her children clung to each side of her while she thought about tomorrow.  Would they be ok without her? Would they remember her in ten years? How would her daughter look on her wedding day? Would her son graduate from college? Too many questions ran through her mind. There wasn't enough time.

"Let's go to the park," she offered.

Her children jumped up, "YES!" they answered before she could have another thought.  The three grabbed their coats and headed for the door ready for an adventure.  As they walked to the park, her children talked wildly about their day at school, what they learned, and what they wanted to do for lunch tomorrow.  It was all too much for her to soak in.  How could she leave them? It wasn't fair.

She watched her children slide on the slide, swing on the swings, and run freely on the grass. It was the ideal afternoon she never wanted to end.  As the sun began to set, dinner was entering her mind.  She wanted tonight to be the best last dinner, but all she could imagine making was eggs and toast.  Breakfast for dinner was the family favorite. Together they ate as a family while Samantha took it all in.  Time was moving too quickly. 

The baths she considered mundane were special that night as she prepared her children for bed.  Once the teeth were brushed, hair was combed, and children were dressed, she tucked each in for their sleep.

"Good night my dear," she said to each kissing both children on the forehead. She could feel the tears slipping down her cheeks as she shut each bedroom door.  "I don't want to die," she whispered to herself before walking to her bedroom.

As she climbed in her bed, she said a prayer for the first time in many years. "God, please take care of my children. Please let them grow to be good people, be successful, and most of all, please let them be happy." She forgot how far faith could take her, but those words brought her incredible comfort that night.  She knew it would all be ok.

The next morning, she woke looking around surprised she was still in her room. She wasn't sure what she expected, but her room was not it at all.  She reached for her phone instinctively, but this morning there as a text message.

>False alarm. There was a HUGE error when your tests were read. Please call ASAP<

Samantha's hands shook as she dialed the number to her doctor's office.  "May I speak with Dr. Brown? This is Samantha Curtis." Silence followed.

"Mrs. Curtis, there has been a terrible mistake.  You are going to be fine."  These words shook her to the core. She had a new lease on a life she had taken for granted.  Today would be the first day of the rest of her life. She wasn't going to waste a moment more.