Wednesday, December 29, 2010

THE END OF A YEAR PART 2: Does your novel pass the checklist?

   An Illustration
"Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?" 

"To know what would have happened, child?" said Aslan. "No, Nobody is ever told that." 

"Oh dear," said Lucy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The END OF A YEAR- THE DEATH OF A NOVEL PART 1: Or Learning How to Listen

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...Image via Wikipedia
Since I started this blog around August 2010, I haven't posted much about the novel I am working on.  There's good reason for that... It's complicated.

"Oh, you mean there are fabulous plot twists, backstories that come back to haunt characters at the most inopportune moments, and stakes that soar into the stratosphere?" 

No. Not that kind of complicated.... Well, I mean sort of.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE Epic Contest of Epic! Giveaways, Swag, AND MORE!

Oh my gosh!!!!!   I am completely fangirling over the amazingly talented Beth Revis and her EPIC CONTEST OF EPIC!!!!!  Here are the facts:

1. Beth Revis is a 2011 debut author.  Her book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE promises nothing less than hours of AWESOMESAUCE reading pleasure.

2. She is having an EPIC CONTEST OF EPIC during the month of December featuring 100 PRIZES!!!

3. Go to her website to find out all the details!

4. In order to qualify for the "BIG HUGE AMAZING GRAND PRIZE" you have to fan the facebook page, blog about the book, or pre-order ACROSS THE UNIVERSE from any online book sellers, or your favorite indy book store.

5.  You should DO THIS NOW, because  this book is as good as the hype!  (I have it from very trusted sources).  Plus, Kiersten White, author of super spunky PARANORMALCY blurbed AtU, so you know... it's gonna be great.

6. The competitive side of me really doesn't want anyone else to enter this contest so I can win, but since it is the Season of Giving, I am being generous in telling you about this contest!

So, there you go! Have fun, and enjoy all the exclamation points I used in this post.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

FREE BOOKS?? Could it GET any more magical?

Bookstore cat at Ophelias BooksImage by brewbooks via Flickr
Hey guys, so check out my bud Caitlin Darrell over at her blog Caitlin Darrell: A (Sort-of) Life.  She is having a contest that ends NOVEMBER 30TH where the winners get vouchers for FREE BOOKS OF YOUR CHOICE from the Book Depository. All you have to do to enter is follow her blog, tweet about it, blog about it, or any combination therein.  It's awesome, as is she!  So what are you waiting for?
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2011 Debut Author Challenge

Want to get geared up for some AWESOME books dropping in 2011?  Then join me in The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge!   All you have to do is pick from her groovy list of books that are coming out in 2011, and commit to reading at least 12 in one year.  That's a book a month people. Easy!  Especially if you're like me and inhale books!

So, what's on my list?  Check it out!


Covers unavailable: 
1. Lisa and Laura Roecker: LIAR SOCIETY       
2. Myra McEntire: HOURGLASS

What's on your list?      

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

AUTHOR SKYPE SUCCESS: Or how Dianne Salerni rocked our socks

"In mid-nineteenth century America, mysterious knocking noises haunt Maggie and Kate Fox, two teenage girls who become famous for their apparent ability to communicate with the dead.
Do the sisters have a supernatural gift -- or is it a hoax?"

On Tuesday,  author Dianne Salerni, who wrote the CAPTIVATING novel WE HEAR THE DEAD, skyped with my high school creative writing classes.  It was a RESOUNDING SUCCESS!   Check out her blog about the experience here.

I met Dianne through a fabulous, free online writing conference this past August: WriteOnCon.  (I have blogged about it's awesomeness before).  This marks the first time that our school has ever skyped with an author- and now that we know how easy it is to set up, I can't wait to book more!

Dianne talked about how she got interested in the Fox sisters' story- how she researched, the primary sources she used while writing (Hooray Primary Sources!), and her journey through self publishing and then on to publishing with Sourcebooks.  She also tempted us with eerie facts about her newest manuscript CAGED GRAVES about... what else? Caged graves!!  Totally spooky right?

