Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Go forth and win books before the sands in the 2010 Hourglass fade!!!

Hey guys and gals, my writer buddy and fellow GotYA blogger, Susanne Winnacker has a kickass contest going on. Hie thee hence to her blog(sorry, had to throw in some Shakespeare), and check it out!!!

http://susannewritesfiction.blogspot.com/2010/12/2010-farewell-contest.html

These fab books are up for grabs!!!!


The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Matched by Ally Condie

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: My Annus Horribilis but some bright spots!

To write my end of the year post, I'm making an homage to my nerdom, er, fandom for British Royalty by quoting Queen Elizabeth II. For Queen Elizabeth, 1992 was her Annus Horribilis.....3 of her 4 kids separated, Prince Charles wanted to be a tampon, Fergie got her toes sucked, and then Windsor Castle went up in flames. That would be an off year!


For me, I've had a bit of my own Annus Horribillis.
(1). The Personal: I never quite grasped the meaning when people said, "Well, you have your health" until it was a little too late. In 2009, I began struggling with anemia. But 2010 brought on a full on B12 deficiency, which is way more serious than I ever imagined until I suffered from it. Most people think, "Oh, just take some vitamins", but my doctor prescribed twice a week B12 shots. I went from going 90 miles a minute to being sidelined. Friends, coworkers, and family used to always say to me, "You need to learn to say NO more!" because I was willing to do anything at school, for friends, etc. I also loved walking 4-5 miles every day or every other day. That came to a screeching halt as well.

In mid January and February, I began having to come home from work and go to bed. I couldn't make it through the day I was so exhausted. Even after eight hours of sleeping, I could not get up in the mornings. It just wasn't hitting the snooze button, it was like being physically incapacitated. It also made the depression I often suffered from worse....

The good news is I'm doing much better...I now administer the shots myself, which is a feat in itself since I hate needles! I'm hoping to get back in the walking groove in 2011.

(2). The Professional: Last year was also one of the worst years professionally. So much so, I left teaching to pursue freelance writing full time(or so I thought...more on that in a minute!). Although I loved my students dearly, last year was a tough group. Throw in my health problems, and it made for a volatile mix. I had never actually dreaded going to work before....usually I was pumped about what I was teaching or introducing a new topic. But last year, I grew to literally hate teaching.

I also didn't receive the support at my school that I would have hoped....Sometimes when you do everything you can, people do not look kindly when you no longer do it. It's kinda funny how the tide can turn so quickly. One year you're given a Class Act Teaching Award by a local news station and featured on their morning program, and then the next year you can't do anything right. That fact coupled with everything else led me to leave teaching for my mental and physical health.

Although I'd gotten my answer from God early in the summer about what I should do, my leave from teaching lasted all of a week and two days! LOL Staying home and freelancing all day wasn't quite what I thought it would be, and I missed the kids. I got a call from Walker County about a 12th grade British Lit job...major drawback was the job was an hour and ten minutes away....old teaching job was 25. But I fell in love with the school and fellow teachers the moment I interviewed. I accepted the job the same day I interviewed. God seriously meant for me to be in the classroom because I got two more teaching job calls that week. I'm very thankful for my new job and new environment.

(3). Submission Angst: 2010 was the year I came so close to my dreams of publication that I could reach out and touch them....only to have them brush past me like a stranger in a crowd(yes, that's a Field of Dreams quote allusion!) People told me I'd get book news when I least expected it....that couldn't have been more true. I was a on a tour bus in Washington DC when my phone rang. Since the driver/guide had been like, "DO NOT ANSWER YOUR PHONES", I had to die a little when I saw it was my agent. I knew she wouldn't be calling if it wasn't something. When we got off at the Wall aka the Vietnam War Memorial, I hid under a tree and called her back.

An editor at a Big 6 Pub loved Don't Hate the Player....this editor might even be at ALA, the conference I was in DC for, so I should go scope her out. Things were looking good! I could have peed myself with excitement. And then came the waiting game/roller coaster ride that stretched an agonizing two and a half weeks before DHtP went to an Acquisitions meeting. In between this time, I had a conference call with the editor and my agent...she was a former teacher....we clicked....I loved her revisions ideas for DHtP....it was awesome.

And then it all took a hellish turn like in I Dreamed a Dream, from Les Miserables. Acquisitions wouldn't support pubbing it. I'll never forget that day either. I was getting my house ready to have the minister and about 30 other people from church for lunch the next day. I was so upset by the afternoon call, that I couldn't go to church that night. My faith had been tested. But once again, I pulled myself up my the bootstraps and went on.
There's been a lot of faith testing in 2010....but miraculously each time I was tested, God spoke directly to me. He showed me he'd been guiding me and keeping me in the palm of his hand. That's one of the greatest things of 2010....even in the darkest moments, he's always with me.

One of the bright spots was acquiring Duke aka Little Man. Sure, he was supposed to be my grandmother's dog until his crackdog energy antics made her unable to keep him. And he's eaten more of my shoes than I care to say, but he's also one of the sweetest tempered dogs I've ever seen. He's also so very loving, and he brightened many dark, dark days with his crazy antics.













I mean, how can you not love that face?











