Monthly Archives: January 2007

Suspense and birthdays

In attempting revisions, I’ve discovered my suspense is way to plot focused and not character focused enough.
The characters are real. They’re fully developed interesting people I’d love to meet. BUT…
the story focuses on their external conflicts and big plot points instead of being built to exploit the internal conflicts and the push pull of the romance.
I wonder if I’m the last writer on earth to figure this out. 🙂

I woke up LATE this morning. I dreamed my throat was killing me and I’d called in sick to work, but then I woke up and felt great. I looked at the clock and flew out of bed. 15 minutes until time to leave for school.
My hair looked horrendous. All day half of it was plastered to the side of my head. I tried a headband, but it kept slipping off.
I thought I grabbed black socks, but when I got to school I realized I was wearing striped socks and flowered-y slide heels. If I hadn’t been wearing cropped pants, it would’ve been okay. On the bright side, I looked great from my knees to my neck. 🙂 It wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d realized what I’d done. But I was in too big of a rush. It took dd’s gasp and drawn out, “Mom, did you really wear those socks with those shoes?!”
Dang it.

Today is my birthday. Two of my students went around the room asking people what their favorite desserts were yesterday. I told them mine was one of my best friend’s chocolate mousse with cayenne pepper. That friend teaches in my building. The girls made the mousse and brought it to me today. 🙂 They didn’t care that my hair was a mess or that my socks and shoes didn’t match.:-)
A friend gave me scratch off lottery tickets in my card. I don’t play the lottery, so I had great fun scratching and waiting to see if I’d won. The first four were losers. But the last one won big. $100!!!! It took me awhile to figure it out though, so I wasn’t too excited right away. I know, what’s there to figure out? The game was called bags O riches. I figured the bags had to be lined up some special way. But nope, they didn’t. Eight bags meant I’d won $100. Then when I got home, I showed the cards to dh and he pointed out that I’d missed a couple blocks on one of the losing cards. I scratched those blocks and won another $10.
That friend’s b-day is this weekend. I bought her five scratch offs. I hope she wins too!
🙂

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New…
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to do a whole sale revamp of my original straight suspense. It’s a MAJOR under taking, but after going through it for a month, I’ve decided the suspense was too fast. The life and death moment too early and the secrets too obvious.
That said, the characters are awesome and they deserve a happy ending. Actually, the end of this book is good. But the beginning and early middle will need major work.
Target Market: SRS

This is my inspiration for Callah. She’s a little young, but her look here fits.


And Riley. 🙂

Too Many Directions

I’m at a loss.
I’ve spent the last several years writing stories I love BUT they’re not good enough, unique enough, emotional enough. Whatever enough.
I KNOW I haven’t spent enough time on revision and I think now is the time to correct that.
But it’s soooooo hard to decide what to do.
I need to commit to a plan and quit all this wishy-washiness. I need to study and write and revise and then revise some more.
UGH!
😦

Old books

I finished re-reading Gentle Rogue by J. Lindsey last week. I lied it okay, but nowhere near as much as Tender Rebel. There wasn’t enough conflict until the heroine got home and that was more than 1/2 way through the book. It was still good, though. The characters were very real.
Now I’m reading Drop Dead Gorgeous. Linda Howard is amazing. Mr. Perfect as the first of her books that made me laugh out loud. I’m glad she kept writing the funny mysteries.
The competition we went to this weekend was fun. We won the journalism team points, but it wasn’t what it could have been since there was a mix up on the scoring and the big j-schools editorials didn’t get judged. I discovered the error, but it was too late to fix it. No way could they take medals from kids who’d won them! Well, they could have, but it would’ve been wrong.
Another school there was neck and neck with us on points. Their eds didn’t get judged either and I know they were probably on par with ours, so it could’ve gone either way.
My birthday is Tuesday and BOY did I feel old at this competition. The girls–other advisers– judging were so YOUNG! They looked like my students, they sounded like my students, they made me feel ancient. 🙂
I think they were probably the same age I was when I first read Gentle Rogue. Strange thing: more and more YOUNG teachers are showing up in high schools. With AP credit several kids graduate college at 21. YIKES. I love the AP program, but NO WAY was I ready to graduate college at 21. I still needed to grow, to change majors, to find myself. 🙂 Of course, I needed to have fun too.
I’m excited about the upcoming week. I’m hosting the first book study at my school for Whatever it Takes (ALL teachers should go purchase this book then give it to their principals! It changed my life as a teacher!), and I have the first parent meeting for the Europe trip. By Friday I’ll decided whether or not I can afford Nationals. I haven’t sold a book and I want to be able to travel with my family like I did to Cancun, to Boston, like I’ll do this Spring Break to NYC and Europe next summer. Once I sell, I’ll DEFINITELY go. But until then, I don’t know. I feel bad when I’m not there. I miss seeing everyone. BUT can I justify the cost?
I don’t know.

