Sunday, October 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
...If so, I don't want to be right.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I have a problem. Too many characters in my WiP have names ending in a hard "e" (Merci, Conchi, Lily). So I'm going to have a contest. YOU will re-name my character, Lily.
In the comments, post your suggestion for a girl's name. You can even post your own name, but be forewarned that the girl is a mean girl. She says nasty things about people and people say nasty things about her.
If I choose your name, not only will you be helping me write the book, you'll also win a signed copy of Sarah Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye. Contest is open until Sunday, August 21st 7:00 PM.
Woohoo! This is going to be fun.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Here are some of them in no particular order of seriousness (*note* I'm posting these fears as a kind of writing exercise/therapy session; please don't feel like you have to comment and tell me that my fears are unfounded. I know most of them probably are, but I feel like putting them in writing will help me to deal with them.):
- Everyone else will be better writers than I am and they'll wonder why I'm even there.
- My roommate won't like me.
- I'll have to hang out by myself the entire time.
- My teachers will won't like my writing/my genre.
- Everyone else will be really skinny and won't want to eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream with me.
- My shuttle doesn't show up and I have no way to get from Burlington to Montpelier.
- My luggage gets lost and I end up wearing the same outfit the entire time I'm there.
That being written, I'm so excited to go. I'm excited to go to New England for the first time, to learn from authors who are publishing right now, to become a better writer. And hopefully to make new writing friends.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions."
--Rainer Maria Rilke
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Well, here's some more of what I learned about Life From WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers) 2011.
The first day I went to breakout sessions with Emily Wing Smith and Claudia Mills. Emily's was "Surviving and Thriving as a Pre-published Author" while Claudia's was "Defeating Your Demons."
Here's a few of the things I learned about life from these lovely ladies.
1. Appreciating the journey: Emily Wing Smith told us that this time (our pre-published time) is special in our careers as writers. This is a time when we are FREE TO WRITE. For me, and for so many others, not just writers, we just want to hurry up and get there! We want to get to that time in our lives that we see as perfect, and so we don't appreciate the fact that, right now, we're doing the thing that we really love to do and not worrying so much about the business of it.
We need to learn to deal with the roadblocks to appreciating what we have. Emily said these things are Jealousy, Discouragement, and Impatience. Think about these roadblocks: What is your dream, your perfect life? Where are you right now on that journey? Are these three things holding you back or getting in your way? If you said "no", would you please hurry up and develop an online course explaining how you've overcome these things, so I can take it and become just like you? :)
2. "Who do you think you are? You're not a _____________." Claudia Mills had us shout out our "demons," the things that hold us back. And then she quickly defeated those demons with her vorpal sword (snicker snack!). I loved this breakout, because every single demon the other people in the room had, I have too. One that really resonated with me was, "Who do you think you are? You're not a writer!"
I have the hardest time telling people that I'm a writer and an artist. I don't feel like a writer or an artist (although writers and artists would probably tell me that they just feel like normal people...and I am always amazed that the writers and artists I admire are NORMAL PEOPLE! Seriously, Amy can vouch for that. I always get nervous when I'm about to meet an author, and everytime I leave saying, "Wow. She's normal!").
Claudia's weapon for this demon? She said that if we write, and keep at it, then we are writers. Each of us has stories that no one else has. Isn't that true for all of us? Each of us has a song inside us that no one else can sing or a floral arrangement that no one else can create or a poem that no one else can pen. What if we chose to believe this demon? Then the world would never have what only we can give it.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Carol brought together an amazing group of teachers who have already influenced my writing (for good and not for eeevil) and my life. And, in my usual way, I am going to share what I learned about life while learning about writing. This is Part 1 in my new series: What I Learned About Life from WIFYR 2011.
First, I was in the boot camp morning workshop with the fabulous A.E. Cannon (otherwise known as Ann) (otherwise known as Amazing!)as our drill sargeant. The first morning, Ann shared with us some of her own writing mistakes. Here are a couple:
1. Be in scene: Great advice for writing; fantastic advice for life. So many times, I'm focusing on the past, what I did wrong, what I could have done instead of what I did do, and, of course, the WHAT IF? is always looming over my head. Or I am thinking about my future: what I'll do when I'm a published author, who I'll invite over to my house for a tea party if I ever get my house cleaned, how will I react in this or that kind of situation. While focusing on the past or the future, I am not
Being in scene,to me, means that we are enjoying the ride we are on in this moment. This doesn't meant that we don't make goals for ourselves or that we don't learn from our past mistakes, but that we don't spend so much time focusing on those things that we forget the joy and excitement of living our lives!