Here he is "degutting" a pillow when I turned my back to change the sheets.
















One of the greatest bright spots for me is my grandmother....I plan on doing a separate post for her later on, but she is srsly what gets me through. She is the sole beacon of light in a sometimes dark world. After losing my mom eight years ago, my grandmother, Big Mama, or Grammy as she is known in the writing world, has meant the world to me. She lost her only children, my mom and my aunt, within a month of each other in 2002, but throughout those dark and desperate days, her faith never wavered, and she persevered. I'm so thankful she only lives five minutes from me...it's nice having a Rock of Gibraltar so close!!

Besides God, dogs, and my grandmother, bright spots have been the funny things my students say, old students who keep in touch with me, my writer buddies who keep me sane, my regular old friends who make me laugh.
When it all comes down to it, I'm very, very blessed.
And so, that has been my 2010....I'm hoping 2011 is going to be "sent straight from Heaven",and that many of the things I've been hoping and praying for will materialize.
I wish all my family, friends, writer buddies a safe, happy, and prosperous 2011.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver=5 Thumbs UP!


TITLE: DELIRIUM
AUTHOR: Lauren Oliver
Release Date:
February 1st, 2011
Genre: Romance, Dystopia, Sci-fi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 440






VERDICT: 5 out of 5 Thumbs Up


SYNOPSIS:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that one love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.


My Thoughts:


The Good:

(1). The MC, Lena, is kick ass, but not in the typical kick ass of beating people up. She has strength of emotional character. What she has endured and then what she continues to endure throughout the course of the book is really epic. I thought she showed great courage under fire. I also enjoyed how her character evolves throughout the book.

(2). Alex was totally swoon-worthy. The way he is introduced at the beginning gives us a total James Dean Rebel Without a Cause mentality. It is both sexy and endearing as the novel progresses. He isn't just dangerous and forbidden, but he's dangerous and forbidden with a purpose. He really epitomizes the Snow Patrol song Open Your Eyes in the way his relationship evolves with Lena. And the scenes when they are together are WHITE HOT SMEXINESS!! I mean, you might want to prepare to turn the heat down, turn on a fan or smoke a cigarette b/c it is HOTT!!!

(3). Great BFF in the form of Hana....I loved how wild and free she was, and how she got Lena to question things.

(4). The prose is phenomenal! I mean, I'm blown away and made to feel completely inadequate with my own writing. Ms. Oliver's turn phrase is really impressive. The pictures she painted with her words really enhanced my appreciation of the book.

(5). The aspect of "love" being forbidden isn't just restricted to physical love between two people....it is the love between mother and child, family, friends, etc. The scenes where Lena flashbacked to her mom were heartbreaking--especially since I've lost my own mom and could totally connect with her pain.

The Bad:

(1). While there's not a whole lot of bad, I saw a lot of similarities between this book and Matched, and since I know Ms. Oliver works for a development company, that kinda concerned me. BUT, for me, I liked Delirium a whole lot more. I feel it had far more depth of story, character, etc. and she should have gotten the seven figures advanced, lol. :) It was hard for me to stop reading, even late into the night.

(2). Some aspects of the whole "love being banned" didn't necessarily ring true of why a government would want to necessarily do that.....besides the Big Brother aspect there wasn't a whole lot of government motivation and all.

The Ugly:

(1). Honestly, the ending really isn't ugly it just blew me away....and not necessarily in a good way. I won't divulge too much more, but you should just be prepared. It's also agony thinking of waiting for the next book to come out.

I would totally recommend Delirium, and it is probably going to be my favorite Dystopian next to the Hunger Games!!! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HELL YEAH, IT'S HARRY POTTER TIME!!!


Where will I be at Midnight tonight?

AT THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PREMIERE!!!

I'm so stoked, can you tell?!!

I'm not sure exactly how I'll feel this time tomorrow after getting around 3 hours sleep. I do plan to go home this evening and disco nap a bit.

Here's to all of you who might be seeing it tonight, or tomorrow, or this weekend!!!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

When You're Having a Jessie Spano Meltdown....


I'm stressed....I'm going to go right ahead and say it. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. I'm at the Jessie Spano/Saved By the Bell "I'm so excited, I'm so excited...I'm scared!" meltdown moment. :)

Here's some reasons why....





(1). Love, love my new teaching job. Don't love how I'm making CONSIDERABLY less than I did at my previous teaching job. So, this means I have to supplement my monthly income by doing freelance articles. Sure, they're not that hard....Sure, I feel very lucky to have this side job...BUT, it's also tough after a day of teaching to go home and focus on writing articles OR to have to pick them up on the weekends, BLECH!

(2). I'm trying to participate in NaNO. Really, Krista? You might be asking. Didn't you just complete 35 to 40K of a novel LAST month? Why yes, I did. However, it is a Dystopian, and Dystopians are becoming a dime a dozen with the market being flooded. Yes, I have a book on sub, but it's YAUF, which is also saturated, and holy hell, it's got angels in it! EESH! So, I'm hoping to finish a quirky little YAUF that I had 5K in when I abandoned it as well as a Contemp that I love, love, love, which had 20K in it for NaNO. Finding time to write between school and articles is HARD!