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Reading Drop Dead Gorgeous and having fun. I LOVE the Dallas area Waldenbooks. I MISS Waldenbooks. sigh.

Mary tagged me:

Contemporary, Historical, or Paranormal?

All of the above 🙂

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?
 I prefer mass market paperback. It’s easier to transport and to hold.

Heyer or Austen?
Heyer. (I hate all those Austen Dear Readers…)

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?Amazon, unless I’m in Dallas or Austin. I love the Dallas Waldenbooks and I LOVE Austin’s Book People.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Neither, although I think Borders bought Waldenbooks.

Woodiwiss or Lindsay?Lindsay. Tender Rebel is one of my favorite books.

First romance novel you ever remember reading?
A ton of Heyer Regencies and the alpha male virginal secretaries or sisters (nurses)  from Harlequin

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random?
Random

Keep, Throw Away or Sell?
Keep or trade.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
with dustjacket

Sookie Stackhouse or Anita Blake? II used to love Anita. Not so much now. I LOVE Sookie

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
When tired usually

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
 Both

Crusie or SEP?SEP, but really, they’re almost even on my list. Bet Me and Dream a Little Dream are both on my top 10 list

Buy or Borrow?
Mostly I buy, sometimes trade.

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation or Browse?All.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?
Tidy ending! I hate books without resolution.

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading?
All of the above!

Series or standalone? Both. I love series (JD Robb, Evanovich, the Madonna Key series, the Chicago Stars) but I love standalone’s too.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? The Keeper by Margot Early. All of Early’s books are amazing. This one goes beyond amazing.

I tag Karen, Mel and Stacy

Cursive

I discovered this week that half my freshman class can’t read cursive.
ALARMING.
See for years I’ve been one of the teachers who said, cursive shmersive. Who cares? Print if you want. It doesn’t matter. Most of what you write today is on screen anyway.
Little did I know where that would take me.
I teach two classes of beginning journalism a day. I love those classes. We start the year off with a bunch of easy stuff and they get to watch me model how to write a lead or they copy the Inverted pyramid or they fill in the blanks on the First Amendment. Stuff like that. Usually my first six weeks grades are predominantly As.
But this semester, something was off.
So finally I asked if they’d rather I print.
They said yes.
So I asked if they could read cursive. 50% couldn’t. And I teach the cream of the crop academically in these classes. Kids who want to write, who want to go into newspaper or yearbook later in high school.

Once I switched to printing, the grades immediately lifted.
I was teaching to them in a language they couldn’t understand. The comments I made on their papers were pointless. They couldn’t read them. The work I modeled on the board: wasted time unless the kid was an auditory learner.
YIKES!
I know in the next few years this will cease to be that big of a deal, but right now, we still do a lot of work on paper. I still have to use the board to teach. I can’t always print because it’s too slow, but I can prepare early or something to make sure my kids aren’t missing out on the lesson.
I wonder if kids in other areas are having the same problems. Is cursive dying, or is my school district strange?

Left Behind

Several of my students are reading the Left Behind books. I never did, and I never will.
See, when I was a kid, I learned all about the rapture. And I lived in constant fear that it had taken place and I’d been left behind. Looking back on that terror, I laugh. But at the time it was traumatizing.
Traumatizing on the scale of Algebra in eighth grade.
My math teacher introduced the year with Congratulations kids. You’re in Algebra. Girls, you’re going to fail.
Now I was quite the rebel in those days. Not in a bad way but in the tell me it can’t be done and I’ll show you it can. But for some reason, I totally bought the jerk’s words. When he made me stand up at the board for an entire class period because I couldn’t figure out a factoring answer, I should’ve walked out the door. Instead I stood there, terrified. I still remember my friends in the class trying to give me clues, but I couldn’t really see. I had a cold that day and the teacher wouldn’t let me get a Kleenex. It was HORRIBLE! Horrible enough that over half a life later, I still vividly remember the incident. And I remember how awesome my high school math teacher was and how he tried to change my mindset where Algebra was concerned. I remember how I dropped math after sophomore year in high school and took four years of a foreign language in college to avoid ONE math class.
The Texas Legislature is suggesting all students in high school should not only take four years of math to graduate but that the math should be Pre-Cal or higher. I understand the need for math, kind of like I understand the need for a bible study. BUT I don’t understand making kids take a level of math that goes above and beyond what universities require is a good thing–especially for those kids who are going to a junior college, business school or trade school.

