Saturday, October 25, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - 15 Teenagers and Me

It's that time of year again...

OMG! So, this year I have around 15 students participating with me from my school. What makes this extraordinarily amazing is that I teach at an Alternative High School, which I like to refer to as the Island for Misfit Toys. These kids are not what you would think. Most people think that alternative high schools are full of delinquents who are in and out of jail. Well, not mine. Most of my students just didn't fit in to the comprehensive mold . They got lost in the sea of students flooding in and out of classrooms designed for 25 but housed 38. These are kids who are so inspiring, they make me want to be a better person, teacher, mom, etc. Anyway, I have roughly 15 participating in NaNo this year. They have been outlining, mapping with post its, talking about stories, etc. for almost a month. I'm so excited to see how they do. I even said that I thought they should go for 30k since they're kids, but when they heard that last year you could get your ms printed for free (1-3 copies...I can't remember) they all said they want to go for 50k. OK then. Let's do this. 

That being said, the pressure is on. I have been so busy that I have let my own NaNo get away from me, and since I'm a planner, this is a bit overwhelming. So last night the official planning began. I have seven days to get my stuff together because I feel like if I don't do it, I'm letting them down as well. YIKES! 

So, wish me luck! I'll check in from time to time to let you all know how we're doing. It's official... I'm a ...

LET'S DO THIS!

P.S. If you do read this and are doing NaNoWriMo, please comment in the comments. I'd love to show my kids how real the support is out there. Thanks!!!!  



Friday, September 5, 2014

Feedback and Moving Forward

So I didn't get chosen for Pitchwars, but honestly, I'm not surprised at all. I really shouldn't have entered at all, but I didn't want to not. Ok, that thinking makes no sense, but at least I can acknowledge that.

Anyway, now I need to look forward to NaNoWriMo. It's less than two months away, and I need to start planning. The problem is that my plate is full and I'm barely moving towards it to do anything about it. Here's my list:

  1.  finish writing The Guardians (Keridwen sequel)
  2. make a cover for The Guardians and put up on Amazon
  3. Edit Waiting for Heaven again
  4. make a cover for Waiting for Heaven and put up on Amazon
  5. plan for NaNo
  6. write chapter summaries
  7. Write book (November)
  8. Revisit I Found Myself in My Gym Locker
OMG! Too Much to Do!

I really want to do all of this before January 1 because I want to make sure I finish my New Year's Resolutions (1-4). 

The problem is that life keeps getting in the way. I need to stop making excuses though. I need to get my butt in a chair and start writing. Get working!

I've put all three of my books back up on Amazon. To Where and Back is there. All's Fair in Love and Texts is on free promotion for five days. It's been downloaded over 350 times in 36 hours. Hopefully, it gets some good reviews.

Then Keridwen is going to be on promotion with a price cut in October from 2.99 to .99. I'm hoping that if people like All's Fair in Love and Texts, it will encourage them to buy one of the other two. Also, I want to finish Guardians so that people who liked Keridwen can purchase that one. This is a slow process, but I'm ok with it. 

OK, I've rambled quite a bit. Go check out my books on Amazon. I love any and all support and am HUGELY GRATEFUL! 

Have a great night!

J

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#PitchWars Mentee Bio


Hi Mentors! If you're reading this, then you might be interested in me, so here I am. I'm a teacher by day and mom/wife/writer/housekeeper/etc by night. I know that sounds like a lot, but I am also a multitasker extraordinaire. I love being busy. As far as writing goes, I've wanted to write since I was a little girl. It started with stories on index cards and turned into "short stories" in high school. In college, decided to make it my mission, so I majored in Creative Writing. I was so into it that I wrote all the time, even when it wasn't an assignment. I know, I sound like every other writer. I know. Well, this part might not. I got married and stopped writing for years. I dabbled here and there, but nothing stuck. I talked about writing, but did nothing about it. Then I met an author. A real live published author. I told him I wanted to write and he told me that there were two types of writers - those who talk about it and those who do it. That stung, so I sat down and started to write my first "novel". Since then I've written five. Each time, trying to find my voice. I've written adult and been told, try YA. I've written YA, and been told, try Adult. Now, I'm trying MG. Why? Because I live with one. My daughter is starting middle school and her voice resonates in my head...all the time. She's always there. I listen to her friends...all the time. I know exactly what she is going through because we talk about it...all the time. It's pretty awesome.

As a writer, I'm so open to suggestions. I want to get published, so that means I'm willing to work hard to make that happen. If you're questioning me at all, please know this: I want this. I have thick skin. I love improving. I'm yours.

PICK ME! :)

Happy #PitchWars!

J

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pitchwars Mentor List

Hi again,

The list I previously posted is still valid but down for some editing. Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, please follow my blog so it will alert you when it comes back up.