(3). Life....in general. Yeah, I just lost one of my favorite uncles to cancer. He really stepped in after my parents died to be there for me whenever I needed him. Plus, he was just plain and simple hilarious and was always doing something to make me laugh. I'm really, really going to miss him, and I know this holiday season is going to be really, really hard.

So yeah, that's why I'm at my Jesse Spano meltdown moment. I'm seriously considering taking up mediating to try to counteract with all this stress.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back on Sub with a CRAZY Idea!

So, I officially went on sub today for The Guardians. Being on sub for the second time is a strange feeling. There's excitement, fear, giddiness, anticipation--all of what I felt the first time I went on sub with DHtP, but it feels magnified times a million! So much so that my Grammy, and resident therapist, was already pep talking me last night about "putting it out of my mind', not getting down and out with rejections, etc.

That's is soooooooo much easier said than done. Especially for me who is highly neurotic and a big time worrier.

Going back on sub is tough for another reason. I didn't talk on my blog about what happened in June/July with DHtP and the submission process. I've talked about it lots on AW, but I'll go for it her. Basically, an editor fell in love with DHtP, and I fell in love with the editor when we talked on the phone--yes, I even got to conference call with this editor, and then the most horrible thing happened. It died in acquisitions. It was very, very devastating.

Since mid July, I haven't been on sub. I was officially on sub with DHtP from late November to July. I've been fine tuning The Guardians, which was the first YA I ever wrote. It's a labor of love to keep with something for so long because you believe in the story and characters.

Anyway, long post short, here's what I'm planning to do if & when I sell......

I seem to favor red heads lately for the MC's in my novels. Cassie, my songbird angel, is redhead, and then so is Cadence, my spitfire in Testament. So, when and if TG sells, I'm going to DYE MY HAIR RED!!!

Yep, that's right. I'm going red! I already have some "cinnamon" lowlites in my hair during the winter months, but if I sell, I'm going full on red!!!

It's about the craziest thing I can think of right now to do when/if I sell.

Whatcha think? Cool or lame idea? Think of something else crazy I can do?

PS. I've also thought of buying an angel costume since TG deals with angels!!! :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Slobber: My Mini-NaNo Experience aka Finishing My Dystopian

Welcome to another segment of Sunday Slobber....yes, I really had a segment called that, but it's just been a long time since I did one! lol

This is pupster, Duke, sacked out with exhaustion beside me on the couch. This is what I feel like today. Why? Well, because I just finished my YA Dystopian. *cue the Journey Don't Stop Believin'* Yes, I never saw myself writing a Dystopian...and when the idea for Testament came, I wrote about 6K of it and sent a synops to my agent. Even though she loved the concept, I never saw myself actually finishing it. But hey, guess what? I did!










In a way, I had my own mini-NaNO experience since I basically wrote 40K of the 60K this month. At times, I thought I would pull my hair out...others I marveled in the characters and world I was building. You know, that spark--that brief and always fleeting moment when you actually self-love, rather than self-loathe, your work? Yeah, I had it big time! And then it came time to write the end. As a total pantser, I don't use an outline or synops, and I never write it order. Well, this time I had a synops(which continously changed!), and I wrote it order. But truthfully, I think the ending was just because I was afriad of where and how to cut it off. That's never really happened to me before. Thankfully, my writer buddies and angels, Jamie and Hannah, helped me get through it and talked me down from the ledge.



So, since I really haven't talked about it on the blog, I thought I'd do a little quickie. Testament came to me last May/June. While trying to think of a way to hop on the Dystopian bandwagon(Hey, I'm being honest here!), an idea hit me with a mixture of the biblical stories of Esther and Joseph. I may post more of a summary later, but for right now, here's a little snip of the characters.




For my MC, Cadence O'Bryant, I see her as both of these versions of the lovely, Evan Rachel Wood. Why? Well, because during the course of the book she undergoes a transformation at the "pageant". She's typical teen, or typical Dystopian teen, lol, and then she's made to be something else. At her core, she is a fiery red-head. In fact, I had flashes of Maureen O'Hara in the Quiet Man when I was writing her. She loses control of her mouth on many, many occasions. There's a deeper and darker side to her since she's been through a lot of heartache and had to be strong.






If I had to have a favorite character besides my MC, it would be Malacky Greene. He's one of those characters who was never supposed to have a big story. He was simply Cadence's brother's best friend in one of the introductory scenes--and he kinda had some funny banter with her. And then suddenly, he was much, much more! He harboured a crush on Cadence and would do anything to keep her safe and happy. He's also a bit of a goofball, and he tries to hide behind his humor a lot. I seriously fell in love with him when I was writing! LOL Fortunately, he's 19 in the story, so it wasn't some pervy, underage thing! LOL





And then my cocky, but misunderstood, Cullen, which I'm sure I'll get grief for the name, but srsly, I didn't go for a Twilight knock-off. Most of the characters have names with Gaelic origins, and Cullen means "handsome" in Gaelic. I never really wanted to write a love triangle, and when Malacky wrote himself, so did the love triangle. Cullen's the rich son of the CEO who now rules the former America. While he's used to having his way, he also has a softer side, and one beta reader totally fell in love with him! LOL











And so Testament now goes off to agent reading land to see how it fares with her. *fingers crossed*

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday 5 Dreams

So the very awesome Karla N is having a contest for Wade, Fade, and Gone . Creatively since the stories are about dream, writing about your dreams is part of the contest. So, here are 5 of my dreams.

