Monthly Archives: October 2007

Crazy!

It’s deadline and things are crazy beyond belief at school, but I’m still participating in NaNoWriMo. Some of my students wanted to do it, and I have a YA I’m dying to write, so I figured now was the time. I’ll share it with my students.

DD went to the doctor on her own today after school for the first time ever. She said she was sick. I thought she was faking. She’s got pneumonia. AND her diaphragm is too big so part of one lung is messed up and there’s nothing that can be done about that, but it explains why her chest starts hurting when she works out too hard. All this time I thought she was being a big baby.
I really suck as mom sometimes. 😦
Of course, she’s out at haunted houses tonight. And she spent all weekend in San Antonio playing. How sick can she be?!?

Twenty years ago I started Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and put it down 10 pages in. I thought I hated it. Kind of like I thought I hated poetry. I picked the book up a couple days ago because I felt I HAD to read it. It’s Jane. It’s P&P. I LOVE this book. It was hard to get into because the language is archaic, but once I got into the rhythm of the words, no problem. I’m sooooo glad DD brought it home.

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Jet lag?

Is it possible to have bus lag? I think I have it. Maybe it’s more bus driver lag.
I have a whole new respect for my bus drivers!

We’re looking at new cell phones. DH says no iPhone, so I’m looking at Trios and Blackberries. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Still working on revisions. My first three chapters rock. They’re perfect. They sing. They make me happy.
My next three chapters are what an editor once told me was called elliptical. They kind of say the same thing three different ways. There’s some new stuff there. Some character development. But the push pull between the hero and heroine is more yawn, been here before, let the relationship develop already! 🙂

I sure hope all the revision work I’m doing on this book is worth something. It’s taking every bit of will NOT to print the thing off and send it in. But it’s not ready.
Which sucks since I have another to revise AND my NaNo book to start since I promised my students we’d do NaNo. It’s a possessed teenager comedy. Seriously. I figure I’m an expert on possessed teenagers. You teach high school and watch Buffy long enough you learn all about that kind of thing. 🙂

Do you allow “be” verbs

So today while judging an adviser asked the rest of us if we allowed be verbs in our students’ writing. Perplexed, I said yes. And everyone else said no.
Being a total know-it-all (one of my many faults), I said something along the lines of be verbs “being” essential to our writing, it’s knowing how to use them effectively that matters. Then I started talking about books and authors I love and how they use be verbs. (Which was really me being a total smart a**, but still, I was making a point.)
And the advisers said books were different. I said writing is writing is writing is writing when you’re talking about writing for publication, but, again, I was outvoted. Not that it meant anything because it’s not like this is Survivor and there’s no island to send me home from, but it got me thinking.
Am I too easy with my kids and their writing?
WORSE, am I too easy on myself?

I know there are (and all its constructs) and It is (and all its constructs too!) are two of the weekest ways to start a sentence, and there’s almost always a better way. I believe and hold true the idea that VIVID VERBS make a story stronger. Especially if the verb is the focus. BUt if someone sits in a chair and sit isn’t the focus, should I look for a more vivid verb? (or is it vivider?!?) Granted sit isn’t a be verb–obviously he  be sitting is incorrect,–but I think the point is made. Or should it be, I made the point? Aren’t both the same thing? OH wait, they’re not the same at all. One is active. One is passive. So maybe that’s what this is all about. And DEAR GOD if it is, I’m never opening my mouth at one of these judging events again because I once said something about linking verbs and someone answered with transitive intransitive and my head nearly exploded.

Now I’m confused.
I can’t imagine making my kids circle all their be verbs and rewrite papers without them. Mainly because I don’t think I could do it and still have my writing sound real. BUT maybe I’m wrong. Maybe be verbs = writing hell. God, I hope not!

My phone…

My cell DIED today. DD spilled something and we thought it only spilled on the floor of the BUS I drove to San Antonio. Wrong. It spilled everywhere, including on my phone. So I’m stuck in SA without a cell with seven students who will be on the Riverwalk tomorrow night while I’m judging contests. ACK! You know, I used to come down here without a cell with students all the time, and it never bothered me. I’ve been conditioned.

Speaking of conditioned, I have Specials! I can’t wait to read it, but I have to because my revisions are killing me.
I almost bought Wicked Lovely today, but I balked at the hard cover price. I think I’ll wait until it’s out in paper even though everyone I know who’s read it LOVES it. I have a huge e-Harlequin order on the way, plus Specials and Pride and Prejudice (I’ve NEVER read it!), not to mention revisions to finish, so I can definitely wait.

Back to the BUS I had to drive. Our district did away with 15-passenger vans and bought a small bus for us to take on trips. It’s wide, I figure close to the width of a Mini Winne, and you have to use the mirrors to drive because you can’t see behind or beside you any other way. I was fine until we got to the busy traffic. I pretended to be fine then, but I was shaking the whole time. I don’t know if I can do this again next year. I might have to pay for a bus driver and a driver’s room. I don’t want to. We don’t get a yearbook budget, so this is paid for 100% by the kids. It would suck if they had to pay for a driver, too, but this about scared me to death.