2. Don't wait for the right time in your life: For me, this is directly related to writing, because for so long, I waited for the time to write. After I came home from my mission, I started my Master's and teacher certification program, I got married, I started teaching, I started having children, I kept teaching, and all the while, I wanted to write, but I didn't have time.
Two years ago, when I met Ann for the first time during a summer institute of the Central Utah Writing Project, she told us that if we wanted to write, we had to make time for it. It was like a Homer Simpson "d'oh!" moment for me. Of course! If I wanted to be a writer, if I wanted a writing life, then I had to make time to write. And so I did. And I'm so grateful that I did.
Yeah, my house might be a little bit messier (it was never that clean anyway) and my two older children have learned to make their own PBJ sandwiches and chicken nuggets (a useful skill for boys of any age), but I am writing! I am doing the thing that feeds my soul.
You might not be interested in a writing life, but, probably, you have something you long to do. Are you doing it? If not, why not? Can you let something else go so that you can _____________ (insert soul-feeding activity here)?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Here's the new date and time:
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 6:30 PM.
Click here to learn more about the class and how to register.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Your $15 class fee includes:
Instruction by moi.
All supplies for one bracelet: satin, fleece, button, snap, thread, needles, candle
You need to bring:
A good pair of scissors for cutting fabric
Class is limited to 10 participants and will take place in West Valley City, UT on Wednesday, June 29 at 6:30 PM.
Extra flower bracelet supplies can be purchased for $5 each.
To register, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Originally uploaded by jjpacres
"What you have to be is in love. With writing. Not with ideas about what to write; not with daydreams about what you're going to do when you're successful. You have to be in love with writing itself, with the solitary and satisfying act of sitting down and watching something you hold in your head and your heart quietly transform itself into words on a page." --Elizabeth Berg
It was during those moments of longing that I wrote this.
Magic in my Backyard
It's here--no, it isn't
But I want it to be here
I want the magic to be at my disposal
all the time
Not just when I go for a visit.
I don't want to visit the magic
Go on vacation to experience it.
I want to have it with me here,
all the time.
Last week, I decided I wanted to find that magic. So my boys and I wnet for a nature walk in our backyard. It's kind of a jungle out there; we haven't done anything with it yet this year. These are the pictures we took as we discovered the magic in our backyard.
Beautiful flowers (the first two are actually weeds, but aren't they pretty?)
Incredible, amazing, fabulous creatures (also known as my children)
This summer, I'm going to look for the magic that's in my own yard and in my own city. What about you?
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
In those moments, I am the best mom ever!
I remember the times when my mom let us sleep outside on the trampoline. We only did it once or twice, but we were so excited when we did. We were having an adventure. And it took place within the safe confines of our yard and a few dozen steps from a flushing toilet.
Since my last post, more than one person has pointed out to me that I am at the start of my own adventure. Amy, just this morning, reminded me that, just because I'm not moving or quitting my job, doesn't mean that I'm not on the verge of something new and exciting. And my MOM commented on my last post reminding me of that same adventure as I start at Vermont College in July.
That forced me to look at my life and really see my new adventure, my new "Once upon a time" as Nicole likes to call it. So, maybe I'm not camping in some awesome place like Yellowstone or, I don't know, Hawaii. But I am going to have an awesome time while I camp in my own backyard (or, actually, on my bed with the door shut and locked, a sign that says, "Mom at work. Do not disturb," taped to the door) and going on a couple of sleepovers (across the country).
Maybe I'll get myself an Indiana Jones-style hat to remind myself that I, too, am having an adventure.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
So, the Rapture has come and gone and I'm still here.
Okay, so are the rest of you. I think...
This spring has been a season of changes. My BFF Amy and I have taught next door to one another for 8 years. The wall between our classroom has a hole so big in it that we can pass notes, and occassionally candy, back and forth. And we IM each other constantly during the school day. We go to writing conferences together. She's my crit partner, my beta reader, and my writing group.
And now she's quitting teaching to follow her lifelong dream and go to law school.