My students had wonderful questions for her ranging from how she stays focused while balancing a full time job/family life, to dealing with writer's block, to naming characters and finding a favorite writing spot.  Her best advice? "Never give up.  Never stop writing, and never throw anything away."  Well said Mrs. Salerni, well said.

So everyone- GO READ THIS BOOK NOW!  It is a riveting read about how two young girls inadvertently started the Spiritualism movement in America.  I didn't realize the historical scope of this novel until I came across social reformer Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and suffragette Amy Post, and New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, all people who interacted with the Fox sisters in real life! Of course, no story would be complete without a love interest.  Find out if the dashing Elisha Kane of Arctic Exploration fame gets the girl!  Salerni's storytelling doesn't disappoint.

ALSO: if you are a teacher, I HIGHLY recommend skyping with Dianne.  The students had a blast, and it was really very easy!  Email her, I know she'd love to hear from you!

*I had cool pictures, but then I realized that they were all of my students, and for privacy reasons I couldn't post them on my personal blog.  So- just imagine 2 classes of teenagers sitting in a media center- watching Dianne Salerni on the big screen projector- and using a Britney Spears microphone to ask her questions.

** yes, the students had a little too much fun trying to actually wear the microphone rather than just hold it while they were talking to her.  It was entertaining.
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I HAVE A PITCH- to be revised...

Yes, I know that I originally posted the pitch to my current work in progress, ELEMENTALS, here- but I am revising it.  I attended a webinar with the lovely agent Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency and she had quite a few FABULOUS comments about my pitch.

I promise that when I finish revising my pitch- I will repost the original, the one I sent to Kristen (including her comments) and the NEW pitch so everyone can hopefully learn as much from this experience as I did!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday with the YA Highway

The YA Highway is an awesome blog comprised of authors from all over the world.  Every week they host Road Trip Wednesday: asking a question for bloggers to respond to and link back to their blog.  This week's question is

If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

My answer: I pick TWO SWEEPING ERAS- 
Regency England and Victorian England, because I am obsessed with these time periods. (And here's where I go all nerd-girl on you). If I had a million dollars and didn't have to chase down old college transcripts, I would go to The University of Oxford and get my Masters in Victorian Literature. Just for the love of learning. 
a bit of light reading
Because I read books like this for fun. *side note: I actually almost did apply to Oxford a few years back, until I saw the OUT OF COUNTRY FEES! Yikes. I am still paying off my undergrad student loans- ten years after the fact!

Jane Austen- the woman, the legend
So if I had my magical time machine, first I'd go chill with this chick, my home girl Jane.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Gotta Feeling (Writers Mix Spoof)

This is a HILARIOUS video by writer Jen Hayley.  You can see more of her by visiting her website here.  Jen is a member of the vlogging group YA Rebels

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And the Award Goes To:

Answer: Share the Love
Question: What is?

A.  A bumper sticker adage plastered to the fender of a VW bus. 

B. Something your mother warned you about when she recalled those days of wanderlust and a man named Paul...

C. What led to the demise of Henry VIII

D. What I get to do as a recipient of the "ONE LOVELY BLOG" Award

*If you answered A-C, I applaud your imagination.  We should be friends.  Let's have tea shall we?

So, I get to pass on this award to FIFTEEN blogs that I have NEWLY discovered, that I think are lovely, (or as Eliza Doolittle says, loverly).  Again, a shout out to Virgin Sheets, the blog of Lisa M. Potts: she is the woman who granted me this fabulous award to begin with.  *bravo Lisa!*

And the award goes to: 
1. The English Teacher's Friend- the blog component of an INVALUABLE resource for teachers. You should check it out.  Oh, and did I mention Tamara is my crit partner? Yeah she's pretty much DA BOMB! 

The Founders of WriteOnCon: 
2. Literary Rambles- A forum for all things children's literature, hosted by Casey McCormick  (a plethora of information!) 

Monday, August 23, 2010

My first blog award, and an ANECDOTE!

