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!!!


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!

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

VERDICT: 5 out of 5 Thumbs Up


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!!! :)