Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions = Bad...Goals = Good

Ahhhhhh 2008. Quite a year, quite a year. Memories, family, laughter, friends...

Oh, what a bunch of bull-doodie.

2008 started out with such high hopes. But by January 21st it sucked, big time. Read my very first blog post and you'll see why.

That post sums up my 2008 perfectly - Good to Bad to Good/Hopeful again. No need to re-write it all out here.

Blogging was new to me back in July 08 and I've since discovered what a cathartic medium it is. Thanks, Blogging.

Resolutions. Well, the word resolution sounds too daunting, too much pressure. I read a comment on someone's blog yesterday, and the girl said she liked the word 'goals' better, and I agree.

2009 Goals: get an agent, get a publishing deal, see first novel in actual print - in actual book store (I know from reading Aprilynne Pike's blog - that part may take me into 2010 but I can wait.)

Goooooo. Goals.

Monday, December 29, 2008

WIP

Been busy working on my new work in progress - another YA suspense novel. Since 11:00 a.m. yesterday I've written 34 new pages with 7, 615 words. It's coming along. Up to page 84 so far.

I really like the two main characters a lot. Two eighth grade boys. I'm putting them through the wringer though.

Can't wait to see where the story ends up...

Back to writing. I'm out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mall = Nutzo

Why? Why did I wait to take my kids to Santa? Let me tell you, it was beyond crazy. The normally ten minute drive to the mall took us FORTY minutes. I should have taken that as a tap on the shoulder from God himself telling me to turn around. But noooooo, I forged forward, Christmas music playing while my kids got into a box of chocolates from one of my students.

We did score a rock-star parking space so my hopes continued to rise. Maybe the line for Santa would be short. Maybe I was the only slacker parent who left Santa till the last minute.

Maybe Not.

The line for Santa was two hours long. Yep, you read correctly. Two, I-think-I-wanna-gouge-my-own-eyes-out, hours long.

We stood there for all of about three minutes when I had a parental moment of genius brainstorm.

I got out of line and asked the friendly elf at the counter if the big guy would be on tomorrow.

She said, "Ten till five."

I said, "Sweet."

I then convinced my seven year old to step out of the line and we drove home. The elven year old was 200% okay with this scenario - he found out the awful truth last year, so he was just coming for the photo op anyway.

Wish me luck for tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Come On, Play Along

This came to me on my drive home. Okay, picture this:

It's 1993. You are going on a trip alone and for some crazy reason you decide to pack your stuff in a fireproof, water proof backpack. In a visionary moment you think to place your two all-time favorite cd's in the backpack along with your Discman and five packs of batteries. You place said backpack safely under the seat in front of you. Here comes the scary part...

Plane crashes. You end up on a deserted island. With your backpack. What luck right?

Here comes the thinking, interactive part...

What two cd's would YOU have packed for your time alone on the deserted island? Think about this for a few moments, I can wait. Let's say you'll be there for 6 months. Nothing but you, the ocean, the island and your music. Choose wisely my friends - 6 months is a long, long time.

My two:
#1 In Rainbows by Radiohead (I know it wasn't released till January of 08, but I stick my tongue out at you. This is my game.)

#2 Listen Without Prejudice by George Michael (*Note, this does NOT qualify as cheese, trust me on that.)

Come on, play along.

Oh, and, if you follow my blog, if you keep up with my thoughts...the journey of my writing...my life, I thank you. And I'd like you to comment. I am seriously lacking in the comment department. I get all of these hits and no comments (ignore pleading, BPV and Carrie Harris and Prince Balthazar).

Have fun...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Paragraphs, Queries & A Kid

Yeah, so I didn't place as a finalist in the First Paragraph contest. He ended up getting 1,000 entries!!! I didn't even really think the paragraphs chosen were that intriguing, but what do I know.

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Over Christmas break I have big, big plans. I want to:

1. nearly finish my new book about the two 8th grade boys who stumble into a world of insanity. Right now I'm on pg. 50 and the story is itching to get out of me.

2. query the snail mail agents. I've exhausted the email query folks. Still have about 20 unanswered email queries out there - including original dream agent and Mr. Steinberg.

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Thursday, I'm sitting at my desk, checking email and organizing for the next day of school when in walks a boy I had last year. This boy had a mountain of personal and social problems last year - scary, sad problems.

If you've followed my blog since post-one, you know of my wicked problems: pregnancy, loss and stay at home from teaching (book 1 came out of that mess).

Anyway, when I started teaching again, fresh from my 4 month short-term disability leave, this boy was a complete mess. The guidance counselor cornered me my first day back and filled me in. Whoa/Wow problems. I noticed his forlorn demeanor immediately - no smiling, black eyeliner, different clothes. Different kid than before I left.

When I have a student like that I usually ask them if they'd like to start a Dialogue Journal with me. I tell them it is the perfect place to get stuff out of their head and a chance for us to 'talk' without having face to face talks - which can be hard for adolescents. I always tell the kid that if they write inappropriate stuff or stuff that makes me worried for them, I'm sharing it with the guidance counselor. I also let the parents know of our journaling and invite them to read the journal with their child. All in the open.

He says he wants to journal with me. His very first letter to me is so filled with pain and inappropriateness that I have a meeting with him to remind him who he's writing to...his teacher. The journal ends up not working. He keeps writing to me with so much angst and inappropriateness that I tell him we have to stop. He says he understands. His mom gets him into counseling.

I have idea #2. I choose two kids to read my first novel, for feedback. I choose him and a girl. The girl finishes the book in one night. He gets to about page 100 after weeks and weeks. The spiral bound copy shows serious wear and tear. The cover falls off. The spiral binding starts to give. I get it back from him and he shrugs his shoulders like he doesn't really care. Can't look me in the eye.

"Whatever," he says.

And that was that. School ended and I didn't see him all summer. I'm serving what we teachers like to call living hell, Bus Duty, in late September and viola, there he is. Taller, thinner, older. He makes a b-line to me and without one single word, plants an enormous hug on me, like a tight hug you'd give your mom after not seeing her for a few years.

I pull back and say, "Wow! Did you have a good summer?"

He's already walking away and he shakes his head yes. His face has an enormous smile plastered across it.

Jump ahead to Thursday, December 11th. Haven't seen the kid since September and he shows up as I'm sitting at my desk. He's got that enormous smile again. He walks straight to my desk and places a pile of typed pages in front of me.

I ask, "What's this?"

"My book," he says.

"YOUR BOOK?!"

"Uh-huh. My book. It's only the first four chapters, but I want you to read it."

"Oh _______, I can't believe you are writing a book!! I would be honored to read it!"

Sheepishly he adds, "Ummm, do you remember last year...when you asked me to read your book...and I kept not reading it?"

"Yeah, I do."

"Well, ummmm, you inspired me to, ummmm, write this book, my book, and, well, I'm sorry I never finished your book. Do you think you could bring it back in and I can re-read it?"

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That, my friends, is why I teach. I love my job.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nathan Bransford's First Paragraph Contest

Thanks to Jill Wheeler, I entered Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest. Tons of entries but what the heck - you never know...

My first paragraph from The End of Normal - my YA suspense novel (this is for you BPV)

Theodora sat in the principal’s office, again. Across from her sat Mr. Silver, in his dress shirt and tie and his perfectly combed gray hair.

“Why did you do it?” Mr. Silver asked in a somewhat defeated tone. He seemed tired. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and middle finger and took a deep breath in. Theodora sat in silence staring at her band-aid covered fingertips and wished today wasn’t the day she chose to stop her bad habit. The words, “great timing” kept rolling around in her head.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Things I Love: My Sisters

I feel like I haven't blogged in so long. Teaching really does suck the life out of me - in a good way. I do love my job.

I also love my three younger sisters. I figured I'd let you in on three cool broads.
Meghan is two years younger than me. We shared a bedroom until I was 17 years old. Bunk beds and all. I was top bunk and she bottom and we had this long mirror that we'd talk through after lights were out. Our topics generally ranged from boys to boys. We actually created this secret collection of "Kathleen + _______ "and "Meghan + _______" hearts scrawled on the underside of my top bunk. We'd lay shoulder to shoulder in her bunk and change the hearts weekly to match our fickle crushes. She kept that mattress for years. When I was 17 and she was 15 she let me cut off half her head of hair...she actually trusted me to do this, which is, quite frankly, the coolest thing ever. I mean, that's a serious level of trust isn't it?