A wonderful thank you goes out to the illustrious blogger Lisa M. Potts over at Virgin Sheets for giving me my very first BLOG AWARD!  How fabulous!  How tremendous!  *snacks on tea and crumpets, inspired by the lovely pictures on the "One Lovely Blog" award*

As a bonus, I get to pass this award on to 15 other blogs that I have recently discovered! (see below)

  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pay it forward to fifteen other blogs you have newly discovered.
  3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen. 
Now, as you all know, this is the beginning of school for me and I am a little swamped, so check back tomorrow for my list of blogs that I have deemed "LOVELY" enough to get this snazzy award. 

Before I go, I will leave you with an ANECDOTE OF AWESOME:
At the high school where I teach, our administration decided to have the second period class count as a sort of "homeroom" this year.  Since our mascot is the wolf, we are to call it our "Wolf Den" and our students in second period are our "Wolf Pups." We will go over things like dress code, code of conduct, business-y type things in second period.  I told my students that I was now their "Wolf Mom," and that this was a bit like Scouts, only... not. (Second period is one of my creative writing classes, I have to add). While I was explaining this, one student jumped up and said, "Can't we rename this? Like instead of the Wolf Den, can't we be the Wolf Assassins?"  Another student in the corner piped up, "Yeah, or just drop the wolf and be The Assassins, and you could be Mom Assassin!" 

And that is how I became the MOM ASSASSIN on my first day of school.  This is going to be a great year. I can feel it. 
Mom Assassin

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bring me your tired, your poor, your teachers...

Children and their teacher at school in Chelse...Image via Wikipedia
How many hours have YOU wasted trying to create the perfect lesson?  You know the drill.  The school board is breathing down your neck with new regulations and mandates.  Your lesson templates MUST match the brand new benchmarks that are only slightly different from last year, but are numbered as such that you cannot copy and paste them AT ALL.  The state achievement test scores have been raised, and now it seems that the fate of the WORLD AS WE KNOW IT rests on your ability to get your students to pass that test! 

With all the red tape, political agendas, and paper trail BUSY WORK, even an idealist like me can get sucked into the quagmire of Educational Cynicism.  But, I'm here to tell you folks, THERE IS HOPE.  THERE IS A SOLUTION.  (And I'm not even getting paid to say any of this).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Impromptu Puppy Photo Shoot during WriteOnCon: Oh the unbearable cuteness!

"What?  You still don't know about WriteOnCon?" 
If you have not stopped by and gleaned words of wisdom from the WriteOnCon virtuosos, then stop staring at my adorable puppy and click here now to get up to speed. 

Okay. Now that is taken care of, we can get down to business.  While I was reading all the awesome posts and watching the hilarious and highly informative vlogs available on the WriteOnCon website; my Japanese Chin, Dandi, decided to jump into my chair and look cute. Well, I couldn't resist.  I had to cover her up in sheets, and then when she actually started falling asleep... 
THE IMPROMPTU PUPPY PHOTO SHOOT happened.  Don't worry.  I went right back to participating in the live chats and such later.  

So, for your viewing pleasure- here are some pictures of The Writing Master- because she enjoys WriteOnCon so much! AND SO SHOULD YOU! 

my little yoda

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Awesomeness of WriteOnCon! A FREE online conference: ACT NOW!

logo copyright writeoncon 2010

It's FREE!

It's ONLINE, from the comfort of your OWN HOME! (read- you can wear your jammies)


1. Founded by these writerly ladies:  Jamie Harrington, Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker,  and Jennifer Stayrook

2. PARTICIPATING AGENTS/EDITORS:  Michelle Andelman, Regina Brooks, Catherine Drayton, Natalie M. Fischer, Mandy Hubbard,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Author Jodi Meadows: Six things Stargate:SG1 taught me about writing

Witty and TRUE!  Click on the link below to see Jodi Meadow's original post from her live journal.

info from:
 Meadows' THE NEWSOUL TRILOGY, beginning with ERIN INCARNATE, will be published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. ERIN ASUNDER and ERIN ETERNAL will follow.Read about the deal here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Authors, Authors Everywhere. . .

So, I'm freaking out just a little.  But in a good way.