Thank you so much,
Jamie :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pitch Wars Mentor Breakdown

Hi everyone,
I know that I like to see things broken down into chunks. For Pitchwars, it's no different. As I went through the mentors to see who I might query, I broke them down into chunks/categories and figured I would share. I'm sorry that they're not hyper-linked, but it's definitely something. I hope this helps at least one of you out there. Good luck in Pitchwars!

**If you see any changes that need to be made, please let me know.

YA - There are a ton:
Kes Trester
Stephanie Garber
Veronica Bartles
Dannie McCulloch
Brianna Shrum
Emily Martin
Rae Chang
NK Traver
Renee Ahdieh
Stephanie Scott
Erica Chapman
Lori Goldstein
Sarah Guillory
Marieke Nijkamp
Sarah Nicholas
Ricki Schultz
Rachel Lynn Solomon
Maggie Hall
Kelly Loy Gilbert
Molly Lee
Trisha Leigh
Diana Gallagher
Virginia Boecker
Jaye Robin Brown
Sharon Johnston
Monica Bustamante Wagner
Fiona McLaren
Lauren Spieller
Lindsay Currie
Meredith McCardle
Jessie Devine
Kate Karyus Quinn
Jessie Humphries
Trisha Leaver
Evelyn Ehrlich
Stacey Lee
Rebecca Yarros
Cole Gibson

MG:
Joy McCullough Carranza
Brent Taylor
Gail Nall
EM Caines
Juliana Brandt
Michelle Hauck
Ben Brooks
Naomi Hughes
Brooks Benjamin
KT Hanna
Stacey Trombley
Stephanie Waas
Ronni Arno Blaisdell
Cat Scully
Cecily White

NA - I broke apart NA and Adult because some chose one or the other or both:
Jennifer Blackwood
Elizabeth Briggs
JC Nelson
Charlie Holmberg
Natasha Neagle
Brianna Shrum
Rae Chang
LS Murphy
Sarah Nicholas
Rachel Lynn Solomon
Eden Plantz
Diana Gallagher
Brighton Walsh
Jaime Loren
Julie Sondra Decker
Kristen Strassel
Shana Silver
Sharon Johnston
Mina Vaughn
Kara Leigh Miller
Rebecca Yorros

Adult:
Jennifer Blackwood
Elizabeth Briggs
SK Falls
JC Nelson
Charlie Holmberg
Sarah Henning
Natasha Neagle
Amy Reichert
Dan Koboldt
Karma Brown
LS Murphy
Eden Plantz
Brighton Walsh
Jaime Loren
Julie Sondra Decker
Kristen Strassel
Shana Silver
Mina Vaughn
Whitney Fletcher
Jami Nord
Kara Leigh Miller

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Holy Humbling, Batman!

My ego was seriously out of control when it came to writing a query. That has changed!

Oh my gosh! Writing a query SUCKS! I remember when I first started this whole writing thing (with queries and such). I thought I totally understood what it meant to write a query. I even spent the last three years querying books and getting rejections. I was convinced that the query was solid. Well, guess what?! It wasn't.

I mentioned in my last post that I hired someone to assist with my query writing. I'm not sure if she wants me saying her name on here, so I'll hold it in for now, but she's kicking my butt. In a good way. I get to try five times with my query. Each time, she breaks it apart leaving me with quite a bit to think about when I get it back. It's really hard.

I actually commented about how hard it's getting and she said that it should be hard. If it weren't I wasn't doing it right. Three years ago, I would have scoffed it off. Hell, two months ago, I probably would have, but now, I am getting it. She's pushing me like no one has before and this is just with my query. I'm getting seriously nervous about what she has to say about my manuscript. Holy Moly!

This is such a humbling experience. I know I can't be the only writer who has been down this path of having the ego ripped out from under you like an area rug. I am a student all over again. I like it. :)

Anyone have a similar story? I'd love to hear about it. I'm off to work the query again. Good night!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Paying for Help

Part of my entrance back into the writing world was my declaration that I was going to bite the bullet and do whatever it takes to be successful as a writer. So, I hired someone to help with not only my query but my manuscript, Keridwen, as a whole. I received the first set of notes on my query and I have to say, I'm thrilled. The comments were professional, straightforward, and honest. I need that. I haven't sent my manuscript, yet, but I'm ready for some serious feedback. I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous, but this is so needed. 

I'm convinced that I'm just too close to Keridwen. I've edited, reworked, done all of it. It's been read by dozens of people. I've taken every word of critique to heart and have seriously tried. This is what led me to a professional.

All that being said, I'm really excited about it. Looking back at my posts from two and three years ago, there was a recurring theme. I needed someone's help, but my pride stopped me every time. I know I can't be the only writer who has been down this road. That doesn't make it ok, though, and my foolish arrogance turned ignorance is most likely the reason my writing has been halted for so long. It's quite a humbling experience.