That's Lil' Meg on the left and my spectacularly beautiful mother in the middle...and the other one, the one with the squirrel tail covering half of her face, well, that would be me. Yep. Meg's hair isn't pushed over her shoulder. Nope. It's not pinned back on one side. Nope. It is gone. She let me cut it off. We were into being 100% different. No Izod for us. Looking back, there is no one else on this planet I would have rather been a 'punker' with than my sister Meghan.




Onto Nikole...

Nikole was born cool - four years after me. I remember watching her with her friends when she was in 6th grade and thinking...holy crap...I was never that cool when I was 12. I was too busy struggling to get my hair to stay in the Princess Leia buns. She was cool because she had confidence and swagger - still does. I turned this one closet in my bedroom into a public library, complete with check out cards and due dates. Nikole would check out books from my library and return them late - and I charged A FINE - and she paid it. I love that she paid it. I love that she looked up to me enough not to question the fine. I mean, most kids would be like, "Bite me, it's my book anyway!" But not Niki. She'd paid her fines.

When I was 15, I had the pleasure of being the head coach for the the Saint Lawrence's JV Cheerleading team. My sister Nikole was on my team for two years. For the annual Turkey Bowl I choreographed this dang-good half time show, to the tune of Prince's 1999 (didn't 1999 seem like an eternity away in 1982?). I wish video cameras were around back then. Nikole blew my mind. First off, the girl can dance. I'm talking like J-Lo good. You should've seen her...we're gonna party like it's 1999!!

This is the year I coached her. She's the one right in front of me. And oh yea, I'm the one with the 80's mullet. Sweet heaven above my hair sucked when I was younger.

Lastly...Christina

Christina is eight years younger than me and I seriously thought she was my own personal babydoll. I used to push her around Acme when I was in 8th grade and pretend she was my child. I really thought people would think she was my kid. How whacked is that? I remember when she was 2 I'd say to my mom, "I can't wait to see what she looks like when she's 5." And then when she was 10 I'd say I couldn't wait to see what she was going to look like as a teenagers. And so on and so on. She turned out fabulous.

My mom, Christina, my then fiance/now husband and I all moved to Florida when Christina was 15. I remember dropping her off at New Smyrna Beach High School on her first day of school - hair teased, jeans baggy (in honor of it being 1991 and all) and lip gloss as glossy as it could get and she turned to me and said, "Kate, I'm so nervous."

And I said, "Chrissy, you can do this. Just be yourself. You can do this." She did just fine - still keeps in touch with the friend she made down there.

She's the peanut up front. And yes, I'm the one with the semi-afro on the back. Nice. Real nice.


My sisters are my three best friends. The kind of friends that get together, a lot, and dance in my dining room and hang out long after the Thanksgiving turkey has been devoured, just to party on. I swear, we danced in my dining room this past Thanksgiving. Table pushed out of the way, lights turned down, music pounding and there we were, me, Meghan and Nikole and my husband Todd...all dancing.

God I love my sisters.

*Christina lives in Australia at the moment. I miss her terribly...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. I hope you all enjoy the day with your families!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Date and Some Ear Candy

My mom and her husband took the boys to the movies and had a sleepover last night so Todd and I had a night out. Alleluia. My mom rocks.

We went to dinner...alone...and talked. Wow was it wow-tastical. We clinked our martini glasses and had a bonafide date, old school style, like when we were just two younger married people, sans kids.

After dinner we went to this new place in West Chester called The Note. It's a live music venue. The band was really talented but not my cup of tea. They played Phish and The Dead - I've never liked those bands - not cool enough or funky enough for me. I'm not dissing them, just not for me.

On the way home we rocked the following songs. Loud. Just like I like it. My skin was jumping with the bass.

Below are the few nuggets of complete ear joy:

Universal Mind Control By: Common
* the link will take you to the video. You're welcome. Bold, I know, getting the thanks before you even listen, but the song is that good.

The Master Has Come Back By: Damian Marley
* it is a You Tube video for Adidas but it has 25 seconds of the song. I tried to find a better link but gave up. You'll still hear the funk in those 25 seconds, trust me.

Welcome to Jamrock By: Damian Marley
* the link will take you to the video, the very cool video.

Have a happy Sunday morn.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bring on the Cheese. Go On, Bring It.

I think I'd like to officially make Friday's my THINGS I LOVE post. Exciting. Right now, I'd like to wax poetic about cranking a good song while driving in my car...one of my most favorite things to do. It ranks fairly high for me as a thing I love.

I'm one of those annoying drivers that likes to crank it up to ear bleed level...but I don't dance. Too self conscious. Now don't get me wrong. I can dance. Like really, really dance. I swear it when I tell you that my college girlfriends and I used to dance at The Rat - the best bar on West Chester University's campus - we seriously drew a crowd. I'm not braggin. Well, actually I guess I am but holy smokes did we have fun.

Check 'em out...this was taken a few months ago at one of our Girl's Weekends. Not bad for a bunch of 40 year olds, huh?

Those were the days. Those were the days.

I know you are simply dying to know what music I blast in my '04 Chrysler Pacifica (it is NOT a mini-van, at least I don't think so).

I have a confession to make here. I love cheesy pop music. It all started with WHAM back in senior year of high school - 1985.

I couldn't get enough of the neon coiffed duo and was madly in love with Andrew - the non George Michael dude. I'm certain I owned cut off gloves and neon green clothing of some sort and I knew that WHAM dance by heart. Don't even try to act like you don't know what I'm talking about. You know.

I would whip that move out at the Jamison Skate Rink during the Saturday night dances there, with half of my head shaved off and plastic dinosaur earrings. What can I say - I wanted attention. I was a good kid though - the worst I did was sneak out of the house with my dad's brown, cotton, paisley robe in my purse because he forbade me from wearing it to the dance as a jacket...and I wore it anyway. Oooooh did I get in trouble for that one. He was waiting for me when I got home from the dance - AT THE FRONT DOOR. I almost peed my pants walking up my front walkway.

Back to my affinity for cheesy pop music. I'm talkin' boy bands, The Britney herself, heck I've even listened to Aaron Carter - WITH my then 5 year old. Hand to heart.

I've been known to rock N'Sync, hard. Back Street Boys. New Kids on the Block (both old and new), Britney Spears, pre hooker/psycho head-shaving days - yet I'm diggin on Womanizer, a lot. Christina Aguilara - even when she was the nasty XTina.

LOVE, love, love Justin Timberlake. But to me, he is far beyond cheesy pop music. The guy is seriously talented. I was 'hips against the stage' front row at the 9:30 Club in DC a few years ago with my girlfriend Maria (she is one of those college girlfriends that helped draw a crowd - the girl can dance! *she is 2nd from the right in the photo above) Anyway, back to the best night of my life - well I guess the second or third or fourth night. The night I got engaged, the night I got married and the birth of each of my boys should probably take precedence to J.T. - reluctantly.

Hips to stage. J.T.'s feet were about 2 inches from my hands. We make eye contact. He smiles down at me. I smile up at him while a girl of 18 or 19 wails into my ear, "YOU ARE SO LUCKYYYYYYYYY! AHHHHH!" I politely mouth what any 36 year old mother of two would mouth, "I Love You." He smiles again.

And then, I do the most daring thing I've ever done in my whole entire life - even more daring than sporting my dad's robe at that dance. I take my two, 36 year old hands and rub his calves. Like 4 times. Two times up. Two times down. I get another smile too.

Yes, my husband knows the whole story. Yes, he thinks I'm crazy. Yes, I re-visit that moment with my friend Maria and we smile and shake our heads at how much stinkin' fun that was. Yes, it helped cement my deep and true and absolute love of pop music.

Long live the cheese.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First, Second, Third

First, I can not wait until the SCBWI Winter Conference. It can't get here soon enough.