(1). Get Married: Yes, I've been waiting for this dream to materialize since I was a little girl. Even though the divorce rate is 50%, I still want to take one trip down the aisle. And even though I'm not seeing anyone at the moment, I know that Mr. Right could appear at any moment!

(2). Have a Baby: My dream to have a child is probably stronger than my desire to get married. I've just always been maternal, wanted children, etc. If you had talked to "10 yrs ago Krista", she would have already believe this dream would've come true. But alas, it hasn't. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and saying prayers that both #1 and #2 happen SOON!!!

(3). Publish a book, or two, or 5: I think this is probably the dream of every writer. To be published. I've wanted to be a published author since I was a little girl. I got close this summer, and I'm hoping to finally achieve this dream soon!

(4). See Ireland & Scotland: Although my family has been here in America since the 1700's in some cases, I have an affinity deep in my bones for the "homeland", so to speak, of Ireland and Scotland. This is where family on both sides of my family came from along with England(but I've been there before). I really, really want to see these places. Hmm, maybe when I get a book deal!

(5). Be able to teach 1/2 time: I guess this dream goes along wtih the publishing dream b/c I'd love to just have to work part time. Well, it could also go along with #1 too, lol. I'd love to have more time to devote to writing and volunteering.

So there you have it. My 5 Dreams. What are yours? Be sure to stop by Karla's contest!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday What's Up

So Blogesphere, what's up this Wednesday? Here's what's up with me!

(1). I'm really excited about this weekend. I'm going to the Hilton Head, but more importantly, I'm going to finally meet my writer buddy & GotYA gal, Annie, and we're meeting up with other writer buddy and GotYA gal, Jennifer. Since Jennifer lives close, I've gotten to meet up with her twice, but this will be a first with Annie. I'm really, really excited because these gals mean so much to me and my writing.

(2). I've read the best books lately. Hex Hall, by the lovely, hilarious, and talented Rachel Hawkins, was the BOMB! So very funny and such an brilliant spin on witches and other supernatural creatures. Her MC, Sophie, is hilarious, and I totally connected with her being a teenage witch screw up, lol. Because of Banned Books week and the craziness with Speak, I bought The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. OMG, I was BLOWN away. Junior's voice is brilliant and hilarious and tragic all at the same time. I laughed and cried and became angered at the injustice and all. I couldn't recommend two books that are more different or are more AWESOME!

(3). Writing wise I'm trucking along on Testament, my YA Post Apac/Dystopian. I NEVER saw myself writing Dystop since I've never read it that much, but when the idea came to me, I thought, "Hey, that's kinda cool. I might could enjoy that!" Then when I sent the summary to my agent, she really, really liked it and wanted me to focus on it. So, I'm at almost 30K....I'm hoping to knock out a big chunk next week on my school's break. We'll see!!!

So, now it's your turn. What's up with you?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stuck in a Moment & Memories of My Mom

I've been in a funk lately. You know what I mean? Those epic quicksands of emotion that leave you drowning. Yeah, I've been there for awhile. I mean, I'm thankful for my new job and all, and professionally things worked out after the epic black hole or horror this summer, lol. At the same time, there are a lot of other question marks right now that are making life difficult. Will I finally meet Prince Charming before my expiration date....I iz 31, ya know? When will I have the longed for baby so that accidentally going down the baby aisle at Walmart doesn't send a stabbing pain of longing reverberating through my chest? When will my book be published? AUGHHHHH! Too many questions!!!


For the most part, September is notoriously a hard month for me. It reaps a harvest of painful memories and takes me back to the last stretch of my mother's life. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma--one of the most severe and most aggressive brain tumors on August 26th, 2002. At first, the doctors were very positive. She would have the tumor removed, have some radiation at best, and all would be good. However, that was before they did the actual surgery and realized the type and severity of the tumor. The mortality rate for Glioblastomas are 24 months at best. My mom only got four weeks. She passed away on the 28th of September, 2002.



















Losing my mom shattered me, and honestly, a part of me died with her. Or at least, who I once was died with her. She was my best friend, my rock of faith, my never ending cheerleader. As an only child and one she tried for many years to have, she called me the Sunshine in her Life. And in the same token, she was the sunshine in mine. I couldn't imagine a life without her in it. I get angry sometimes when people say to me, "Oh, I couldn't bear losing my mother." Even though I know they mean well, I have to fight the urge to scream at them, "Well, do you think I signed up for this, because I sure as hell didn't? I'm dying here!" I didn't think I could bear it. I thought I would die from the grief--sometimes I wanted to. I still lived at home at the time my mother passed away, and she was my entire world.



Time does heal wounds, but you're never fully healed. And months like September seem to pour salt on those wounds. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss my mother--that I don't wish to be comforted by her again, to hear her laugh, to feel her arms around me. Then there are days when it shifts to a painful ache--one that leaves me emotionally crippled. But somehow you get through--somehow you survive, and you find the strength to go on in the love that you shared.











