Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Several years ago I did a unit of Literature Circles with a group of students. The process of Lit Circles has students choose novels and the students who read the same novel work their way through the book together. The few years that I have done this, I usually choose a book and read with a group as well.
One year, I chose to read the novel Speak with a group. That year the group happened to be all girls--there were three of them, and I made member number four.
I remember talking about how sassy Melinda was, how we loved how she nicknamed her teachers, and that we ached for her lonely situation. One of the girls in the group was very artistic and made wonderful art pieces to go along with the book.
I got to "the scene" before the girls did, so I knew what was coming, but I was unprepared for their reaction. They had read that part on their own, and then we were to have a discussion. I remember that day as the girls sat kind of quietly for a while, we didn't really know what to say. Then one of girls looked up at the rest of us and there were tears streaming down her face. We all froze; we all knew what she was trying to say. One of the other girls reached over and grabbed her hand. I knew if she wanted to talk, she would, and I did the only thing I could think of--I read the next part to them. I wanted desperately to show them that Melinda was okay, that she was able to overcome what happened to her. I remember looking up to see those hands clasped together as I read to them. It still chokes me up to this day. A few days later, the girl came up to my desk during class, her copy of Speak in her hands, and asked to go see the counselor. She seemed like a weight had been removed from her shoulders. She never told us her story, she didn't need to, Melinda told it for us.
The power of this novel speaks volumes. Students and teens must have a chance to read this book. Taking this book away from students or calling it "soft porn" is the same ignorance that took Melinda's voice away. We must continue letting this story get to students and the world.
I had the good fortune of meeting Laurie Halse Anderson a few years ago. I wanted to tell her this story of my student, but just got choked up instead. That's the power of this book. It speaks for us--for all of us.
For more information about Laurie Halse Anderson or the article that is misleading people about her book, please visit her blog and please SPEAK up for her book.
Monday, September 6, 2010
**Random Thought: I love the movie trailer where Betty White says, "I'm also on the Twitter." Adding the "the" just cracks me up.
So, I am asking for Twitter Tutorials. Can anyone help me out?
What does the # mean?
How do I find people to follow?
How do you make heads or tails of your homepage with all those random quotes?
How do you find stuff about writing?
I may be better off just reading Jane Friedman's Best Tweets for Writers once a week . . .
Sunday, August 29, 2010
We went to our first game Friday. The weather was perfect. The kiddos dressed in the school colors, Little Miss A even wore her tiny cheerleading uniform for her special half-time performance with the other 40-50 little girls from the summer camp. As I kneeled on the track snapping countless photos of my little girl dancing on that field, I was transported. Who wouldn't be? I love the lights shining down in a stadium, I love the cheering crowds, and I love hope that comes when those uniforms come out. I actually missed the first two touchdowns because I was just taking it all in.
I have been doing this all my life--going to football games. I can think of so many memories that started or ended at a football game.
And I know again why I write Young Adult books. Because for me, that the THE TIME. There were so many beginnings and endings, so many football games, so many memories that come out of those years, so many possibilities. It's worth writing down.
I can't say it all myself, but this video helps. Enjoy!
Then I found a new site that is saving so much time and is literally saving my writing. Dropbox is awesome. It offers an easy way to backup files, sync files, and share files. And I love that I can save things on my laptop and still be able to get to them on other computers--like my reliable, tech supported school computer! Best part--it's free.
No more emailing files. No more worries. My new best friend.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Let's see if I can be productive again today.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I know you have been sitting idle for quite a while, and I understand that you may be feeling lost and alone. I apologize for not getting over here to post more things. I could go on and on with excuses about writers block, or messy houses, or dirty laundry. I could blame your neglect on my kids wanting meals or my dogs needing water, but I won't. I take full responsibility for your neglect. What can I do to make it right?
Okay, okay. I will try to think of more things to write, more information to share, and more pictures to post. I can't promise that you will never be neglected again, but I will do my best to pay more attention to your needs. At least until I get into another book.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The thing is--the idea has become a nag. Nag, nag, nag. It's like when your ears get stopped up after flying and you can't really think of much else but relieving that tension. So, here I go.
To get started, I know I want to use a three-act structure, similar to a screenplay. I headed out on the trusty ol' internet, and found a great source from the master himself--Syd Field. I have read The Foundations of Screenwriting and studied the makings of a screenplay. Many people recommend using this structure for novels, and since I write books for teens, and teens watch lots of movies, I think this is the best route to go.