Second, I'm at a query stand still. A frozen no man's land of nothing. No rejections, no requests, a whole lotta nothin'.

Thirdly, If you've read my blog since the beginning you know I'm a 6th grade Language Arts teacher. We recently had the Scholastic Book Fair in our LMC and I have the wonderful pleasure of taking all three of my blocks up there to shop and buy new books.

I wanted to share that I found what I think may be
THE COOLEST BOOK COVER I'VE EVER SEEN. Check it out...



The book is called Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer I have no idea if the book is good or not, but based on the awesomely
cool cover I talked four boys into buying it that day, and they're all reading it right now. Whoever finishes it first is going to lend it to me and I'll let you know if the story is as cool as the cover.


WHEN my book gets published, I hope to have a cover as cool as Ms. Brewer's.

Like that? When my book gets published.


I like to think positively. I'm a glass half full kind of gal. The eternal wide-eyed optimist. The dreamer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Idea I Had

I figure there is only so much I can whine about my writing career or lack thereof before I lose what little group of fellow bloggies I have. I had an interesting idea. I thought I could use my Love and Hate lists as writing fodder. I'd be welcoming you into the deep recesses of my mind...you'd be peeling back the layers of me. Why am I suddenly getting visions of Dr. Evil's hairless cat? What is the matter with me?

Today's topic, ENTITLEMENT. It is listed under my Things I Hate column. Lemme tell you why.

Entitlement, or in layman's terms, pompus ass'ness, has the evil tendency to make other people feel less than, or embarrassed, or put on the defensive, or not-worthy. All bad in my eyes. Here's what I want to know. What makes one person better than another? What makes one person feel they are entitled to rip another person down? What makes one person feel so bloated with themselves that they think they have the right to be awful to another person?

Race? Gender? Societal Status?
Age? Intelligence? Breeding Rights?
What You Own? What You Drive? What You Eat?
What You Drink? What You Wear? What You Talk On?
What You Sleep On? What You Read? Who You Know?

I mean honestly, aren't we all people? Aren't we supposed to treat all people we come in contact with with dignity and respect? Shouldn't we forever try to lift up those around us? Wouldn't it be cool to shine light on other people's successes instead of finding fault with stuff?

Totally Random Side Note:
Give The Underdog by Spoon a listen. Toe tappin' goodness. Perfect for a Friday night of fun and frolic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Little MORE Excitement

Got a request for a FULL MANUSCRIPT today from Peter Steinberg at the Steinberg Agency!

That makes me happy. Like perma-smile happy. We'll see. It only takes one agent to like it, at least that's what I keep repeating to myself.

I am so blessed to have people in my personal life that I love and respect rooting for me. Even my bloggie friends are wishing me good stuff - heck, and I don't even truly 'know' you guys - how cool is that? I take every comment and every encouraging push forward and I store it in my Down and Out Box.

Then, when I really need it, I go back and re-read, re-visit, re-member the goodies and they help to sprinkle out the raging fire of doubt within. Ohhh can it blaze.

One query at a time.

*Totally Random Side Note: since I'm talking happy, I defy you to not shake yo'boo-tay to Estelle's song, Wait a Minute. Go on, click on her name and give that song a listen. Go on, shoo. Just be sure you are in a private place - it would be sort of embarassing if your boss or co-worker saw you shakin' it like you mean it. You can thank me later. Go. I want a full report on your experience.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Little Excitement


OH WOW. Look what I just signed up for. I am so excited. I'll get to meet with editors from very prominent publishing houses in small groups of 20. We'll critique 500 word chunks of my novel in three different sessions. How cool is that?

I'll also be able to hear, what I'm sure will be, inspiring presentations.
I need me some inspiration and direction right about now.

Look out NYC, I'm comin'...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Big Fat No

So, it's a big fat no from the agent who requested a partial. She wished me luck in my search for an agent.

Sent out a few more email queries.

I inch forward one email at a time...one email at a time.

Still no final word from original dream agent. I'm leaning towards a no with each passing day.

One email at a time...one email at a time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud to be an American

I believe politics are deeply personal and I am most definitely not one to preach or berate. With that said, I still feel compelled to write out a few of my feelings. My blog is titled, 'Some Things I Think' - right?

Those close to me know that I have been a staunch Obama supporter long before he decided to run for president. His thinking excites me. His views and beliefs align with my own.

As I watched them announce that Barack Obama was our 44th president of the United States of America my face crumpled into my hands and I cried.

Then, my fists pounded in the air, and shouts of joy erupted from my mouth.

HE DID IT! HE REALLY DID IT!

I watched McCain's poignant speech and felt he spoke from the heart - he made me proud. Then came President Elect Obama's speech and my tears came on strong. Here's why...

As a nation we broke racial walls down - ignorance and stupidity imploded with three little words, 'Yes We Can'

As a nation we're alive to see a black man voted in as our president when a mere 40 years ago we had separate water fountains, schools and restaurants - hatred and evil thrived - opportunities simply didn't exist for black Americans.

How far we've come.

What a day. What a country.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Asking For Acceptance

"I'm just a girl...standing in front of a boy...asking him to love her," Anna said.

That's one of my favorite movie lines from Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

At this very moment in my life I'd like to change the line to:

"I'm just a writer...sending out a query letter...asking for you to love my book," Kate said.

Oh just cut the crap. The agent querying process rots. I've already lost all hope and I've only just begun (I feel another overlydramatosis attack coming on). My stats are frighteningly dismal. 15 to 1 rejections to requests. Crap average, huh? I still have another 15 unanswered email queries out there dangling out there in the wicked abyss.

Dream Agent (not sure what to call her anymore - she's slipped down from 'dream' status) still has my full manuscript and has given me no definitive answer. And an agent from Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency has a partial. No word on that either.

By the way, I LOVE querytracker.net. so much. It helps me keep track of who I queried, when I queried them and what their answer was. Cool stuff, and I like cool stuff.

I just want it all to happen so very badly. I do.

Tom Petty says,
Well I wont back down, no I wont back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I wont back down

And I don't even like Tom Petty.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Communication is the KEY to Life, I Swear

I have been forming this opinion now for the past few years and it is just starting to harden into a firm belief with a nice hard shell. The opinion is this:

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY TO HAPPINESS...THE KEY TO LIFE.

Let me back up my thinking here because that is a mighty bold statement, right? You see, the word effective is crucial here. I did not say brutally honest. I did not say flowery. I did not say succinct. I did not say complimentary. I did not say brutal.

I said EFFECTIVE and that ain't easy. Oh no. Effective is tricky business.

By effective I mean the following:

~ Think about what you are trying to say. Ask yourself, "Self, what exactly am I trying to communicate?" Now hold onto your mouse here. Here's the mind blower...SAY IT.

~ Think about what you are trying to say and think about how it will affect the people you are saying it to. Will it rip someone's heart out? Then don't say it, dummy. For example, when your friend asks you if she looks fat in those jeans, after she's dieted for two weeks, giving up cake at lunch, and eating rabbit food - well, just tell her she looks great and to keep up all of her hard work. There is a gentle way to say most things. There are definite exceptions to this guideline. Like, when the brutal truth will help the person in the end. But, again, there is a way to lay your bomb. A way to soften the blow of honesty. You just have to think about it.

~ Think about what you are trying to say and be sure it is necessary. Mindless babble is beyond annoying. Most people I know don't have enough time in the day to get the stuff done that needs to be done and they don't have time to waste on mindless babble. Like stupid stuff that no one cares about. You know what I mean. You probably have a 'mindless babble' person in your life wasting your time as I type. Don't BE the mindless babble person. Really. Just don't. Life it too damn short for that junk - time is precious - time is precious. And that goes for dumb emails too (not funny emails - we all need to laugh coffee out of our noses at least once a week). Dumb emails count as mindless babble in my book. The truth hurts people.

~ Think about what you are trying to say and make sure you have been clear. Do the people you are trying to communicate with understand what you are trying to say? Are you sure about that? You really shouldn't assume that people understand you. There are a gazillion chances that they don't. How should you find out if they get you? Oh, I don't know, how about asking them? I know. Revolutionary. But seriously, effective communicators know for a fact that the human beings they are communicating with understand them. They check for clarification and then adjust their communicative ways...A LOT and OFTEN.