Goodbye's the Saddest Word: Celine Dion

Mama, you gave life to me.
Turned a baby into a lady.
And mama, all you had to offer was a promise of a lifetime of love.

Now I know.
There is no other love like a mother's love for her child .
And I know love so complete someday must leave.
Must say goodbye.

Goodbye's the saddest word I'll ever hear.
Goodbye's the last time I will hold you near.
Someday you'll say that word and I will cry.
It'll break my heart to hear you say goodbye.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAKING LOUDLY in Defense of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

It's very ironic to experience a wonderful church service and "dinner on the grounds" as we say in the South, and then come home to find what I did about some religious fanatic trying to ban Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. I want to SPEAKLOUDLY today for Laurie Halse Anderson, for being against book banning, and for being a Christian who is not a "hater" or a "zealot"

If you follow me on twitter or go to message boards I'm on, you might be going, "Um, really Krista, you're a strong Christian? Hmm..." I'll be the first to admit I cuss like a sailor, crack sexual inuendo jokes, probably diss/gossip about people way more than I should, etc. Dude, those are my major vices and sins, lol, and I repent with the best of them! But when it comes down to it, I'm as Christian/spiritual/faith based as they come.

At the core of my being and in all facets of my life, I am a person of faith. Church was what I was brought up with--my grandfather was a Baptist minister, my mother and father's families all went to the same small, Baptist church. I've lost friends and boyfriends because of my moral choices, but hey, it's what I believed. As for my church, it is like a second home to me. The people that belong there have stood by me during the darkest times of my life.

You can't have experienced what I have in life and survive practically unscathed(aka not an alcoholic or drug abuser) if you're not a person of faith. I lost my dad to cancer just two weeks before I graduated high school. Five years later, my mom passed away also from cancer. They were 51 and 52 respectively. A month after my mom passed away, her sister who was like a 2nd mom to me, also died. As an only child and unmarried, I felt all alone in the world. But the truth is I was far from alone. Not only did I have my grandmother, my extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and my church family, but I had much more--I had a personal relationship with God who brought me from extreme darkness to light.

Since speaking up is important, I want to speak up about the depression I experienced bc if my story can help anyone, then it all won't be in vain. I've been to the bottom most reaches of despair--so much so I contemplated taking my own life on two occasions. One of the occasions found me in the garage with the car running, praying for God to give me the strength to take my life. But he never did. Instead, he held me in his arms and saw me through the darkest moments. There are still low times in my life--I'm waiting for things I've been praying for and are waiting for them to come to fruition. But I know that God and my faith will see me through.

I felt the need to talk about my faith since the very talented and fabulous Myra McEntire also did in her post. I wanted to preface that I was a Christian, but I cannot imagine trying to ban books. While there are certainly books out there I wouldn't want my future kids reading, that's MY choice to tell them not to read it; it shouldn't be the choice of one parent or a school board to say what is right or wrong. I've always been horrified by Christians who hop on the book burning bandwagon like with harmless books like Harry Potter. Sheesh. It's like my mom used to say when some Christians wanted to make a big deal about dressing as witches or goblins. She was like, "Well, those people do not have very much religion or faith if that is what they have to worry about!" I think this goes along with book banning as well.

I'm also labeled as many things because I'm a Christian. Intolerance seems to be the biggest issue among Christians today. Unfortunately, the most intolerant of us are the most vocal. There's a large silent majority who live by the Bible's teachings, which is to leave judgement to God. I find it most appalling that a minister would advocate the burning of the Quran, or that Christians would go protest a fallen soldier's funeral or a homosexual's. Those are not principles of the Bible and certainly not WWJD aka What Would Jesus Do!

I taught Speak a year ago, and it was one of the best experiences I've had with a novel. Both my Freshman girls and boys loved it. We had great, thought provoking discussions. I'm not teaching 9th this year, but if I was, I would TOTALLY teach Speak again. I am planning on saying something with my Seniors tomorrow about Speak, about book burning etc, even though it is not on the curriculum.

At ALA in June, I got to meet Laurie, and she signed copies of Forge and Chains. I was able t0 tell her how much teaching Speak meant to me and how much I loved her work. She is one of the kindest, most giving authors I've ever met. With all her success, there are no airs about her. She seems as down to earth as anyone I know. But most of all, I know she's taken on tough issues so that teenagers can have a voice and perspective in the world. I admire her for that, and she and always will be a literary hero of mine.

So, I'm about to order several copies of Speak on Amazon. I suggest you do the same. Let's stand up for the rights of young women. I know I've had and do have students who have been victims of sexual abuse. I want them to have a voice. I want everyone who has been abused to have a voice. And I want people of faith to get on their knees and pray for guidance rather than spewing hate and intolerance.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Slobber: My Trip to the Decatur Book Festival!

*Disclaimer: The reason this post goes under "Sunday Slobber" is it was supposed to happen yesterday, but blogger was being a $%#&*, so I had to wait to post until this morning.


