Monday, March 29, 2010

Brick Walls

I guess I have hit a brick wall of sorts. I have totally stalled out on the opening of my book. I am on like draft 47 of "The First Five." The first five pages are sheer torture and they are getting the best of me. On top of that, I am really looking at restructuring some of the plot points that come later in the book, and fleshing out the characters, and changing the ending, blah . . . blah . . . blah . . .

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.

*sigh*

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

10 Things from Today

I spent the day with many, many high school students as they competed in academic competitions and I thought I would jot down some of my observations . . .

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

Giveaway on Suzie Townsend's blog

Suzie Townsend is having a contest on her blog. She is giving away a copy of Hourglass by Claudia Gray. Stop by and leave a comment to enter. If you mention that I referred you I get a bonus entry, so don't be shy--go leave our names over there!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just a little map to find my way back

So tired today. The first day back to school after Spring Break is very similar to a bad hangover.

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

New Moon on a Snowy Night



12:34 am on Saturday, March 20, 2010. A copy for me and a copy for my sister. And it is snowing outside. It's crazy, I know, but a little fun, too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For the kiddos

The kitchen "re-do" is still in full force although I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kids are loving this project, because we are eating out a lot, they get to eat on tv trays, and the cookies are within easy reach because the cabinet doors are gone. On our way to get lunch today, Little Miss A was demanding her favorite song, so I dug out my ipod and let it roar--"I've Got a Feeling" by The Black-Eyed Peas. This is not my favorite song, and it got me thinking about the things we do for our kids. So here is a list of some things that I do because I love my kids.

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

WOW!!

I posted a few days ago about a contest that Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins were having on their blog--Shooting Stars.

Well, I got a message tonight that I should check back because they drew the winners.

OMG.

I won.

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 . . .

Just taking a break . . .


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

Corey Haim on the Brain

When I was younger, my mom didn't allow us to hang posters on our wall. I know it is a rite of passage to do that, but I totally understood where she was coming from because our old house had this intricate wooden panelling that wouldn't hold a thumbtack--it was nearly impossible to get a tack into the panelling. (Sorry, Mom, I did try a few times. . .) As a compromise, she allowed us to hang some stuff on our closet door. My sisters had lots of pictures they put up, and I chose one. It was a picture of Corey Haim that I got out of one of those "Teen Beat" kind of magazines. I chose it because I loved him, and it was similar to this:

Picture From TeenIdols4You.com<br />Click To Visit

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

Ten YA Books

Over on the Verla Kay Blueboards (which is a great place for aspiring writers, by the way), they were discussing the top ten books that every young adult author should read, and it got me thinking about my list. I don't know about calling it a "must read" list, but I do have ten books that I feel were influential for me. They influenced me in different ways. Some sparked an urge to read more by that author, some made me run to my computer and type out a chapter, others transported me back to being a teen and things were ok, and some just left me speechless.

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

It is snowing AGAIN!

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

LOVE a good contest!

My friend Larissa mentioned a very cool contest on her blog, so I jumped over and signed up as well. It sounds like a great opportunity and a fun way to catch some new ideas (or even a new book!)

Stop by the Shooting Stars Blog for more info!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nice Window View

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

YA Lit is Cool

When I do tell people that I write Young Adult literature, I usually get a few questions/comments.

1. Why?
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

"Save the Cat!"

Since I am editing, I thought of this advice I read about creating a moment in the beginning of your book where your readers can identify with and begin to like your characters.

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Get+Agents+To+Like+Your+Characters+And+Keep+Reading.aspx

And, it is fun to say "Save the Cat!"

Editing

I am currently editing my first novel. It is not easy. It is much easier to throw some words together and type them into a computer and daydream about characters and look up small towns in Kansas for settings . . .

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.

Monday, March 1, 2010

THE Snow Day

This was the view from my classroom window on January 28th, 2010. We got slammed with about two feet of snow, most of which had already fallen before they let us go home from school.

Welcome!

Welcome to my window on the world. I decided to call my blog "Aimee's Window" because it seems like that is how I see the world--through windows of houses, cars, school buildings. But that doesn't mean that I miss much. I tend to be a great observer, which is probably why I felt compelled to start writing things down. Thanks for stopping by. I do hope you will consider following me, and I promise to be more interesting than this.