My cousin Nicole and I are soul sisters. When we were younger, her dad joked that God knew that we would drive each other crazy if we were real sisters, so He made us cousins instead. Nicole gets me, more than any other person. And we're both trying to break out of our cocoons and become the people we know we're meant to be. When I talk to Nicole (which is not frequent enough) about how I'm feeling, about my desire for something different, about my fear of change, she KNOWS.
And she's moving from around the corner and across the street to Arizona.
I'm uber-excited for both of them! I can't wait to see where their journeys lead them, to watch them live their dreams, to become the people they're meant to be.
But I'm feeling like I'm being left behind. Much like the Rapture, the people I love the most are going to someplace better, and I'm stuck here, taking care of their pets.
Am I green with envy? Maybe I am a pale shade of sage, because I want to be going as well. No, I don't want to go to law school and I don't want to move to Arizona, but I do want to be moving forward, making big (yet scary) changes. But I'm not. Come fall, I'll still be teaching in the same room I've been in for years. I'll be living in the same valley where I've spent most of my life.
Here's the thing: I have the feeling that I haven't learned when I'm meant to learn and that's why I'm not making big, sweeping changes in my life. I just wish the Universe would tell me what it is I'm meant to learn, so I can study really hard, pass the test, and move on.
More likely, I know, is that I'm on my adventure already, but that it's a slower, more meandering kind of adventure that requires lots of little steps instead of huge strides.
I'd just like a map, you know, so I can see where I'm going, and how far along the path I already am.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Welcome to the Daydream Cafe! It's good to see you again!
Do you need a moment with the menu?
No, I know exactly what I want.
[Pulls out pad and pen.] Great! What would you like?
I've been daydreaming about the artist who'll write the music for the film version of my unpublished novel. Kind of like Simon and Garfunkel and The Graduate?
Ah, dreaming big today!
Yeah. Is that okay?
Of course! It's your daydream. So, who were you thinking about?
This is kind of embarrassing, but I've daydreaming about P!nk writing entirely original songs for my book.
Hey! Don't be embarrassed. There's nothing wrong with dreaming big.
Okay, then. I'll take the soundtrack by P!nk. And that will be all for today.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Welcome to the Daydream Cafe! I'm your server. Care to hear about our special?
Today's special consists of a heaping serving of the authors who are going to blurb your currently unpublished novel. We have quite a selection to choose from today.
Someone told me you had Robin McKinley on the menu; is she still available?
The author of Beauty and The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword?
Yes, and Sunshine too.
You're in luck! I believe there is only one more Robin McKinley back in the Daydream kitchen. She's been a popular one today.
Excellent! I'll take her then with a side serving of Kristin Cashore.
Nice choice! Would you like a Stephanie Meyer for dessert?
Mmm, not today, thanks. Maybe for the next novel.
Okay, we'll have that right up for you then!
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
And my writing? Holy cow! I was on fire. I was writing almost every single night. I had over 100 pages revised in Cinder Thief.
And then, I realized I didn't like my story anymore. It wasn't the story I set out to write, and yet I'd written an entire first draft and 100 pages of a second draft. So I started over.
And then I got the really awesome news about being accepted into Vermont College. And, for some reason, that stopped my progress in its tracks. I don't know why. Maybe because it felt just too good to be true, I spent more time thinking about that instead of my writing. Or maybe I'm afraid of success.
Does that sound odd? To be afraid of success? To see that what you want is right around the corner and so you decide to make a detour instead, avoiding what you've always wanted?
I've done this before. I've let myself give up on something because I was afraid. So, maybe there's a pattern for it in my life.
However, there have been so many other things I've been afraid of and I wanted to quit, but for some reason I didn't. There was a time when I was working towards my teaching certification that I almost threw in the towel and said, "Forget it." But something kept me from doing that.
Now, I need to find that something again and start writing again. Because if I stop writing, it won't matter that I got into that program (since, you know, it's a writing program).
The world I'm contemplating for myself is scary, but it's also exciting. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.
Friday, March 11, 2011
I read about what happened, and I'm appalled. Appalled! I'm appalled that this is what the media is focusing on instead of what the real issue is: that a child was talking in class and that a parent, instead of getting upset at her child for his bad behavior, she is lashing out at you in a very public way.
I'm a teacher, but I'm also a parent, and I can tell you, that if I found out that my child had been talking out in class, my child would be the one who got into trouble. In fact, my child did get in trouble for talking while the teacher was talking, and I didn't contact the evening news to tell them about it. Instead, he was grounded from his video games. And we haven't had any problems since then.