So, I actually dehermitized yesterday, got out of the ol' writing chair for something besides teaching, to head down to the Decatur Book Festival. For those of you unfamiliar with DBF, which until this year included myself, lol, it is the largest independent book festival in the nation. It's a hodge-podge of genres and authors getting together to talk about writing. Best part: it's FREE! I had all good intentions of attending both days. However, the migraine from hades attacked me at 6am this morning, so I didn't quite make it.

I was so thrilled to get to do something again with Regan. We had an awesome time last January at our Writer's Weekend in Gatlinburg. Saturday dawned a gorgeous pre-fall day. It was a cloudless sky with a slight breeze--a thankful respite from the usual heinous Georgia humidity and heat. I met Regan for lunch at Mary Mac's Team Room--I'd never been before, and it was AWESOME! I'd highly recommend it for great Southern food, plus it is quite the celebrity hotspot. Then we headed on to the festival. Decatur is just over the Fulton County/Atlanta border.



Here's some quick facts I learned! (Props to Myra McEntire and Heather Tresse since my phone died partway through, and I'm borrowing some of their tweets! Was sooo excited to me the awesomely lovely and funny Myra McEntire! You need to mark Hourglass to read come this May! It will be teh bomb! Bummed that Heather and I were in the same room, yet we didn't manage to say hello. Argh!


Here's Alyxandra Harvey and Carrie Ryan during the Vampire Vs. Zombie smackdown!























The Method Behind the Magic panel with Saundra Mitchell, Jessica Verday, Cinda Williams Chima and Kathleen Duey.







*Colored streaks seem to be the hip thing with YA Writer's. Blue, pink, purple, green--very cool. I will have to contemplate this fact if and when I get a deal. It would be purple since purple is my favorite color. I don't suppose the cinnamon low lites I get during the winter months actually count...hmm....



*Alyxandra Harvey and I could be twins. She doesn't outline, and she doesn't like to listen to music with lyrics while writing. That's SO me.



Here's Rachel Hawkins and Nancy Werlin during the panel.

















*The guy who lead the Zombie vs. Vampire smackdown with Carrie Ryan and Alyxandra Harvey was HILARIOUS! I love how he had us answer prozombie or provampire with either zombie groans or vampire hisses! LOL

*I ducked out at the start of the Hawkins/Werlin panel to run down to Decatur High where my cousin, former Georgia Poet Laureate, David Bottoms, was on a panel of poets. I got to hear him for a bit and then run down to the end of the stage to say a quick hello since I needed to get back to the YA panel instead of his signing. *I have several of his books of poetry and his novel signed anyway, lol*


*Nancy Werlin, author of Impossible and Extraordinary, suggests that a book cover doesn't have to have anything to do with your book. It just has to make people pick it up. She showed us the two different covers for Impossible, and we automatically gravitated towards the one with more color and a mysterious girl on the cover rather than a white washed one.



*Carrie Ryan was a Debutante back in the day, and she also worked at the Coroner's Office. So, she's got real life experience describe Zombie bones poking out and all, lol. She also wrote Forest of Hands and Teeth for NaNo month.


*I made somewhat of a goof when meeting the very funny, awesome, and approachable Rachel Hawkins of Hex Hall. I thought she was the person that Myra had been looking for in the room(we were tweeting to each other), and I made a "And you are?" loser faux paus. She was very nice about it tho. :)




*Per Rachel Hawkins: Covers matter--especially when they put a cat on yours, and there's no cat in the book. She has since revisited her cat stance, and there is a cat being introduced into book three since so many people have written to her about the cat! We all had a laugh imagining people writing fan fiction about the cat.


*Jessica Verday suggests building a book bible when coming up with your fantasy world. It helps to keep yourself in check and remember what you need to about your world.


*Kathleen Duey's advice on writing fantasy is to STRETCH!


*Saundra Mitchell says with fantasy that she makes it up as she goes along, but she does stop and check in with reality as she goes along! lOL




Anyway, it was so awesome, and I wish I had gotten to see Cassie Clare, Michelle Zink, and Jackson Pearce on Sunday. Bummer!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Post on Beta Readers with a Lord of the Rings Twist! *And shamless Double Dipping with GotYA!

I've noticed that "betas" seem to be a hot topic lately in the blogasphere. Actually, it's not beta fish people are talking about. Although I did have one when I was in middle school. It's name was Mr. Dude....but that's a story for another day.
Critique Partners are an invaluable part of your writing career. I'm forever in debt to the people who have bravely gone where no man has gone before and read my manuscripts.
One of the first beta readers I ever had on my YAUF is someone you may have heard of. She has a book officially coming out in September, although it has been spotted in the wild! (subliminal message: Go buy the Duff!) Yep, Kody Keplinger was one of my original betas. And guess what? I got to do the same for her on The Duff. She was gracious and awesome enough to include me and some of the other beta readers in the acknowledgements!! :)






Anyway, I digress. Writing is often an isolating hobby. We hunker down in strange locations, clutching our laptops or notebooks as we escape into the uncharted realms of our imagination. In a way, we become Gollum from Lord of the Rings with our own “preshus”. If you've ever had a word count deadline or been in revision hell, you know how feasible it is to actually begin to resemble Gollum physically. And when this happens, you should seriously step away from the computer for a period of time.










