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...