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 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... 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 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 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.


I waited another week and sent another brief email.


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.


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...