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 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.


and #2

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.

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 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

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.