Humble Pie has been digested and now I am writing again. I've made changes to my query, knowing it will need more. I'm ready to do it again and again until it's perfect (by a professional's standard) and then do the same with my book. 

This is the year of Jamie, after all. (I should probably explain that later). Only good things can happen from here on out.

Good night!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Feeling Punny :)

My children both bought fish last week after a year of begging and pleading. Though we already own two dogs, two cats, and have been through guinea pigs, ferrets, and more, they broke us. My daughter wanted a Betta, so she got one. His name is Albert. That's a good name, right? Then she thought Albert was lonely, so today we got her Cami (named after my husband's grandmother). They're beautiful fish. I just hope I don't end up with a tank of babies.

My son, on the other hand, is a "writer" like me. He likes playing with the English language, which is pretty awesome for a 9 year old. Anyway, he wanted to standard goldfish. They were .29 each, so I wasn't sure how long they'd last. Their names were Gillbert and Finsley. Like the fish puns? I know I did. Well, Gillbert was the first to go. He lasted one day before sinking to the bottom of the tank and staying there. This was the first pet of my son's to die, so we had a funeral over the toilet. Everyone said something sweet, and my son mourned the loss of his friend. Later that day, we went back to the pet store and bought a much more substantial fish - an Oranda Goldfish. This fish was $5.00. He better live. Initially, my son wanted to name him Gillbert 2, but then we got a little more creative. Now his name is Gillmore. Get it? LOL! More gills. He cracks me up. Gillmore is doing very well. Yesterday, though, Finsley went "belly up". My son woke me up this morning to tell me. I got up, got the net, scooped Finsley out, and again, we had a funeral over the toilet. My husband, son and I all said something sweet. My daughter said, "maybe the tank is cursed." She's 11, going on 20. Anyway, we went to the store and bought another Oranda. This one's name is, are you ready for it, Finagain. Cracking me up! Both Orandas are doing great. We hope these will last a while.

The lesson I learned from this is that being a reader rubbed off on my daughter. She reads a book a week. Being a writer rubbed off on my son. He likes to make stories regularly. Both traits are fantastic and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It makes me smile to see my kids embracing the English language.

That's it for now.

Have a punny day! :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Determined

So, I was talking with a writer friend and asked her if I was crazy. Her response was don't confuse determined for crazy. That got me thinking. I am determined.

When the year began, I declared that for the first time in 37 years, I was going to have a year for me. Now, don't get me wrong. I am still providing for my kids and husband, and being an active role in their lives, but for the first time, I'm really doing some things for me. In January, I quit smoking - cold turkey. I woke up on January 6th and decided it was time. Instead of going downstairs for my morning cigarette, I took a shower and got ready for work. I was done with smoking. I haven't smoked since. I'm incredibly proud of myself. In March, I walked into a Medifast clinic and signed an 18 month contract to lose weight. The goal is 50 pounds. As of today, I have lost 26 pounds. I don't cheat on my diet (other than the occasional cocktail) and I lose weight every week. Again, I'm really proud of myself.

Now, I looking at my writing. I am no longer looking at self-publishing. I am determined to do what needs to be done to find an agent. If that means taking writing classes to get better, joining writers groups, and just writing all the time, then that's what I'm going to do. As I said, I am determined. I want it. I want it like I want a cigarette or a piece of cake. But unlike smoking and eating, I'm not going to quit/give up. I'm determined to work my ass off. I know that it doesn't stop at just getting an agent, too. I know there are drafts, and drafts, and more drafts. There are submissions, editing, marketing, and more. I get it. There's more work than I can imagine, but I'm ready. I'm ready to work hard because I will do what needs to be done.

So that's it. The year of Jamie is now. I know now, it's not crazy. It's determination.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Letting Go

There are so many things in life that we have absolutely no control over. As much as I want to be able to control 100% of everything I do, it is truly impossible, and that has taken me a long time to figure out.

In California, we are suffering a horrible drought. With minimal snow pack during this past winter, our lakes are drying up. The problem is there is nothing any of us can do to make it rain enough to fill them up. It's out of our control.

LAKE FOLSOM, CA

In my life, I try to control so much around me...my kids, my pets, my husband, my job etc. Much to my dismay, that doesn't work either. 

As a writer, I almost have total control over what I write. I know that that may sound strange, but just like with nature and my life, sometimes, I just have to let go and allow the story to write itself. When I start writing something (even a blog post), I have it all planned out in my head, but then something happens. The words go in a different direction, and for control freaks like me, this can be terrifying. It makes me want to scream, cry, laugh, sigh, and everything else in between.