~ Think about what you are trying to say and say it with confidence. Speak clearly. Type clearly. Look people in the eye. Don't be rushed when you communicate. Mean what you say. And more importantly, say what you mean. Are you making sense? Be sure you know. If not, it smacks of mindless babble. We know how I feel about mindless babble and it isn't pretty.

Some things to consider:
- Would there be less relationship breakups if both partners communicated effectively? I think yes. Sorry if you are a divorce attorney. I mean no harm.
- Would there be less grounded and punished children if parents communicated effectively with their children? Parents really should be effectively teaching their children how to communicate. Ooooh. That's a deep one.
- Would there be less hostility among races, religions, sexes if we effectively communicated? Feel the love. Feel the love.
- Would war actually be 'something that ONLY happens in novels' if the humans in charge effectively communicated? My head is shaking up and down in a yes formation.

In closing, I advise spitting, and soon. I gave ya'll a lot to chew on (said while snapping fingers and tilting head).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Waiting & A Random Thought

Not much to tell here other than waiting. If you've followed this blog for a while then you know how I feel about waiting. I like it as much as working out.

I have roughly 20 new queries out there right now and only one request for a partial manuscript has come out of it so far. But, I'm waiting. Still no word from dream agent. I'm pretty sure she's not going to be my dream agent anymore. Safe to say I've mentally abandonded her and that really bums me out. Boy did I have some serious hopes and dreams pinned to her.

Life moves on and so must I.

This is a totally random side note:

One of my all time favorite, never could get sick of it, want to hear it nearly every day, still gives me chills, still causes a slight increase in my heart region, song...

is...

Lover You Should've Come Over by Jeff Buckley

If you know it, then you know why. If you don't go on and give it a listen. It's a goodie.

Got any songs you just listen to and listen to and listen to and listen to?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Agent Queries Out. Must Purchase Adult Diapers...

Developments a'plenty.

As of Thursday, October 16th I had no word from dream agent. It had been many moons since I'd emailed my full manuscript to her. We exchanged a few emails over the months (mostly me trying my best not to be a total P.I.A.) but no word on where I stood. We all know I left her a voice mail two weeks ago. And still no word. All hope was lost.

I'm sorta being overly dramatic - I do suffer from Overlydramatosois. Luckily it's not contagious. But, sadly I know of no cure. I suffer alone.

Back to developments...Not all hope was lost, but a whole heck-of-a lot-of-hope was lost. I reached out to my mentor author buddy to get his opinion on a few things. I wanted to know if I should ask dream agent's permission to query other agents and he wholeheartedly said, YES!

I emailed dream agent at 4:20 yesterday and received a reply by 4:31.

Holy crap.

I did NOT want to open the email. What if she said - go ahead, dummy, query other agents? What if she said, I'm done with you, now leave me be?

She did say she was sorry it was taking her so long and that yes, I could go ahead and query other agents. She didn't give me a no though.

Holy bigger crap.

I emailed her back and told her that I secretly was hoping she was going to tell me, "NO! I do not want you to query other agents! I want your book!"

But, you know what else I did? I queried 8 new literary agents by 9:14 a.m. this morning. All email queries.

Holy elephant-sized crap! (wink and nod to my baby elephant from last post ;)

Ahhhhh...more waiting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Weight Lifted. Baby Elephants Are Heavy!

A few posts back I shared that I started a new book. The memoir of my sister's divorce through my eyes. A true story in every sense of the word - even though it is a mindblowing true story...true it is.


I got to page four and realized I couldn't write it. Trying to write that memoir was the equivalent of me dragging a baby elephant up a San Francisco hill, by hand, alone, in the dark, blindfolded, in the rain, with no shoes on...




Is that a mental picture, or what?


Anyway, it was HARD. But I promised my sister I would write her story. She's my little sister and I promised. I don't break promises (unless they involve me and exercise - then and only then are all bets off). I had a genuine dilemma on my already tired hands. Remember, I drug that stupid baby elephant up the stinkin' hill? Alone? In the dark? No shoes?


But guess what? Something hit me while I was wrtiting page 5 - like an elephant's trunk slapping me right across my face (it was propbably pretty ticked off about me schlepping it up the hill in the rain). I realized something. A big something. As big as an elephant something.


I could write her story but tell myself it was fiction. I could change all of the names of the people. I could semi-fabricate actual conversations and manipulate timing and write it as a 'fiction' book.


And I did.


I made it all the way to page 20 in less than two hours. It started pouring out of me. The weight lifted. The elephant left the room. The pressure of 'realness' was replaced with my creative thinking and desire to tell her story - from my point of view. Which was really my whole intention in the beginning. Before I lost my shoes, and the rain came, and that needy baby elephant knocked on my door.


I don't even live in San Francisco, which is weird.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mean People Suck, Except When They're Fake

I've come to the conclusion that miserable people are really difficult to like. You know the kind that nothing makes them happy, ever? Geesh that's hard to be around.

Its even harder to be around MEAN & miserable people. That is a deadly combination to me. I'm not kidding when I say mean people suck. Mean people really, really do suck. Pot-stirrers, nasty thinkers, back-stabbers, hateful, and vile phony-baloneys are the worst of the mean people.
When oh, say, you trust someone and they stab you in the back, that person sucks.

Well, mean, miserable people suck but...their actions and characteristics do make captivating characters, now don't they? We humans sure do love drama and tension in our novels & movies & gossip. Without the mean, jerky characters we'd be left with Barney and rainbows.

Ka-phooey.

Imagine a world that cruelly hawked Star Wars without Darth, or Harry without Voldemort, or Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle) without her idiot parents, or Jack & Rose without Cal, or Austin without Dr. Evil...

I don't want to live in that world. No way.

But, REAL mean people still totally and completely suck, rotten eggs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Comment...how to

Yesterday, I found out that I have some loyal readers who'd like to write comments on my blog, but alas they didn't know how.

Here's how to comment a'way:

Underneath each blog post you will find something that looks like this...
0 comments

or

6 comments

All you have to do is click on that link and a pop up box will do just that, pop up. And, well, you comment. You don't have to be a fellow blogger, you can comment as anonymous and then type your name in your comment. Or, you can be all incognito and not even type your name.

Me likey comments. A lot-tee.

It makes me feel like my red map dots actually have real, live human beings reading my posts.

I got a hit from India!!! India!!! How cool is that???

Monday, October 6, 2008

My NEW Topper & My NEW Book!!!

Topper first. Well, I have a creatively gifted sister who married a wonderfulific Australian guy and moved to Australia a few years ago. I'll confess, she is the owner of Uniquely Noted...that webpage I'm nudging you to visit to your right. See it?

Anyway. Like I said, she is gigantiliciously creative. I challenged/hired her last week to create a new blog topper for me and voila...look above.

Yep, that's my head sticking out. Is she too much? If you haven't checked out her website, it is really worth a visit. Her stuff if fantastical.

*it is fun to make up words, isn't it?*

Book second. I started writing my new book over the weekend. It's a memoir of my other super wonderful sister's divorce from her smacked-ass, pathetic excuse for a husband, ex-husband. The book is the story of her mind blowing divorce through my eyes.

And it is hard to write. Not the subject matter. While her story will indeed blow any reader's mind, that's not what is causing me pause. I'm having trouble writing it out...because I can't make it all up. This insanity is real.