So, stay with me here as I continue to use the Lord of the Rings analogy for critique partners. After you've taken that first brave step and had someone, or several people, read your work, it's only natural that you become comfortable with a select few. The bond you form with these people is very much like that of the Fellowship of the Ring. You're out for a common good: making that manuscript the best it can be either for querying, for an agent, or for an editor. The best critique partners are the ones who give a mixture of tough, constructive criticism as well as comments that can talk you down from the ledge or stop you from torching your laptop in rage.

But the greatest gift I've found with my critique partners is the friendship. These are people who will pick me up when the publishing game has left me bloodied and battered on the floor. They are the wind beneath my wings, and the reason I get up, brush myself off, and try to fly once again. Some people say it takes a village to raise a child. I think this is true in the publishing world as well. I know I couldn't have made it this far without my critique partners....my manuscripts most CERTAINLY could not have made this far!
So, if you've got your own group of Sam's, Merry's and Pippin's, then hold tight to them. They're what make the journey--the quest up to Mt. Doom feasible.
My Critique Partner thanks goes to Jamie Blair, Annie McElfresh, Becca Rogers, Stephanie Jenkins, and Hannah Wydey. GOLDEN GIRLS BOOK TOUR 2054!!!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Flashback Friday and GotYA

Hey guys!

Yes, it's me the sucktastic blogger actually blogging. Whoo hoo, right? Well, don't get too excited. I'm not actually blogging....I'm actually giving you some linkie love of today's post and last Friday's post on GotYA. Yes, I'm terrible and sacrifice my own blog for the sake of the group.

This week's Flashback Friday gives you some inspirational quotes to think about as well as the opportunity to enter and win Personal Demons.

Last week's Flashback Friday deals with awesome 90's show My So Called Life--a must see for any Contemporary YA writer.

So, check them out!!! :)




Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Krista, you got some splanin' to do!": A Post on Why I'm Taking a Break from Teaching

This is a timely post in some ways, and in others, it's way over due. It's to address why I'm not teaching this year. And I thought I'd borrow a little from one of my favorite shows, I Love Lucy, to explain what exactly was going on.







There's been two kind of reactions when I told people I would not be going back to teaching next year.

#1



and #2



















BUT WHY?
I think people are shocked for a number of reasons. The first being I've taught for nine years. Yep, nine years. I like to flatter myself I was just a mere child myself when I started teaching....actually, it's more like I was barely 22 when I got my first job. I taught six years in middle school, three years in high school, and I also taught one year of adjunct college classes. Besides the experience, most people know I spent time and energy on teaching. In other words, I got my Masters degree and my Gifted Certification. I also won a Class Act Teaching Award and got featured on a local news station. And most know that I love teaching. They've heard me tell stories about teaching, talk about my students--even request prayer at church for them. So I guess that's why they've been baffled.

And really, I'm taking a break this year. I don't intend to turn my back on teaching forever. I'd miss the kids too much to do that.

WHAT WILL YOU DO?
I'm not leaving teaching to do nothing but sit around the house. I DO HAVE another job--I would not have left without making sure I had another income. I will be freelance writing for Demand Studios. I know the word "freelance" makes it sound like fly by night or not steady work. But it is! I can make as much as I did teaching....frankly, I can make more than I made teaching. It just depends on the hours I want to devote to it. I write on what I want to, when I want to, and I get paid twice a week. Not bad, huh? And I get to work from the comfort of home....in my pajamas. *yes, I'm smiling right now*

So what do I write? I get to write on anything and everything. Demand gives you set titles. You research about them and then write them. I've written on everything from the Top Buckhead Condos, to how to get cat urine how of carpet, to goals for student teachers, to RV campgrounds in Idaho. That's the beauty of it. You write on so many different things that it's hard to get bored.

Here's what my new work schedule will look like:

7:00: Get up and go walk(I want to build back to the 5miles I once did)
8:00-8:30: Breakfast & Shower
8:30-12:00: Work
12:00-2:00: Lunch and Afternoon Break(Probably cooking some for my grammy to make sure she's eating better)
2:00-4:00: Work


ONCE AGAIN....WHY?
But here's the truth and real reason I left: I needed a change. I was mentally and physically broken down. Some people might not think that Anemia coupled with B12 deficiency is really an issue. Trust me, it is. When you come in from work and have to sleep two hours just to get through the evening, it's a problem. I went from walking five miles a day to barely having the
energy to get through the day, least of all walk. I'm on two self given B12 shots a week now--not fun for the gal who hates needles. Once upon a time, I could get a B12 and then run laps around my house. Nope, that's sadly not the case anymore. They're more for energy surival than energy boosts now. I'm hoping that this year off will help me recharge and get back to where I once was. Then I'll go back to teaching, or if something else has come along then, I'll do that.

What it boils down to is this is a God thing. He's calling the shots. He gave me the answers I needed to know what I was doing was the right thing. It's terribly hard trust him and not doing what feels comfortable to you. But in the end, I know it's for the best.