On Syd Field's website, he explains the Three-Act Paradigm (in a great slideshow nonetheless), and even offers some exercises to help a writer work with the paradigm. It is a great resource and inspiration.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I met Amy Kathleen Ryan at the Rocky Mountain SCBWI confernce last year. She is smart, witty, and engaging. I don't know this Sparks guys she speaks of (disclaimer: yes, I do, but still think she is way better!), but I never met him and didn't laugh at any of his videos--so she gets to be on my blog, not him.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I got to thinking that the weekends typically signal high-gear for my writing. There is too much with all the work, kids, and television during the week for me to do much with my writing. But there is something about my favorite purple coffee mug and a Saturday morning that just gets all the gears turning in my head.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
1. My first 40 pages are now in the hands of Suzie Townsend. I am anxiously awaiting her advice. I rewrote the beginning before sending it to her, and now it feels like I tried a new recipe with company on the way. I hope it doesn't flop.
2. I was notified that I am a finalist in the Panhandle Professional Writer's Frontiers in Writing Contest. Yay!
3. But, I may not get to attend the award lunch because I am taking my son to the STAR Center and a developmental pediatrician this summer to get to the bottom of his developmental issues. That doesn't exactly leave us any $$$$ for things like conferences, but what's a few dollars when it could change our lives!
4. School's out! It couldn't have come a moment too soon. We will just have to chalk up (no pun intended) the 2009-2010 school year as one of the most challenging yet.
5. We got a pool. My daughter is ecstastic. Someone should buy stock in sunscreen right now.
It's looking to be a summer to remember!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
The two books, When It Happens and Two-Way Street both have two points of view--alternating chapters with the girl and the boy. I have always been a little skeptical of multiple points of view--it can feel like head-hopping, but it worked well in both of these books. One of the strongest elements that contributed to the clarity of the narrator were that the chapter headings made it clear who it was that was talking.
These two books got me thinking that I needed to get to know my characters better by writing as if I were them. I don't think the multiple point of views will work for this WIP, but I am off to write some chapters from Daniel's point of view as a writing exercise. My editing has reached a crossroads where I really have to deepen my book and up the stakes--and who better to tell me what to do than the characters I created.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
But it is working today, so I wanted to link to a great post over at the Writer's Digest Blog about the best writing advice on the internet. I love a good piece of advice!
Some of the articles have helped me with a couple of breakthroughs this week. Hopefully I can make a little progress on things today.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
April Fool's + High School = Torture
As a teacher you check a few dates every year because they bring the freak out in high school kids. Most days they can be a little strange anyway, but days like Homecoming, Halloween, Valentine's Day, and April Fool's make the strangeness fester and explode like a bad zit (or a bad metaphor, lol!).
So it is April Fool's and I am at school and I am bracing for the torture, when our lovely athletic trainer comes wandering in.
Mrs. B: Hello, lovely athletic trainer!
Miss Lovely: Mrs. B, I need ALL of your students ALL day to come to the gym and take the Presidential Fitness test.
Mrs. B: What? You want to take ALL my students and make them run and do push ups?
Miss Lovely: Yes.
Mrs. B: Is this an April Fool's joke?
Miss Lovely: Nope. I will take them to the gym and make them run.
It was about this time that I heard the angels singing. So here I sit, nice and peaceful on an April Fool's Day. I have seen a few pranks here and there, but they mainly consisted of boys pointing another boy's shirt and then poking him in the nose.
I hope your April Fool's is peaceful as well!!
Monday, March 29, 2010
So, the struggle continues. I have opened the documents the past several nights, and all I do is stare at them, go read an article, stare at the pages some more, read a few pages from a book, stare at the computer screen some more. I have one idea, and one idea only to get over this block, this brick wall.
Start another book.
I keep coming back to this idea, but I don't know if it is a way to work out with some planning/plotting/character practice or if it is just one more excuse to get away from the pages that aren't changing . . .
We shall see!
Friday, March 26, 2010
1. 99.8% of the students had cell phones
2. 99.6% of them had an ipod/mp3/music listening device (some of them use phones for this as well.)
3. Girls like boys who wear sweaters (according to several of the girls)
4. Students are interested in Kindles, but haven't had a chance to play. When I let them play and try, they asked to borrow it.
5. Just what all do they have in those gigantic bags?
6. They still say "Dude"--I think I heard more girls than boys use this.
7. Students like to win--even if it is in a classroom taking a test or performing poetry. They want to win. Bad.
8. Students don't like to lose. I saw tears, pouting, sulking, hugging, desperation, and dignity in spite of the loss.
9. I saw lots of high school coffee drinkers (I didn't have any "cofee-drinker friends in high school), but they don't eat breakfast.
10. I heard some girls singing Cyndi Lauper. I couldn't resist telling them about going to buy my first cassette tape ever--it was Cyndi Lauper.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
In a weary moment today, I was surfing through some advice and found some great revision tips from Laurie Halse Anderson (who is in my top 10 books . . .). I loved Revision Tip #3 using the big paper and color coded emotions. Very cool.