I wish, now, that the reporters who've spent time talking to this mom, encouraging her to tell her story, would now give you a chance to tell your story. The story of how you have 25 2nd graders in your class, some of them with learning disabilities, some of them who don't speak English as their first language, some who come to school hungry, and some who just had a bad night at home the day before.
I wish the media would interview the parents of students whose lives you've touched. The kids who struggled with reading. The kids who just needed a little bit of extra attention from you. The kids who love and adore you and who love learning because of the time (paid and unpaid) that you spend preparing lessons.
My hope is that you can continue on being the best teacher you can be, and that you are receiving the positive attention you most undoubtedly deserve even if it's not in the public eye.
A fellow teacher
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
"If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill--take it and push it as far as it will go, push it beyond where it has ever been before, push it to the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of magic." --Tom Robbins
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Here's my new favorite question to ask people:
What would you do if you could do anything and didn't have to worry about paying the mortgage or buying food for your family?
Now, I'm not a therapist or a life coach or a self-help guru (although the last two sound like awesome jobs!), but I believe our individual answers to that question can be revealing. And I think that we need to try and get as close as possible to living ouranswer. Whether we take baby steps or Bigfoot steps doesn't matter as much as taking those steps.
So, now I ask you the same question: What would you do if you could do anything you wanted to do? If you're not ready to answer that question here in the blogworld, answer it in your journal. Then, if you have a couple of extra minutes, what steps are you taking (or are you going to take) to live your answer?
Monday, February 14, 2011
Last night, after what had pretty much been a week-long writing dry spell (my fault, not hers), I opened up Word and started writing a scene I've had in my head for a while for Cinder Thief. It wasn't in order of what I've been doing and, like a lot of my revision has been, wasn't even in the first draft. But it's been rattling around in there, and I decided yesterday it had to get down on paper. Or in an electronic file as it were. Four pages done. Woot!
Then, I still had all of this...writing energy. I was unstoppable, so I didn't stop. I opened up Un-Merci-ful, which I haven't looked at since I started revising Cinder Thief in December and revised a scene (which really was writing almost an entirely new scene). It was awesome! Full of...awesome! Four and a half pages of awesome. Woot woot!
So, after that, I really should have gone to bed, you know, because I had to get up and go to work and all. But being unstoppable as I was, I opened up the Maui romance, which I haven't looked at since October. Yeah, it was pretty much genius. I figured out the whole problem that the two characters were having, discovered that there was legal basis for an annulment for such a problem, and wrote 5 1/2 pages of genius. Woot woot woot!
Really, I'm not tooting my own horn here. I'm here to toot my muse's horn.
Thank you, Muse, for being so awesome. What would I do without you? Enjoy the flowers and have a lovely Valentine's Day.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
In my studio, I have a desk for making art. I have a sewing machine all set up on its very own table. I even have a writing desk. Do you know where I write? On my bed. Why don't I use my desk?
I can't even get to it.
I also can't use my art desk or my sewing machine. *hangs head in disgust*
I do mixed-media art. What does that mean? That means that I have my fingers in many different kinds of art supplies. Some people wouldn't even consider what I have in there an "art supply." (Why do you have all of the bubble wrap you've ever got in the mail in here? You use these shelf liners for what? What are these empty envelopes that come in your bills doing stacked up on the floor?)
The problem: I keep everything because one day I might need it for something in my art. That strip of scrapbook paper that you'd throw away? Yeah, I'd keep that. That fluffy romance that you read once and you're ready to send it to the thrift store? I could use it to make a cool pendant. That broken necklace that you'll never wear again? Hmm, let me see that...
Last week, as I attempted to make sense of the national disaster that is my studio, I came to the realization that cleaning out my studio is much like trying to revise my writing.
The problem: Sometimes I write something that I really, really love in the first draft. And then others really, really love it too. I feel like I have to keep it. Other people liked it! Why would I toss that line of dialogue or that description?
Because the story no longer needs it.
But it's still so hard to get rid of. I've had to learn that I can't keep it simply because I like it; I have to stay true to my story, and the story has grown up, changed. I can't tie it down with bits and pieces it no longer needs.
It's hard to let those favorite bits go, but, in the end, the story is the most important thing.
Now if I could just learn to do that in my studio...