Monday, August 15, 2011

Following my Dreams

For as long as I can remember, I've had two dreams: publish a novel and attend law school. Writing had been much easier to incorporate into my life because I could still do it with my job. Law school, on the other hand, seemed to be an impossible dream. 

Until now. 

In April I found out I'd been accepted to law school. Like most educational programs, law school is likened to a full-time job. In fact, most schools discourage students from working while attending law school. So I've quit my job and have decided that writing (and this blog) will need to be put temporarily onto my back-burner. When life settles down a bit and I have more time, I plan on writing again.

Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments these past couple of years. If you'd still like to follow my adventures (of law school instead of writing), please visit my new blog at:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weak vs. Strong

I'm tired of female characters who make stupid decisions. Like going out at night, alone, when you know someone's been stalking you for weeks. I mean, really? Even if it's a technique to build suspense, I don't like it. My friend and crit partner refers to this as the BSS, or the Bella Swan Syndrome.

I prefer kick-ass female protagonists (picture Buffy or Katniss). Aren't those the models we want for teenage girls, ones who stand up for their beliefs and protect their friends and family? Yet, I keep reading YA books with female characters that make me want to hurl my Kindle across the room (don't worry, I love my Kindle too much to actually follow through with it).

As a writer, my characters don't start off strong. They have struggles. They're naive. They're unsure of themselves. But they grow into better versions of themselves as they face their fears and self-doubt. These are the kinds of protagonists I want to read about. 

But maybe that's just me. What about you? What kinds of characters do you prefer to read or write?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Hell I'd Like to Call Revision

I'm embarrassed to admit this: I don't know how to revise. I'm an English teacher. I encourage my students to revise all the time. So what's wrong with ME? Why am I struggling so hard to revise my novel and get it ready for submission this summer?

I don't think this makes me a terrible English teacher. I can help my students revise essays, especially the persuasive ones that the state and district seem so fond of using in writing assessments. But my novel? My baby? It's so hard! (And yes, I know I'm on the verge of whining. I can't help it!)

After spending an entire week feeling overwhelmed, I received an email that helped me see the light at the end of my revision tunnel. A couple of months ago I signed up for the Writer's Boot Camp at WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers). The class will be taught by Ann Cannon, author of several books including The Loser's Guide to Life and Love. She sent a welcome letter yesterday that gave me nearly three pages worth of questions to think about during the revision process. Thank you, Ann! This was exactly what I needed. I have about three months to whip my baby into shape because 55 pages will be read by Ann and nine other strangers (I cringe just thinking about it!). 

But now I have direction, and I intend to approach each question one step at a time. I'd love to hear any suggestions about how you tackle revision.

Does anyone have any sage advice about revision? Tricks that have worked well for you? Website links of golden information? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Am I a Literary Snob?

I've heard people say that being a writer takes away the joy they used to have as a reader. I thought, No! That will never happen to me! I love books too much. I never cared about whether or not the book I was reading would win any awards; I only wanted a good story that kept me turning the pages. 

Lately, though, I've had a harder time finding books that I enjoy. I don't focus only on an engrossing story. I look at the way the writer has crafted it. And then I express my frustration to my critique partner and wonder if she sees the same flaws I see! 

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. It opens me up to recognizing the same kinds of flaws in my own writing, to see what I need to avoid doing. There's a reason why people recommend reading widely if you're going to be a writer. On the positive side, when I do find a book that I enjoy, I can look at it from a writer's perspective to see how the author succeeded with his or her craft. 

Do you look at books differently now that you're a writer? Is it a positive or a negative experience for you?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Books, Books, Books

I was at the doctor's office the other day for a routine physical exam. Although the doctor goes to church with my parents, I'd never met him before. Like all new doctors, he asked me questions to get to know me, probably to help me feel at ease in his office.

I had a book with me--which I'm never without in a doctor's office because of all the waiting and waiting and waiting--so it sparked some conversation. Okay, a lot of conversation. (I now know that half of his kids like to read, the others don't, his wife reads, but he reads nothing more than scientific journals. But I digress.) He asked me what I do when I'm not reading. My response? I write.

The truth is ... books are a huge part of my life. I'm either reading them, writing them, or teaching them. I can't image life without them, and I've passed on my love of reading to my son. It makes me proud to see his eyes light up when he talks about a book. And the great part? It happens over and over again each time he submerges himself in a new book. I hope he never loses his enthusiasm for reading. 

I consider myself lucky that my parents supported my love of reading too. Every summer or Christmas vacation, my mom took me to the library, and I'd come home with stacks of books. And even better, my family provided me the means to buy a Kindle for my birthday.

Yes, I own a Kindle. That doesn't mean I won't ever buy a regular book again (my Kindle will NOT be joining me in a bubble bath!). But I like the ease of finding a good book to read without having to worry about shipping or waiting for my holds to come in at the library. Even better: my suitcase will be tons lighter the next time I travel.

I know there are those who fear what eBooks may do to the publishing industry. But I think anything that makes reading accessible to more people is a good thing. I've even had students bring their Kindles or Nooks to class during independent reading. eBooks are just one more way to enjoy reading. 

What about you? Do you have an eReader? Why or why not? And most important, what books should I buy for my Kindle? :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Becoming a Writer (and the Giveaway Winner!)

I've made a breakthrough in my life as a writer. A couple of weeks ago, I confidently stood in front of a group of people and called myself a writer. To many, that may not seem like a big deal. Yet, to me, it was a huge moment. 

I'm not a new writer. I remember as a child writing stories, like the modern version of Rumpelstiltskin starring Kirk Cameron (it was the 80s after all) that my friends and I performed in front of the neighbors. Or the ABC Christmas story I wrote for my parents that my sister unearthed from boxes of old school work and shared with our family on Christmas Eve. Or the short story I bravely submitted in 6th grade to a local magazine and received my first rejection (I wish I still had this!).

But having the courage to follow through on my dream of writing a full-length novel was new. Sadly, I lost the first chapter I wrote when my laptop was stolen over two years ago, but that didn't stop me. I started again, and a little over a year ago, I finished the first draft of my first novel. Since then, I have started a second novel and completed the first draft of my third. Now I'm working on revisions on my third novel. 

I've moved beyond dipping my toes into the pool of writing and have submerged myself entirely. So, after a year of blogging, I've decided to drop "novice" from my title. I hope you continue to follow me along my journey!

And now, the winner of my 1st Blogoversary Giveaway (drum roll, please):


Friday, January 21, 2011

Have You Done It Yet?

Today is your last chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card for my 1st Blogoversary Giveway. Go here to enter and to view the rules. 

The contest ends tonight at 10pm MST. Good luck!