I'm only on page 6 and it isn't flowing out of me like my other two fiction novels did. It is definitely going to take a lot longer to write. But, I'm not giving up. Oh no, this story is too compelling to abandon. It just may take me a year to get it out onto paper.
p.s. I do have one more sister, who will kill me if I don't somehow weave her into this post. So, she is a mom of 3 and new to blogging - but she's afraid of blogging (see my list of other blogs I visit, down below). Her computer is being uncooperative and naughty lately and I know that's the reason she hasn't posted in, oh, like 3 weeks. Let's egg her on kind people... Go Meghan! Go Meghan!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Message

Woooooow! I just left a message on dream agent's phone about five minutes ago. I'll nutshell it for you with my handy dandy talking points:

  • I'm touching base to do some peasant groveling.
  • I just need to know your decision...or at least where it may or may not be headed. I can take it either way.
  • I was so optimistic when we spoke in mid-July and you told me my book got 'rave reviews' from your readers and that there was 'a lot of interest' in representing me. I swear, it feels like I was dreaming that.
  • Ok, here comes more begging...I need a decision, I honestly can't wait anymore. I feel like the gerbil on the wheel these past months.
  • Please, please know that you are my #1 choice for representation, and I did my research.
  • Email is totally fine with me, I know you are busy. I'll take any news at all. Any direction it may be headed - even if you aren't able to give me a final decision...maybe just a word or two about the status.
  • Alright, begging is now over.
  • Take care and I hope you have a great weekend.

My hands are shaking.

I said above talking points with a peppy, non-whiny tone to my voice - professional would probably be a good word to describe it. I spoke my message with complete respect for dream agent - no cockiness at all.

Well, I hope I hear something, anything. I hope I didn't tick her off. I hope she doesn't chuck my manuscript in the trash heap. I hope she feels my pain and gives me a small nugget of her thinking. I hope - I hope - I hope...

I hope it all works out.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My OTHER New Blog

Since my writing career seems to be in a perpetual holding pattern hovering somewhere between, 'OH yeah, it is going to happen' and 'OH no, what was I even thinking when I said I wanted to be a writer?'...I need something new. Something exciting, fresh...

AHHH-HHHAAA... Pre-zenting... Introducing... Ladies & Gentlemen... Ta-Daaaaa...

I started a new blog on parenting! It's called The Parenting Super Store...and It's ALL Free. I have a whole bunch of ideas, opinions, stories to share, life-lessons and discussion opportunities.

If you have kids, check it out. Did I mention its free?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome to The Funny...Laughter Anyone???

I've now come up for air, crawled back up from my deepness and I'm ready for this helium-filled post.

Laughter anyone? Goofiness? Unabashed bust-a-gut-ness?

Ok, these will be my random musings. Hold on tight. Here we go.


My favorite jokes, ever:
(they're my favorite because I suck at remembering jokes, and they are the only two stinkin' jokes I can remember)

#1 How do you catch a polar bear?
Cut a hole in the ice and line it with green peas. When he goes to take a pea, kick him in the ice hole.


#2 What kind of bees carry milk?
Boo-bees

Is that a chuckle I hear? A light snicker? Good. Keep going...

My favorite funny kid moment:
My then, two year old son woke up from his nap, buck naked, and when I walked into his room he had his little pudgy hand held out. Sitting in his hand were small brown marbles and he said, "Here, Mom, hold my poop." I'm laughing right now as I type. And yes, it really was his poop. Ahhh, motherhood.

Come on, admit it, poop is funny. Even the word is funny. Go on, say it out loud. Do it. Come on, just say it. Poop.

My favorite, 'me being an idiot' moment:
I'm 19 and I'm with my cousin, Susan, and we decide to go to a party where we only know one guy. It's a small house party and we feel out of place immediately. We walk through the kitchen where some game is taking place at the kitchen table, slide open the sliding glass door and walk through into the porch where we sit for a few minutes feeling like outsiders.

We quickly make a decision to leave and jump up to walk out, via the route we just came in. I, being the goofy dumb ass that I am, go first and walk directly into the now-closed sliding glass door. I'm talking full body slam. I smacked my face hard enough to leave a perfect lipstick mark on the glass.

The kids on the other side of said sliding glass door, at that kitchen table, sat stunned for a split second and then literally fell out of their chairs laughing. Out of their chairs.

I rubbed my forehead, feeling the enormous lump forming and tried to laugh it off. Ha ha ha. That was so funny.

Yeah, it was funny. I'm laughing right now, remembering it, laughing hard. Funny.


Funniest piece of clothing, ever...forever deemed, The Christmas Sweater:


My mom, who seriously is a stunningly beautiful fashionista (I'm not being cheeky here, I mean it), gave my brother-in-law a sweater for Christmas.

The funniest, most hideously ugly, sweater ever.

At first we all thought it was a joke.



We snickered...choked on our Christmas cocoa...tear-wiping snickering.

She got sooooooo mad at us.




I decided to make it crystal clear just how fashion-wrong-o this sweater was and came downstairs in this getup...

She understood.

The sweater has taken on a life of its own. It has been photographed on nearly 100 people and has traveled the world...Australia, Scotland, Ireland. And it is so not done.


I hope you've enjoyed the funny. Laughing is my favorite thing to do, besides stepping on the scale and seeing a low number or eating a guilt-free, filled with goodness, ice cream sundae or, or, or...

Hope you have a happy, funny day. Feel free to share any funny you may have hidden away. I love a good laugh.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life's Messages. Be Ready, I'm Going Deep Here.

You know how life gives you messages all the time? Little gifts of understanding? I guess, by messages I could also say lessons.

Like when you lose a dear friend unexpectedly and suddenly, and once you muddle through the whys and the anger...well, there is usually a message tossed in that salad of sadness and pain.

Lessons/Messages
* live each day for that day
* laugh whenever possible
* tell the people you love that you love them...a lot

How 'bout this one, like when your dad dies at 51 just 6 months after your first son is born. You know, gut-wrenching pain followed up with some anger and some regret. Just, not regret on your part, nope, regret that your dad wasted a lot of the time he had with you, when he was alive. There's a message buried in that mess too.

Lessons/Messages
* time is precious so you better use it wisely
* be a freakin' good parent if you have kids
* don't waste precious time on regret or anger

Here's another one. When you meet a student that no one else likes, and let's be honest, you are having trouble liking this kid too. A wise young woman named, Margie, once said, "It's the kids that nobody likes that need us teachers the most. The popular kids don't need us...as much." Life is trying to tell you to remember why you're in that classroom, with those human beings. You are there to teach them and give them the confidence to learn.

Lessons/Messages
* never forget the importance of impact. How what you say may impact the other person
* respect must be earned
* empathy should be practiced many, many, many times a day by all human beings

And, lastly, you know when you send your query letter off to your number-one-agent-choice back in mid-April and not a word was heard till mid-July and then you wait some more, oh maybe till the end of August, only to hear that you have to wait some more and then be told last week that, well, you had to wait some more?

I suspect that life is smacking you between the eyes this time. I got the message last night, loud and clear. I was watching Anthony Bourdain's show called No Reservations and three of the people interviewed mentioned the value in waiting. One actually said, "When you wait for something it builds character. It makes the desired outcome that much sweeter."

Bourdain replied, "Yeah, it's not the destination...it's the journey." In my head, I addressed myself and added the word, 'stupid' to the end of his reply. Sometimes I do miss the messages along the way.

Lessons/Messages
* getting signed by an agent will happen when it happens
* focus on the good I already have in my life...without said agent
* WHEN book gets published the satisfaction will be that much greater than if it had all fallen into my lap

WOW, this is a long post. If you stuck with it to the end...thanks. Who know, maybe something in there spoke to you? That would be cool.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I've Been TAGGED and I think It's Cool and Fun

I have been TAGGED from my Blogger buddy Prince Balthazar. Unlike Prince, I don't have eight more Blogger friends to TAG but I will TAG my sister Meghan and talented writer Cynthia Leitich Smith and newly published author of the upcoming YA release Wings, Aprilynne Pike and that's all I've got.

I know my sister will be the only one to do it. Cynthia is a big time REAL writer and Aprilynne just got her first humongo book deal. Oh, and one more thing, they probably don't even know who the heck I am.

Come on, Meggie. You're all I've got. Consider yourself TAGGED woman.


1. What are your nicknames?

Katrina DeBriccasar from the hallowed halls of Sanderson Hall, West Chester University circa 1987, Skateorbate from my high school friend, Mike circa 1985. Katie-Kate from my sister Meg, my friend Maria and my cousins Susan & Lisa (not sure of its birth but it is still used this very year in which we are all living).


2. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD?