Back in the Olden Days

When I tell my students about the olden days, days when I was a kid, they laugh. See, they REALLY don’t get how much things have changed. I love the new song Dangerous because of the way it blends awesome old songs with rap today. Pretty cool as long as you get the clean version.
Talking about The Outsiders took me on a fun trip down memory lane. I’ve now downloaded the great music I used to live for, the bands whose posters quickly found their way right next to the Outsider boys’ posters.

This was the first Bon Jovi I fellin love with. My friend went somewhere over the summer and came back with the awesome new tape. We listened to it ALL the time.

Then there was Cinderella. MAN, I loved them. An you know what? Their music still rocks.

Last is Bon Jovi again. (I still can’t believe my mom let me hang this poster on my door!)
This was going out time. I finally had my driver’s license and my friends and I would sneak over to the city of sin, Wichita Falls. On good days, I could make my hair look just like Bon Jovi’s…if I had enough hair spray. 🙂 Back then, my friends who went to the school I now teach at stayed in trouble with the assistant principal who would walk around with a ruler NOT measuring skirt lengths but instead measuring how far their hair stood out. Too far, you went home.
BEst big hair recipe. Spiral perm. That was a must. Then, blow dry hair upside down spraying Aqua Net under and on top. (It was only .79 for a can, so that’s what we used.) TEASE, tease, tease. Top with Avec hairspray. Expensive stuff you could only find at beauty supply stores. It turned your hair into concrete.

MAN. And I think the boys in size 0 girl pants are strange today. 🙂

Revision process

I’ve used a million different processes in revising over the years. One thing I’ve learned is I revise WAY too fast. I don’t give it a good final go-through AFTER I think I’m done.
This time I’m trying something different.
I’m going through and editing and making notes using comments ON Screen.
Next I’ll go through the scenes I’ve made comments on and really bring them to life, bump up the conflict or emotion or whatever it is the comments mention.
THEN I’ll print the book out and revise a paper copy.
I think it will make a stronger product. The last revision I did was similar without the comments section.

I’ve heard of people using different colors for revising, but I think I’ll wait for that. I PREACH revision to my students, but for some reason, I’ve skipped that step in my own writing. I don’t think I’m tough enough on myself.
Recently someone read my stuff and said the characters sounded very much the same. Maybe I could use colors to help with that.
What do you do?
And just for kicks…
when I was a kid my all time favorite book started with
As I stepped out into the sunlight from the darkness of the movie house.
When the movie came out, I instantly covered my walls in posters. (I was IN LUV with C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon)
What was the book/movie?

School Trips

I LOVE traveling with students. A lot of my friends think I’m crazy, but watching teenagers’ faces light up as the lessons they’ve learned in class become real is one of the best payoffs in my job.
I travel several times in state a year. The last couple years, I’ve had the joy of introducing kids to enchiladas and the Riverwalk in San Antonio. 🙂
This year I’ll be taking a group of students to NYC for Spring Break.  Most have never been.
Summer of 2008 I’ll be the newbie on the block. For the first time ever, I’m going to Europe! We’re going to London, Paris and Rome and I can’t wait!!! I’ve always wanted to see Europe, but dh isn’t the least bit interested. This way I get to experience it with my students and my daughter. And NONE of us have been to Europe. Woo Hoo!!! (I can’t wait to actually see Piccadilly Square. All those historical romances I’ve read are going to be even more real.)

Started back at the Y today. I was sooooo excited because I had a great cardio workout podcast. Oh DEAR GOD!! I was thinking it might be difficult. I wasn’t thinking it was going to be background music for porn. NEVER again. I was surrounded by all these people and all the sudden…uh, what?
I’ll stick to Rush from now on for workouts. 🙂

Writing update: Revising, revising, revising. 11 pages today. I LOVE the comments feature on Word. I hope I still love it when I go back to fix whole scenes that need help!