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