Once I calm myself down and finish whatever it is I was doing when the crazy happened, I can see that everything ultimately works out in the end. And most of the time, it resulted in something way better than I could have expected. That happens with my life as well. After years of attempting to learn, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes you have to let go. Let go of all the fears, anxiety, stress, and all the rest and just let life happen. Attempting to control the universe will only lead to one thing, and that is misery and in my case misery does not love company. 

Now I'm off to write. I'm going to rewrite a WIP that I initially wrote in third person, and switch to first. It's a little scary, but I'm going to let go and see where it takes me. Off to write....

Crazy Talk


I have to admit that I love this saying! It's so amazingly true. As a teacher, I like to take characteristics of my students, mash them together, and make new people. It's always fun when you're creating a nice person, but it's SO much more fun when creating a crazy. Crazy characters keep me on the edge of my seat. I think it's because I can always relate on some level. I remember when I was writing Love and Texts I harnessed my inner high school girl and actually turned my girl into a bit of a stalker. Haven't we all done a little stalking at one point or another? When I was in high school, 20 years ago, we didn't have technology, so we did the more obvious things. Driving by their house hoping he might be getting the mail or something. Calling and hanging up when he answered the phone, just to hear his voice. Walking a different path to class just to see him in the halls. There were so many ways. I know. I know. I sound a little coo coo, but it is the sad truth. 

Today, I hear about girls cyber stalking. Going on FaceBook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter, and every other social media app and reading everything he writes, looking at every picture he's posted, and any other insight into his life. I can honestly say that I was married long before any of this came about, but I have witnessed it from babysitters, parents, friends, and so many others. It's crazy how easy it has become.

All of this being said, when I read, I want to believe the crazy I'm reading. At the same time, I want to be shocked by the behavior. Once I am over the shock, I remind myself that it's a fictional character and we are all safe in the real world. I react the same with movies (think boiling bunnies). These characters stay with us forever, and that's what makes them the best. 

But I have to ask myself, where do the authors get their ideas? Sure we know of the harmless crazy, but the boiling bunny crazy had to come from somewhere. I love being inspired by my surroundings, but to get that resonating craze, I always have to embellish. Until now. For the first time in my life, I am actually getting to watch as an innocent bystander a crazy adult stalking another adult. Without telling too much, just think of this...every time you think you're alone, she shows up; you're working out at the gym, she's there in the corner watching; you're hiding in your locked office, she uses her own key and lets herself in to see if you're there. This is the stuff that is motivating me to write a complete crazy story! I had NO IDEA this stuff ACTUALLY goes on. Well, now I know, and now I have new material. 

I guess that's what writers have to do sometimes. We have to sit back, keep our eyes and ears open, and observe. The stories are literally writing themselves. 



I Am a Writer


Robert de Niro said it right when he said, “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled, crippled by procrastination, and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” I could not relate any more than I do every day of my life. 

I started writing as a small child when I would staple index cards together, draw pictures, and tell a story. That was fun, and I think I still have one somewhere. In high school, my sophomore English teacher assigned a short story to us and gave us two weeks to write it. I wrote it that night, and it was seven pages, singled spaced. I have that somewhere as well. Then college happened. After switching majors from history to English, I discovered that you can major in Creative Writing! WHAT?! Why didn't they tell me this in high school? Probably because it's next to impossible to graduate from college and make good money by writing short stories. The good news is that I love English, so I became a teacher. It really was my calling.

I didn't write after that for about two years. Then the stories started brewing and I knew I had to do something about it. My husband and I bought laptops and thought we were cool, sitting in the bookstore typing. This was 2000. It really wasn't that common. Every "book" I started, I stopped about 15-20 pages in. I couldn't finish. Hell, I couldn't even really begin. Then I did it. in 2003 I finished my first full length novel. I queried via snail mail, but it didn't go anywhere. Instead of getting an agent, I was told that maybe I should write young adult. CRAZY TALK! So, I sat down and wrote a young adult short story. I sent it out and it got published. OK. I guess I can do this. I ended up throwing that first novel away.

Since then, I've written four full length novels, and have two started. I love that feeling of finishing the first draft. What a rush! How many people, really, can say they've written a novel? OK, I know that in the writing community there are a lot, but in the rest of the world, we are pretty darn special. Anyway, after not finding an agent for the first three, I put them on amazon.com. That's been quite the experience. I haven't given up on the agent situation, but I want to focus on new stuff now. 

That leads me to this. I'm a writer. As many times as I swear it off, I can't stop. I can't stop typing the words in my head. I can't stop thinking of stories to tell. I can't stop hoping for JK Rowling style success. I want more. So I write. 

This summer, I plan to write. I am rewriting my NANO into 1st person POV. I'm writing the sequel to Keridwen, which is 1/3 done. Then I'm going to finish my middle grades novel that I started three years ago. This is the goal. This is the plan. I am a writer. Are you?