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!