My dad brought home Michael Jackson and the making of Thriller to compliment our brand new fandangled VCR. My three younger sisters and I would watch it in my parent's air conditioned bedroom and watch/re-watch that video until we could recite it verbatim. Awwww, I'll come 100% clean...we we're learning those dance moves too. It was 1983!


3. What is your favorite scent?

Picture this...car filled with family and tons of vacation stuff. Father driving. We exit off the NJ Parkway and we're surrounded by perfectly dank smelling wetlands on either side of road. Windows roll down. Deep breaths in. Family of six collectively let out, "Ahhhh...the shore."


4. What one place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back to?

IRELAND. Hands down it is the most magical place on the planet. The people, the landscape, the pubs, the hospitality, the castles, the history. Perfection.


5. Do you trust easily?

I am a wide-eyed optimist and probably the most NON-cynical person alive. I trust openly...until you lie, then, well, I can smell you as the rat you are. Don't mess with Scorpios.


6. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think?

A perfect blend of both. I am not 100% spontaneous when it really matters. I like to use the squishy thing tucked behind my forehead quite frequently.


7. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days?

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Oh yeah, did I mention waiting for answer from dream agent.


8. Do you have a good body image?

Ha. That's hilarious. Wait...wait...wait, I have to catch my breath. You see the words, good and body image together just make me laugh. I've had two kids for god's sake. However, I still get looks while driving in my car.


9. What is your favorite fruit?

Oh, I don't know. Chocolate covered strawberries. Apples and peanut butter. I like a little bad with my good.


10. What websites do you visit daily?

My website for my classroom. Gotta keep those 6th grade parents informed. Also, obviously, this lovely website. My bank. Love my bank. Gotta know where the money's going. My Facebook page. It keeps me connected to my humongous family.


11. What have you been seriously addicted to lately?

WRITING. Seriously. My heart races when I know I have some time to put fingers to keys. I'm a weirdo.


12. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

Prince Balthazar seems witty and clever in his writing. Even though I don't truly know him, like in the normal human sense, he seems like he's probably a nice guy. I do hope his publishing dreams come true. Thanks for all of your nice comments cyber friend.


13. What's the last song that got stuck in your head?

Radiohead's entire CD In Rainbows. It quite possibly is the most perfect album ever created. And I mean it.


14. What's your favorite item of clothing?

Anything that makes me feel good about myself or garners compliments.


15. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy?

I want to meet the person who DOESN'T think they rule.


16. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?

Look around for someone who seems to have lost something and run it up to them. If no one is around I'd probably kiss it up to the money gods and do a little dance of happiness right then and there.

17. What items could you not go without during the day?

My hot husband, my wicked-amazing two sons, my super-fly laptop, my brilliant coffee girls, my students and my cell phone.


18. What should you be doing right now?

Getting off this dang computer. See, I told you I love my laptop.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And the Skies Opened...a Revising Miracle

I have some positive news to share regarding my revising stalemate!

And boy is it positive.

A few posts back I shared that my second novel was in a state of frozen frustration. I honestly didn't know how to move the book out of my second round of revisions. I had received a few comments saying the book didn't get good until page 110...a fate of certain death if you are writing for adolescents. If you can't hook 'em in the first 10 - 15 pages they just may put it down and do the other 50,000 things vying for their attention...in my humble opinion.

I do teach these fantastic creatures language arts, remember?

My manuscript finally got into the hands of two of my teaching colleagues. One read for character inconsistencies while the other read for plot stuff. They finished the book in a mere 4 days (YAY!!) and came back with AMAZING feedback. Amazing in that their feedback unlocked my mental stalemate. They gave me the feedback to get the first 110 pages out of that state it was in.

My one colleague, Heather, put it like this, "Right here is where I put the book down. You are trying to tell me too much information here. I'd like to have the main character explain this to me, briefly, instead of the narrator (which is me) tell me."

An enormous smile spread across my face and I started to jump up and down. (what can I say, I am easily excited) I replied back, "Heather! That's it! That's what I needed to hear. I know what to do now!"

My other colleague, Jennifer thought so deeply when she was reading that she found two major plot points that simply couldn't be...if the characters really are who I am making them out to be.

They kindly spent 30 minutes with me discussing their findings, their questions and their feedback. It was magical for me - magical AND miraculous. I swear it to be true.

I have a job to do. My heart races with excitement when I even think about going back in to my story. I'm talking Christmas-morning-as-a-kid excitement. That's how I know I want to do this writing thing forever.

p.s. no word yet from dream agent

Friday, September 12, 2008

Major Prize, Major Prize...and its not Frah-Jih-Lay

I won a major prize. Well, its major to me anyway. I visit Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog, Cynsations and I entered one of her ARC giveaways...and I WON!

It is The Devouring: Sorry Night by Simon Holt. It is a YA fantasy book and I can't wait to bring it in for my students and tell them the whole story. Me, reading Cynthia's blog, sending her my entry email and then winning...see, reading can get you places, right?

On a side note, my journey towards securing my dream agent crawled a few centimeters forward last night. I received an email saying that she is waiting on an interim report on my book...whatever that is, and, she would be getting in touch with me soon. She promised.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

News is news, even if it only moves my journey forward one centimeter at a time...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Brick Wall

If you've read any of my former posts you know that I've written 2 YA novels - unpublished for now. Well, I've reached a really great place with my first book. Tons and tons of people have read it and I've gotten tons and tons of amazing/positive feedback. I've taken it through 14 rounds of deep revisions. I really listened to my trusted group of readers. All good.

Over the summer I wrote the 2nd book of my planned 3 book series. The book flew out of me, just like book 1. All good.

Here comes the bad part... My first two readers of book 2 said, and I quote, "It didn't get good till page 110." Then, my third reader said she loved it, all the way through (small ray of sunshine there).

I did some serious revisions. Necessary revisions.

Onto draft 2. But...(more bad) my fourth reader echoed my first two, you know, it didn't get good till page 110.

After I picked up my crushed ego from the floor I set to task. I went back to my already seriously revised draft 2 and tried to remedy the, "It didn't get good till page 110" problem.

I honestly don't know what to do. I swear. I like what I have. The readers who said...oh, you know what they said, well, they admitted they were not fantasy readers. They actually hate fantasy/sci-fi. I wonder if that has anything to do with it???

Is there such a thing as a professional editor that would read my book and help me make it flawless & not put downable (like book 1)?

Does anyone have any advice? I am at a loss.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Under My Belt

Well, I have my first week of school under my belt. My legs are killing me from standing all day; I still have "summer legs". I seem to have an interesting crop of students this year and I'm looking forward to things kicking into high gear next week.

I always start out the year with a letter TO the students, from me, about my history as a writer. I take them through who impacted me positively and negatively, what I like to write about and how I like to share it. I also tell them a little bit about how I like to teach it.

Then comes my favorite part...I ask them to write a letter back to me, telling me their history as a writer.

Its amazing how many kids come to me HATING writing and reading. They have many, various reasons for not liking it, but overwhelmingly the vibe is a serious non-like of writing. Sad.

If you're reading my blog, chances are, you like writing as much as I do. I'm curious...

Why do you like writing? Dig deep people, dig deep.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Birth of a New Idea & a Hurricane

First let me say that my mind is officially blow by Hurricane Gustav's path. I literally can not believe a repeat scene is possible. After Katrina hit, a fellow teacher named Margie (one of my personal heros) organized a volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. My sister, Meghan and I joined Margie, another teacher and a secretary's husband right after Christmas 2005. We wielded chain saws (insane, I know) and cleared tree after tree...HUMONGOUS trees...from victim's yards.

Now, this was months after Katrina hit and Biloxi was 100% still in ruins. Really, the only thing that was cleared was the main ocean highway...that's it. There are still people living in trailers down there and it is 3 years later. Don't even get me started on the New Orleans debacle.

Lately, I've been formulating new ideas for future books...letting them stew in my mind a bit...some jumping out of the pot and onto paper...some not ready yet, needing to simmer some more. As I typed out one of my new ideas a brand new, chill inducing scenario emerged.

And it involved a hurricane.

God bless the Gulph Coast. My heart, my thoughts & my prayers are with everyone currently displaced and ultimately affected.