So, that's the skinny on why I'm not teaching this year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sunday Slobber: My DC Trip Recap

Hey guys,

*DISCLAIMER: I HAVE BEEN MESSING WITH THE MARGINS, SPACING, PICTURES, etc FOR THIS POST FOR OVER AN HOUR!!! I GIVE UP! I HATE, HATE, HATE BLOGGER!!!

Anyway, carry on!!!


Wow, I'm blogging twice in one week. Shocking, huh? I know you think what pupster Duke is doing is all I've been doing this summer, but I promise it's not.....life has been EPICALLY complicated, lol.

While I blogged over at GotYA about my ALA experience( here is the LINK if you wanna check it out), I wanted to do a little recap of my DC trip. I'd never been to our nation's capital before, so I left two days before the conference started to do a little sight seeing.






First stop was the Smithsonian--can't believe how huge and how many of them there are. Once I figured to head over to the Museum of American History(no offense, I wasn't much on the Natural History--although seeing the Hope Diamond was way cool! As a history nerd, I really wanted to see the First Ladies dresses. And as an even bigger Kennedy fan, I was stoked to see Jackie Kennedy's innaugural gown.






And here's Michelle Obama's



















Also in the museum of American History are the Ruby Red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz. I played Auntie Em in an elementary school version back in the day! LOL

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And then as a big fan of the Carol Burnette Show, I loved that they had the gown she wore in the Gone with the Wind parody sketch with the "curtain" dress


















After the Smithsonian, I headed over to the National Archives where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are housed. And don't let the movie National Treasure fool you. They keep the room very dim to protect the documents, and the average wait time to see them is forty-five minutes. The actual Declaration is hard to read in parts because the writing has faded over time. Very cool to see it up close and personal.

While walking around I saw the Hoover FBI building and the Bobby Kennedy Justice Building. Then I took a Trolley tour of the city, and I got to see the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Jefferson Memorial, Capital, Union Station, White House South lawn, etc . On Thursday afternoon, I had also planned to see Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot, but I found out after the fact you had to get your tickets a day in advance, so I only got to see the outside of the building. BUMMER! I packed a lot into Thursday from 12:00 on, so I headed back to the hotel with burning feet and took it easy for the rest of the evening, lol.



On Friday morning, I headed out with a group tour to George Washington's home, Mt. Vernon. The former plantation grounds are immense and very beautiful. The Washington's loved to entertain, and they almost always had guests at their house. We even saw the bedroom where George died. I also met a lot of great people on the tour, which was also very nice.

The back porch looks out over the river, and it's BEAUTIFUL!!!

















Next up on the tour was Christ Church where both George Washington and Robert E Lee attended.





















Then we headed over to Arlington National Cemetery to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, which is really amazing, humbling, emotional, etc to watch.






















Then we stopped at the Kennedy graves. As I said before, I've always been a big fan as well as reader of history on the Kennedy family--their service to America, their courage and faith under extreme circumstances--so I was especially thankful to get to see where John and Jackie were buried along with Bobby and Teddy. Their graves are on the hillside below the Custus Lee mansion, which is also very beautiful.


I deeply admire Bobby Kennedy for his work on the Civil Rights Movement, the less fortunate, and wanting to get us out of Vietnam. It was very surreal to stand before his grave, especially after just teaching about him in May.




After Arlington, we stopped at the WWII Navy monument, which is also known as the Iwa Jima memorial. My grandfather served in the Navy during WWII, so this was especially poignant for me.










Our last stop was at the Vietnam, Korean, and Lincoln Memorials. The Vietnam Memorial is especially important to me since my dad served in Vietnam and passed away in 1997 from Agent Orange Related cancer from his service. He visited the wall in the 80's, and I have pictures of him standing before it and the statue of soliders. As a child, I saw the Moving Wall several times at the Vietnam Veteran campouts we would go to over Memorial Day. But seeing the actual one was very important.















The Presidents I admire most are Lincoln, Roosevelt, and JFK. So, the Lincoln Memorial was on my list of places I HAD to see for many reasons. The first being it was about the man I greatly admired and felt a great affinity with. Lincoln struggled for most of his life with depression over the loss of family members, especially his mother, but his depression was the kind that fueled his greatness. I certainly feel a connection with him on that matter. Secondly, my great-grandfather, a master stone carver, actually worked on the Lincoln monument back in the 20's. So, visiting there was an appreciation of his work as well. Finally, another man I great admire, Martin Luther King Jr, gave his famous I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was amazing to think of how much history has been there.






It is such an imposing sight when you step inside to see Lincoln. And of course, his gaze is still watching over Washington DC, just like the Jefferson Memorial has Jefferson keeping an eye on the Capital.






















A view from the bottom of the monument.
















View from the steps...much of what MLK would've seen as he delivered his speech.

















Once again, by 7pm, I was exhausted! I was supposed to go on a DC by Dark tour Friday night, but I knew if I wanted to have any energy for walking around the exhibit hall at ALA, I had better rest up. So I headed back to the hotel for Chinese food and Moonstruck on tv. Couldn't ask for more.

Saturday at the Washington Convention Center for ALA with Rebecca, Miranda, and Sumayyah was AWESOME!!! Then I left on a 11am flight on Sunday. So, it was a pretty whirlwind trip, but I'm so glad I went, and I got to see as much as I did.