First, let me say that I've only had the blog up and running for about five days, and already everything is starting to snowball.  Maybe it's because I am throwing myself out there and interacting on everyone else's fabulous blogs.  Maybe it's because I know that school is looming on the horizon, and I am desperately trying to squeeze in as much "me time" as I can before I start goose-stepping to the man.  (That was harsh, it was a bit harsh wasn't it? Sorry, I'm as bad on the kids when it comes to summer vacation).  

Anyways...  BIG NEWS!  

1. I have already lined up a speaker for TEACH IN this year for my classes.  The fabulous Tim Anderson of Bloody Disgusting fame and producer of the award winning horror short 2:22.  (And yes, I knew him when we were just super cool drama club kids in high school together.  Ahh memories)

2. THE illustrious Holly Black retweeted my White Cat book review and now all is right in the world.  *fangirl giggles*

3. CHECK OUT The Coldwater High eZine. It is a newsblog of the Hush Hush fansite  Sarah Rees Brennan (who wrote Demon's Lexicon- the book I am currently reading) is this week's featured author. They opened the interview for a Q&A panel, I hopped on the comment section, asked the good authoress some questions, AND SHE ANSWERED ME!!!!!  Long story short- she does SKYPE INTERVIEWS- so there's another author I'm going to try to line up for my creative writing classes this year.  It's a great interview; read all her answers, but my questions (which pertain to publishing and such) are all the way at the bottom of the post.  

Oh blogging world- now I know why people can get sucked into you.  You are so fun, so seductive.  You lure us in with your clicky links and scrolling widgets.  I can see now that I will definitely have to give myself "regular blogging hours" or I will never get my manuscript finished and ready for queries.  Which reminds me. . . I need to write a post about time management, and how my novel is going, that's on my list. . .  AAGGHHH! 

WHITE CAT by Holly Black: A Book Review

can't wait to get it signed by the author!
What happens when a New York Times Best Selling Author leaves behind the dangers of the Unseelie Court and instead turns to a life of crime? Another best seller is born. 

The first in Holly Black's latest Curse Worker trilogy, White Cat is not your average magician-with-wands-and-spells story.  But then again, Black is not your average  author.  

"Cassel comes from a family of curse workers- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals.  Many become mobsters and con artists.  But not Cassel.  He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider; the straight kid in a crooked family.  You just have to ignore one small detail-- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago."

Black breathes life into her characters and soul into their actions.  I plowed through White Cat. Cassel is such a compelling protagonist, he gets under your skin-- in the best kind of way.  More than once, I stopped reading and asked myself, "how does she know SO much about con-artists and mob bosses?"  But I already knew the answer: Black had done her research, and it shows. Trust me you will not be disappointed! 

So if you like your magic a bit more on the dark side, keep it in the family and check out Holly Black's White Cat.

Cassandra Clare, me, Holly Black

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm Published!

No, it's not my writing- yet, but my photography is featured in the September issue of Romantic Homes Magazine! 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Let's start at the beginning... ARE YOU READING?

Books, books...Image via Wikipedia
Okay, so pretty much every author out there will tell you that reading is key.  It's like the mother-lode.  It's the magic pill that everyone is trying to find. The one that, if taken on a daily basis, promises a life rich in knowledge and all that other warm fuzzy goodness AND it makes you a better writer.  I'm here to say it's true. 

"No one but a reader ever became a writer.  We write by the light of every book we ever read or had read to us."  Richard Peck 

I stand by this quote one million percent, because it is one million percent true.  Newbies, if you are not reading something right now- FOR FUN, FOR YOURSELF- then stop right now, go out and find something to read.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome all Newbies!

Newbie: (noun) a newcomer or novice

For ten months out of the year, I wake up before the sun, drive twenty minutes on toll roads, and then spend the day convincing one hundred and fifty teenagers that being literate is still a valuable skill in today's society.  But at night, I turn into THE NEWBIE NOVELIST; an occupational transformation that extends well into the summer months.  This year, I began working on my first novel, and (at the constant begging of my students), decided to blog about the experience.

At first, the blog was only going to be about my writing process.  But then some colleagues wanted me to post different writing prompts that I used in class for novel writing/plotting, and I got to thinking about all the different YA authors I personally liked and used in the classroom, so here's the deal. . .

    What will The Newbie Novelist offer?