On a much different note, I'm curious, how do you get new ideas? It fascinates me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Opening Day and my Heavy Heart

I'm think I mentioned that I'm a 6th grade Language Arts teacher in my very first post (my personal favorite from my measly 11 posts). Today was my school district's opening day, and for the first time in my life I went with a heavy heart.

Let me briefly explain.

See, teaching defined me - ran through my veins. To say I loved my job would fall pathetically short. To say I loved going to work would be the statement under the understatement. You get the picture. Being a teacher is a gift, a joy, a pleasure, a hell of a lot of work, yet, it is as rewarding as being a parent. Yeah, it is that good.

So, why the heavy heart you ask? Well, if you read my previous blog posts, you already know... its the books I've written. I LOVED the experience of writing those novels even more than teaching.

Wait a second while I catch my own breath here. I shock myself. For the first time ever I found something I liked better than planning, researching, creating, collaborating, guiding, leading...something I liked better than teaching. Writing.

It's plain crazy talk. But, it's true. So. So. So. True.

I went to opening day with my heavy heart and it lightened when I saw my incredible colleagues...my dear friends and we giggled through the speeches and the talks. My heart lightened when I ran down to my classroom and read the enormous quote posters I hung last week to inspire great writing from my kids. My heart lightened when I went to my mailbox and saw my class lists...filled with real kids...with real expectations, and self-doubts, and room to grow.

If I ever get that ginormous publishing deal in the sky - the one that affords me the true luxury of being a full-time writer - well, maybe then I'll leave teaching. For now though, I have to make room in my heart for both teaching and writing because I have 82 students coming my way next Tuesday and they need my heart to be in it 100%.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Revising...and Cheese. Just go with it.

I'm in the thick of second round revisions for my second book. You know, when you get to the point when you think of nothing else...nothing but your book...your people...your plot...your scenes. The book tends to creep into your thoughts at unexpected moments, moments that don't particularly lend themselves to pondering or 'lost in thought'ness.

Like, for instance, when your mom calls at 3:42 yesterday afternoon and offers to take your two boys out to the movies and dinner that night, giving you and your loving husband an out-of-the-blue night out. During said night out at one of West Chester's most delicious restaurants - Teca, more specificially, right after the imported cheese plate is delivered by the really good looking waiter. My mouth explodes with the perfection of the Pecorino cheese, infused with bits of truffle while my head...well...my head...

...is thinking about my book. My daydream-eyes clue my husband in, in addition to the silence after he asks three times, "So what do you think of this cheese, honey?"

Silence and dreamy facial expression. Then, a little more silence.

My mind races with the book. You know what I mean. Don't even try to fake me out. I know. I know.

It is just so damn exciting, this writing business thing. I'm so new to it, the novel writing part anyway. I hope it always feels this good to write and to revise.

I also hope I get to eat that cheese again before I die. It was beyond delicious.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Done Book 2...Woo Hoo

I finished my first round of revision on my second book...and it feeeeellllsss so good. My second round of readers are primed and ready to get their hands on the copies - ready to get in there and give me feedback. They were instrumental while writing my first novel. Their feedback was so deep. Thank god they all agreed to do it again, with book 2.

My first round of readers, aka, my mother, my husband and my best teacher friend, already read my raw first draft, and eventually gave me very, very good reviews. I worked out the kinks with serious revisions and just sent the copy job to Staples...picking up my 3 bound copies tomorrow.

Exciting stuff.

Now all I need is for the agent to get back to me about book 1. For her to tell me she wants to represent me...be my agent. Get this whole thing going...moving along.

For the love of god.

p.s. the second book's title is:
The Origin of Normal
The Journey, The Darkness, The Fear & The King

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Good People Rock

Two videos that help reaffirm my belief that people have the potential to be good. Really, really good.

Dancing Matt

Free Hugs

My teaching colleague showed me the Free Hugs video this past school year and I loved it, then I forgot about it. Then, just today, I stumbled upon someone else's blog and she was writing about humanity...and there was a link to the video.

Oh...the potential. Good people rock.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Facebook +...

On Tuesday night my husband and I went to the Radiohead concert. We met up with my cousin Lisa and her husband. Before the show we got to talking about Facebook...how addicting it is. My cousin went on to explain the lure of the whole shibang. I tried to resist at first, even had some valid reasons why I couldn't...shouldn't have a Facebook account. But, alas, I caved to the temptation.

I just created my Facebook page yesterday and I already have 19 friends. I know, some people have hundreds of friends, thousands if you are, like, the most popular person. I've never been the most popular person. All the way back to elementary school, Saint Laurence, in Upper Darby, PA - class of '80.

28 years ago I didn't long to be in the popular group. I liked my friends, a lot. My crowd held the smartest guy in the whole 8th grade, the second smartest guy in the whole 8th grade, fellow Empire Strikes Back lovers, amazing writers (diary writing, of course), clever kids, funny kids, confident kids. A few things my crowd didn't have were drinking, drugs, cigarettes or sex. Nope, none of that.

Instead we had a Halloween party where we innocently played pass the orange. If you've never had the opportunity to play the epitome of adolescent innocence...let me explain. One places an orange underneath their tucked neck and attempts to pass said orange to the boy or girl of their dreams...with no hands. Oh, the thrill of skin touching skin which could easily be explained away as, "What? I had to get the orange to him, didn't I?"

Well, a few of my old 8th grade friends are part of my 19 Facebook friends. People I have never forgotten. How cool is that?

Thanks cousin Lisa.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Waiting Game

Back to the journey of my book. So far, nearly 100 people have read my first book, many of whom I don't know at all. The book has sort of taken on its own path as it get passed from reader to reader. It is pretty cool. I used every single word of feedback I got and went back, and went back, and went back to revise and ultimately edit.

By April I felt it was ready to start querying some agents. I did a lot of research with my writing bible: Writer's Market, and generated my top five agents - Writers House was my number one pick initially because of their Writer's Market entry. After further research I realized they currently represented some HUGE authors: James Howe, Stephenie Meyers, Christopher Paolini and Dav Pilkey - big names. They were absolutely my number one choice.

I mailed my initial query letter on April 4, 2008 and the waiting game began. By mid-May I received word they wanted me to mail them part 1 of my book (over 80 pages of the book). You'd have thought I won 100 million dollars when I opened that letter, what with all of my carrying on and jumping and screaming. What a great moment.

Then, more waiting. Tense waiting.

I waited the proper two months stated in their request letter and then I called. I had to know what they thought.

More waiting. All day waiting.

She called me at 6:01 p.m. and proceeded to tell me things that caused me to pace and smile. Her reader reports were in her hands and she said they loved what they read and she wanted me to email her the rest of the book. And she was going to read it. She said I got 'rave reviews' from the readers!!! She asked for a three weeks and told me to reach out to her a few times to spur her on.

I waited two weeks and then sent a short email, asking for feedback.

Nothing.

I waited another week and sent another brief email.

Nothing.

Then, last week she emailed me and said she was still eager to read my book and that she'd be in touch last week.

Nothing.

So, as I type this out, my heart is racing, my stomach is churning and my mind will NOT stop revving with anticipation.

The Waiting Game...

My manuscript is currently in the hands of an agent and has been for a few months.

Guess I'll just have to be patient...and wait.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What A Book...The Road

You know when you finish a book and it continues to orbit around you for a long, long time, like some fictional moon filled with angst, joy, passion or sorrow - whatever it was from the book that struck a personal chord with you?

I love when that happens.

At the bottom of my blog I 've been shelving all of the books I've read this summer and one refuses to leave my head...The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is the most beautifully written book I've ever had the pleasure to read. He is obviously a poet and in full command of the English language, including a slew of words I've never even heard of. But the book is beyond readable. Beyond fascinating. Beyond riveting. Beyond chilling.

Beyond heartbreaking.

If you haven't read it yet, you must. There is no other way to look at it. Get in your car, go to the book store or library and get it. Don't even dibble around with ordering it online, it would take too long to get into your hands. Yeah, it's that good.

You're welcome. No, seriously, you don't have to thank me that much. What are friends for?