I didn't want to forget because, *yawn*, I gotta get some sleep.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Listen to "I've Got a Feeling" over, and over, and over, and over . . .
Eat at McDonald's
Buy vehicles with DVD players
Cook/Bake healthy meals, and then make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Provide ketchup with every meal
Read the same book over and over and over (this one is not bad at all . . .)
Sit through episodes of Spongebob and iCarly
Spend hours looking for a lego man that may or may not have been dropped in the backyard
Write the Toy Story 3 release date on the calendar
Visit public restrooms
Just a little thinking out loud. Spongebob is almost over and the lego man still hasn't been found, so I had better go!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Well, I got a message tonight that I should check back because they drew the winners.
Suzie Townsend from Fine Print Literary Management will be reading and critiquing the first 40 pages of my book.
A real agent reading my book.
I screamed a little.
What a good day! I'll be updating about my journey. I can't wait to see what advice she will have. I have some work to do . . .
We are smack dab in the middle of a kitchen "re-do". I would love to say renovation, but I think you have to actually tear things out for it to be renovation. We are really just doing some camoflauging with paint. Either way it is hard work--so I have been taking little breaks all weekend by reading lots of articles! I know, not the best use of my time, but still informative. I wanted to link to a couple of good articles I read, so that I can find my way back to them.
Here are some things I found helpful this weekend--maybe someone else can use them too.
Overwriting I knew there was a word for this ailment! This article has some great info.
Bad Advice I also had wondered about this as well. And I see this so much from students and other writers. It is like some like to "shock" people into their story, but we need to just START the story!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
My teenage self cried a little when the news of Corey Haim's death came in this week and it got my thinking about what life was like in the days of Corey Haim posters on my wall. I remember thinking about what I would say to him if I met him, I envisioned myself opposite to him in movies--y'know, normal teenage girl stuff. (At least I hope that is normal!) And I got to thinking about my book, because well, I am always thinking about my book, and I thought about falling in love with people we have never met. It was like those daydreams allowed me to experience "practice" feelings before they really happened. I think that is what a lot of young adult books do for teens now. They give them a chance to have "safe" vicarious feelings without the risk of real broken hearts or even real rejection.
I am still glad I got to live in a world that had a Corey Haim.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
In no particular order, I am listing them below.
1) Forever by Judy Blume
2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3) Looking for Alaska by John Green
4) The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
5) The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
6) Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan
7) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
8) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
9) The New Girls by Beth Gutcheon
10)Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman (I know this isn't considered YA, but still influential to my writing.)
This will change soon; it is ever evolving. Maybe I should go read some of them now.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I spend a lot of time looking out of my classroom window. Probably as much time as my students do. Kind of like a prisoner. (I want to be kidding about this . . . lol!)
So, imagine my surprise today when I looked out and saw more snow! Here I am working on getting plans ready for Spring Break, yes SPRING Break, and I see more snow.
I miss the sun . . .
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Stop by the Shooting Stars Blog for more info!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We are spending the weekend at my parent's house, who have this great porch that looks out onto their yard. It is a little rainy and foggy today, but still a good day to sit on the porch and work.
Trying to work on the porch also comes with a little extra help . . .
Saturday, March 6, 2010
2. Like Stephenie Meyer?
3. I have an idea for a story, do you want to hear it?
So, the decision to write in the young adult genre was not necessarily a conscious decision on my part. It was just the voice that came out when I started putting some words on paper. And they were words on paper--I wrote the first 20,000 words of my book on several legal pads, and yes, I counted.
I get a little fired up when I read about other people being passionate about YA like Maggie Stiefvater did on her blog. She wrote the book Shiver, which I really like and highly recommend, and I am an even bigger fan after reading her defense of YA. I hope to be one of those randomly shelved, possible classics someday as well.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
And, it is fun to say "Save the Cat!"
Anyway, I have taken several approaches and read several books on the subject, but I have two things that are probably the most helpful.
1. A Plan
That was the first obstacle I faced when I decided to go back and work on this book. I didn't know where to start, so I turned to the internet for advice and found this Editing Recipe. This made sense to me, so I went with it. So far, it seems to be working pretty well.
2. A Critique Group
I happened to find someone on the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's Discussion Board (henceforth known as SCBWI. Catchy, I know!) who was starting a new online group and I was able to join. I had heard people talk about crit groups, and I always pictured intellectual individuals in very cool glasses, sitting in coffee shops pouring over piles of papers. Very glamorous and writery . . . but the reality is--crit groups are work! And the most helpful thing I have found in this whole "writing process." My group is online and we send our submissions back and forth over email. And while they may all wear very cool glasses (I have never seen them face to face), the reality of this crit group is better than my fantasy crit group because of one thing--they are helping make my book better.
Off to edit some more . . . it is my turn to submit.