DD’S book recommendation, A Great and Terrible Beauty. She saw it today and told me it’s one of her all-time favorites.
A student recommendation: The Golden Compass.

Overwriting

I love descriptive leads. Love them. My kids turn them in and I’m sooooo happy.
Except when they overwrite. What I’ve finally figured out is they only overwrite when they’re making the info. up. If the description’s in the source’s point of view, from interviews they conducted, they write true description. When they make things up based on what they think they know, they end up with that lovely purple prose I hate. 🙂

I realized today I had a dead body in chapter four that was there for effect because the story was slow.
After talking to one of my old CPs I realized the real problem was the chapter has no conflict. Ugh.
It’s there in the story, but it’s not in that chapter at all. In fact, other than the fact that the bad guys are after them and everyone might die, the hero and heroine are getting along just fine. There’s scattered conflict, but it’s all superficial. Glad I figured it out now.

CPA

So I shot a machine gun last night.
Great way to end a bad day at work. 🙂

Last night’s CPA class was SWAT and the range. WOW. I’ll get a photo of my target. Semi automatic, no problem. Automatic, OMG!

Moulin Rouge

I LOVE the intensity of the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Every time I listen to Roxanne, I get chills. It starts rough around the edges and then Ewan McGregor breaks in with the ballad and by the time it’s done I want to replay the whole thing and relive the experience.

That’s the feeling I want to capture with my books. The mix of plot and character and word choice that leaves the reader wanting more.
Deborah Smith’s books do that for me. Every time I read a Smith book I’m blown away. I want to read the words aloud just to feel them. A few years ago RaeAnne Thayne had an IM that did it. The book was about a rape survivor, and I loved that Thayne made her real without turning her into a victim.

The last couple weeks the kids have been blasting the Across the Universe soundtrack in the newsroom. The movie isn’t playing here, so several have them have made the trip to DFW. I REALLY want to see it. The 1-minute song Girl on the AU soundtrack has the same feel I’m talking about. I love it.

Still working on revisions. I finished yesterday, but it’s not quite there yet. Tis might be the first time I’ve truly been patient with my writing. I hope it pays off!

Two great books

The first great book I read this week was no big surprise. Rachel Gibson rarely disappoints me,and her Tangled up in You has earned its way onto my keeper shelf with its great characters, strong plot, laugh out loud and hand me a box of Kleenex moments. In case you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂

Then there was the surprise.
I stopped by the North Richland Hills B&N Dallas Writers Workshop booksigning to say hi to Rosemary Clement Moore and to buy Candy Havens’ book since I missed Candy when she was here for my local RWA meeting in April. Rosemary was gone, so I waited in line to say hi to Candy, and while I was in line, the guy sitting next to Candy talked the entire time. And the whole time he talked, I laughed.
Now, I’ll be honest. I’m easy. It’s not great feat to make me laugh. But when I turned my head and saw DH crack a smile, I thought Okay, I’m buying this guy’s book.
So I started looking.
And this campy cover grabbed me:

I’d heard A. Lee Martinez’s name before, but this was the first time I’d seen him or his books. Gil’s All Fright Diner is delightfully ridiculous. The writing amazing. The descriptions bring every single moment to life, which is saying something for a book like this. I read it out loud to dh from the B&N to the Dallas West End, and he laughed with me. There’s no way I can possibly explain what a miracle that is, so suffice it to say NEVER before has dh answered yes when I asked do you want me to keep reading. I’ll be buying the rest of Martinez’s books. I might try to find Gil’s on audio because the prose lends itself to audio.

Revised to add:
I FINISHED the first round of new revisions on one of the requests. The book’s not ready to go yet because I completely rewrote the end, but I LOVE it now. Woo Hoo!
DD’s watching Boston win and going crazy right now.

Hey, Stars GO!

Off to the Dallas Stars game. Hockey rocks, and I was thrilled when the Stars moved to Texas since I spent a few years in Minneapolis as a kid. 🙂
I have a signed pennant in my classroom from the Stanley Cup team. And yes, they did win the Cup legitimately, I don’t care what Sports Illustrated says.

School Vans

For years I’ve driven students around in 15-passenger vans. This year that all changed. Honestly, I see
that this is a good thing. Those vans racked all over the place when they were full.
I’m not entirely excited about the solution. The weekend of Oct. 26-29 I’ll be the one driving the WFISD small BUS with seven students inside all the way to San Antonio.
I’ve always considered myself a good driver, but a bus?!? ACK!

I’m scrapping everything I wrote last night. WHY is the climax of the suspense plot always the hardest for me to write? The romance end actually comes after the suspense end with this book, but I LOVE the romance end. It needs some light editing. That’s all. The suspense…ugh! Originally it was far too complex. I reworked the plot, changed the villain’s motivation and until now it’s been great. Now, UGH. It’s this super intense scene, but what I’ve written doesn’t feel intense at all. It feels like I’m standing on a cliff looking down seeing everything happen from a distance. Obviously that won’t work. But finding what will work is going to drive me crazy. 🙂

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