All I ask in return is that you tell me how you feel after the last word crosses your eyes...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coldplay Interruption

I saw Coldplay last night and can't explain how magical the show was. It may have had something to do with how it all came to be. My cousin's husband had a very good connection with someone who owns superbox seats at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. He texted my husband at 11:30 on Thurday night, inviting us to the concert. Friday was filled with me in a language arts workshop at the school I teach at, my older son was in camp all day till 5:00 and we needed to find an overnight sitter for our boys.

Yay Mom!!! My mom was able to have a last minute sleep-over with them and we were offically going to see Coldplay...like VIP rockstars ourselves...private elevator up and the whole thing.

I've never seen a concert in a superbox and let me tell you - it is the way to go. The private bathroom is a definite plus...so are the sofas and granite topped bar. The view was incredible as well.

What a great interruption to my writing. I am on page 206 of book 2...

Coldplay really are an incredible band and their music sticks with me long after the songs end. They sang Politik - which is one of my favorite songs. Yay!

It was a ridiculously fun night.

Monday, July 21, 2008

And a new person emerges.

Well, blogging is a lot of fun. I'm kind of obsessed with it, I'll admit it. I check it like a maniac, oh, I don't know, maybe 20 times a day. Obsessed. The thought that someone would read what I'm writing is rather exciting - even if it's only my sisters, family and friends. So what, right? It's still exciting.

Alright, so I left off with me having the bizarro experience of writing that book. Let me try to explain what I mean by bizarro. I swear to you, once I got past the first page the book literally flew out of me. When I hit save on March 24th I was alread on page 151. I had never written 151 pages of anything, ever. Never ever. Right in the middle of writing my boys, Todd and I were flying down to see my in-laws in Florida, for Easter and I had a panic attack - how would I write?

Well, my husband - tech genius that he is - had me email my book to my yahoo email so I could open in on his laptop and use that to type and save - which is exactly what I did. No airport or flight delay could stop me. Oh no, no, no. I sat with his laptop on my lap and typed my little heart out.

I swear if someone took that laptop away or it broke or some monster decided to eat it off my lap, I'd have finished writing it by hand and if all of the paper and pens in the world were suddenly gone, I'd have gouged the story into blocks of wood or made my own stinkin' ink and paper. There was absolutely no way in hell I couldn't finish writing that book.

Crazy isn't it?

I know what you're thinking though...that's not so bizarre. Where's the bizarre part?

While I was vacationing with my gracious in-laws, who let me hole-up in their pool house for nearly 70% of the vacation, to finish writing, I began to feel different. Different sort of falls short but it is accurate. I felt physically different - my eyes actually saw things more clearly, literally - not that I had bad eyes or anything - I don't even wear contacts - BUT, my eyes saw colors brighter, I swear! I also had this insane sensation that everything that was happening, was supposed to be happening - like everything was aligned or something. I'm having trouble putting words to the feeling.

I swear to the heavens above I have never felt anything like that in my entire life. I know it was because I was using parts of my brain that had never had a reason to be used. I know it.

How's that for bizarre? Huh?

Friday, July 18, 2008

I did it...I wrote a novel

A few months ago I lived a different life... Let me paint the picture.

September 2, 2007 I unlocked the door to my 6th grade language arts classroom and stared at all of my hard work. My two boys and I had been in nearly ten days last summer just getting my room ready for my new team of kids - rearranging furniture, hanging new posters, creating new centers - everything to create a learning environment where 11 year old kids would feel comfortable sharing their very souls on paper - with each other - without judgement.

Tall order.

Turns out I got an excellent crop of human beings and the year progressed rather quickly. Each day I'd rise out of bed, so incredibly in love with my job. Teaching literally runs through my veins, fuels everything I do - how I think - how I live - who I am.

That was until March 17, 2007. To say the day was monumental wouldn't give it its proper credit by a country mile.

But I've jumped ahead too far. Let me back up a bit. There is a ton of life and heartache inbetween.

Ok, students learning, writing pieces on courage that would bring a tear to a linebacker's eye. Cut to the weekend of November 5th, my cousin Chris' wedding at the Finger Lakes, NY. What a cool place in the world. Great wedding, great best-man toast, great fun. And I got pregnant. And I turned 40 three days later.

Surprise.

I already have two incredible kids that I would seriously offer up for the 'best kids in the world' award. Let me know if that exists. However, by up until November 4th I'd already lost three pregnancies.

Took the test, had the ultrasounds, saw the specialists. All was a go - que the wicked nausea. Nausea so bad that it made the flu seem like you ate too much cake after dinner. Live my life on the sofa nausea...take a short-term-disability leave of absence from my classroom nausea to the tune of 3.5 months nausea - dropped 12 pounds in 5 weeks nausea - could only eat white rice and drink lemonade nausea. The suckiest of all nauseas.

I remember having an ultrasound the week before Christmas break and there was a strong heartbeat. The second day of vacation the nausea hit me like a swing to the head and progressively got worse. My first day back in my classroom I had to leave by 9:45 a.m. - couldn't stop gagging, which is not a good look for a teacher of adolescents, trust me. Tried a few more days without making it through and then got a doctor's note to stay out until the wickedness passed - or until the end of my 5th month. I schooled my substitute teacher and emailed her everything I could to make the transition smooth.

I was on the couch. I became rather caught up on the presidential primaries and MSNBC's Morning Joe was my new favorite show. My husband and boys picked up the rest of life in our house and handed me glasses of cold lemonade and rubbed my forehead while I rocked back and forth in nausea hell. The 13 week ultra sound was on a Friday and my husband was going to go into work late so he could come with me. I filled out the paperwork at the High Risk waiting room and kept asking my husband if he felt like everything was Ok - he kept reassuring me everything was fine...just fine.

Nothing was fine.

No heartbeat, tears, questions, fear, devastation, anger, depression, deep sadness, mourning and lots of support. I watched all three seasons of LOST over the course of five straight days. Each time the credits would roll the tears would come, like someone flipped the switch but then, with the genius of DVD I'd hit 'next' and the tears would stop. It really was magic. By the end of the 5th day I made it one whole hour without crying which was a personal record.

Then the email arrived that changed my life. It contained three little, simple, powerful, intense words...

WRITE YOUR BOOK

The email came from my good friend, the assistent superintendant of my school district. I'd told her at a dinner, before the pregnancy fiasco, that I had this idea for a book...just came to me one night. I sat up, grabbed one of the pieces of paper on my nightstand and scribbled the idea down in the dark. Just the basics - but boy were they CRAZY basics. Over Thanksgiving break I'd developed the story a bit more by brainstorming out some specifics and stream of consciousness thoughts/ideas. I'd filled 10 journal pages before I knew it. Then nothing.

I couldn't write a book.

Then the pregnancy and loss...then the free time with no nausea. I'd decided to just take a leave of absence from teaching and stick to the plan of coming back after Spring Break - mid March. The thought of facing all of those students, who'd I showed my first ultra sound pictures to, made me sick to my stomach.

Ok, so, I don't know about anybody out there but, who has the gift of four weeks of uninterrupted time dumped in their lap? No kids, no work, no pressure, no nothing. Except my raging self-doubt. I can't write a book. Not me. No way. Who was I kidding? I'd been trying to get my five children's picture books published since 1994 and I had a stack of 'No Thank-you's" to prove it. The thought of writing a novel freaked me out completely.

After I read that email with the three little words I sat down and wrote the first senetence of my book...

Theodora sat in the principal's office, again.

And then, two months, 14 drafts, 30 readers later I had my first young adult novel...

The End of Normal: The Dream, The Boxes, The Courage and The Book

I guess the reason I'm blogging all of this is to make one point: DO IT. WRITE YOUR BOOK. Do the thing you've been avoiding or dreaming about. Just go for it for god's sake. Why not? The darkest moments define who we are - will we succumb to the dark or rise up and reach the light?

If my book ever gets published I'm going to dedicate it to the child I lost because with his passing, he unlocked The Courage within me and allowed me to write this book.
He pushed me to do it. I know it.

Now go out there and do your thing.

Make it happen.

Isn't that exciting?