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?

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.

* 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.

* 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 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.

* 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'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.

* 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 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 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.