Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A favorite description

Rabbi Steve came with us on our first day on the ropes. He was the kooky uncle I never had and didn’t know I wanted. He always carried a clipboard, always had on his Arizona Cardinals yarmulke, and always wore shorts that didn’t quite cover his knobby knees.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Revision Win

Over the weekend I reminded myself how much I love the revision process. It's like a win/win/win.

Win: I get to re-read my manuscript. And I still love my manuscript. It still makes me laugh and cry.

Win: I get to make my manuscript better. As I read - now that I'm months removed from it - I notice ways in which I can make minor adjustments to make it flow better and come alive.

Win: I get to go back to that exultant feeling I had every time I'd finish a writing sprint for #writeclub and looked at my word count.

Revisions are, of course, a much slower process. I find myself thinking over single words, and simple sentences. It's helping me hone my craft and to the Nth degree, and every time I finish a round I feel good. Better than a marathon.

Because if I ran a marathon, I'd be dead.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Forgiveness - and making time for my manuscript

In school we're doing this new initiative where we have each class come up with its own social contract, describing outlining the behavior they wish to see in the classroom.

My first group (13 seniors) took about 45 minutes.

My second group (16 kiddos, a mix of sophomores, juniors, and a few seniors) took about 70 minutes today and we're  not finished yet.

I bring this up because I had an actual lesson plan for today. I was planning on teaching actual history today, so that by the time the course ends in January, I might have actually taught my students U.S. History up through, you know, at least the year 2000.

Instead, not only did I not get to my lesson for today, but we're probably also not going to get to today's lesson tomorrow, or tomorrow's lesson tomorrow, because we're invested in this social contract and darn it, we're going to finish it and we're going to do it right.

I feel that way about my writing most of the time. I start out the day with a plan. I'm going to go to work, I'm going to stay until four or four thirty. I'm going to go home and have a small snack and then work on revisions, and then I'm going to read and then I'm going to go to bed.

But I can't do my stuff for me because I'm too busy helping students and other teachers and administration. So I push back my own work and take that home. I have an early dinner, take care of grading and planning and what-have-you until it's time to get ready for bed.

I climb in and look at my book, then realize I should check some social media, to show support to my friends and see if there are any interest writing things I need to know. Because that's what we're told - find your agents, follow them on twitter, learn about them, get to know them, so that you'll make a better query.

I fall asleep without ever actually doing any personal reading or writing, and then I get up and I do it all over again.

And I LOVE my life. I really do. I help and inspire. And I help TO inspire. My kids and peers look up to me - even while they're all looking down AT me.

Today I get to make revisions, because I forgot my students' assignments in the classroom, and I'm going to enjoy every moment I have doing it, and I'm so glad that I have this time. Because it will remind me - now that school has started - how important it is for me to make time for me and my manuscript. Ultimately that's still most important.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Teaching Life

Here's the thing.

I had every intention of continuing to update this regularly now that I've come back to it. But it's nine o'clock at night and it's the first time I have available to me to actually sit down and write anything out.

And really, I sat down in order to work, but I saw the link to the blog and thought I would say something instead.

I think that's why I just can't subscribe to the belief that to be a writer I have to sit down and write everyday. I want to sit down and write everyday, or otherwise work on my manuscript. I'd actually LOVE to sit down and revise every day. But most days I just can't.

I could let this get to me - but I won't. I have to take care of me, and sometimes "taking care of me" means allowing myself to step away to take care of my have-tos - grading and planning and facilitating - so that I'm better able to take on the want-tos.

And when it comes down to it, I'll be a better writer and editor and reviser - and TEACHER - when I allow myself to drop the ball sometimes. Because the ball is always there and ready for me to pick it back up.

I won't grow to resent the thing I love most - my writing - or the career that I truly believe is a calling - teaching.

And soon I'll have a rhythm to my schedule and it will be easier for me to carve out time for what really matters - me.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This is me! #PitchWars mentee bio

I'm a little in shock that it's been two years (and one month) since I've last written in my blog, but then again, I'm not. I stopped writing in this blog EXACTLY when I moved to Lake Havasu City and started teaching again.

Here's my new(ish) home:

(Photo credit:

I honestly don't believe it, either.

During the day I teach all of the high school Social Studies classes (World History, United States History, Government, and Economics) at a charter school. I'm my own department and collaborate really well with myself. Yes, I believe that teaching is as much a "calling" as it is a career. I love what I do even when it's difficult, and I live for the light that shines in my students when they make connections.

I just got the shivers - did you?

By night I write young adult novels, typically contemporary, but as a history teacher, you can bet I want to branch out into historical as well. Here is my WIP Wish List:
  • Historical set during the Glorious Revolution 
  • Historical set during the Salem Witch Trials
  • Historical set at the Buffalo Exposition (where President McKinley was shot)
  • Contemporary marching band rock opera
  • Sequel to Prom, my debut novel

I graduated from high school some time during the 21st century and went to Arizona State University where I majored in Broadcasting. I was a member of the Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band in the Auxiliary (flag line) for one year, but a mistake in my original construction caused me to quit after that first year. I worked at Borders Books, Music, and Cafe (light a candle) while earning my degree and then put my broadcasting skills to good use making closing announcements on Friday nights as the Merchandising Supervisor at my store.

I also volunteered as a teen crisis counselor while earning my degree, and then took a part time supervisor job there, where I worked until I started teaching in 2009. I miss it every day.

After a year I left to work as an assistant at the Office of the Governor for a year, and then a communications staffer for another year. To that end I've been published many times, but never under my own name, as I wrote on behalf of my boss.

I left the Office of the Governor to go grad school and earn a Master of Education, Secondary Education Curriculum and Instruction - or in layman's terms, I went to teacher school. I graduated in 2009 and taught for less than a year, and then threw in the towel in the hopes my students would be willing to learn something by anybody who wasn't me. I worked at a university for three and a half years as an academic counselor and earned a Bachelor of Arts in History in the process.

Miraculously, in 2013 I was offered a teaching job for the 2013-2014 school year, months before all of my paperwork expired. I moved to Havasu from Phoenix and never looked back. (I look back sometimes - those memories are often the foundation of my writing, and my teaching failures and successes remind me of the importance of perseverence.)

Here is a list of things I love, because this bio is getting to be way too long:

  • My cats, Pippin and Lucy
  • My family
  • My Ryan Adams Pandora playlist
  • Once Upon a Time
  • LOST
  • Sarah Ockler, Morgan Matson, and Jessi Kirby (their writing and their friendship)
  • Arizona State University and the Sun Devils
  • Arizona sports (even you, Rattlers and Mercury!)

My goal is to write here more often, if for no other reason to continue to review the books I'm reading when I'm finished reading them. And I may just document the process of writing the next WIP and (hopefully) querying/agenting/revising/selling Prom.