Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Madness (#wipmadness) - Day 31 Check-in - aka YOU MADE IT!!!!

Here we are, the end of March, the finish line for our crazy good writing time together.

Was it everything you expected? Was it more? Was it less? Regardless of your personal outcome, if you're still here, checking in on this final day of the month, YOU HAVE MADE IT!  It's time for cupcakes, or margaritas, or your favorite flavor of chocolate, or whatever your fancy is. Celebrate your awesomeness.

Don't forget, for the month of April, we'll be checking in once a week with Mary Ann (@ghostgirlwrites) at Haunting the Broken Tree. Look for twitter updates and join us.  Last year was my first year joining Denise in her brain child of March Madness. I kept up with the #wipmadness hashtag through the year, hosted a month, and made friends, not to mention a whole lot of writing progress. You are all amazing friends on this journey.

And we wouldn't have a final day without a winner. Today's winner is:

Carol Garvin

Carol, you have a choice from the following items. Just e-mail Denise at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com for your preference and your mailing address.

UNRAVELING ISOBEL by Eileen Cook (Courtesy of Shari Green)
OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL by K.M. Weiland (2 e-copies up for grabs!) (Courtesy of Deb Marshall)
And our awesome Kim Baccellia has donated another ARC: THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer Smith (US mailing only)

As we close out our month, anything you'd like to share about your experience?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Memories of High School You - Jeanne Ryan

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion and music have changed but that overall quest-for-self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.
Jeanne's Debut Cover - Click here for Goodreads information

This week I'm so excited to interview Jeanne Ryan, author of the 2012 debut, NERVE. Jeanne is a member of my online crit group, an active blueboarder, and a member of our #wipmadness crew on Twitter. She has an insightful eye as a critique partner and always has excellent chapters for us to read. So without further ado, please meet high school Jeanne!
Jeanne! You still look the same!

Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location?
I attended three schools my freshman year, beginning with an American school in Seoul and finally landing in a large suburban school outside of Detroit. It was a jarring transition since the overseas school was very well integrated and diverse, while the Michigan school of about 2000 kids was almost 100% white and very preppy. 

Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
Yeah, we had the usual suspects, Jocks, Burnouts, Brains, and everything in between. I mostly hung out with kids from choir, which is odd considering I don’t sing well. But I liked theater and figured that learning to sing would help. (Note, unlike with my writing, dedicated practice did not yield dramatic results.)
Practicing her singing.

Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
My most memorable teacher was Mr. Button, who taught journalism. I was a kid who mostly went under the radar. But when I missed the deadline to apply for a position on our award-winning paper, he pulled me aside for a little talk about my writing ability, and then accepted me onto the staff without an application. It was the first time I felt “seen” by a teacher for something positive. To me, that "seeing" of students is the crux of being a good teacher, especially at the high school level.

Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to write, but it took me a long time to become serious about it. Oddly, the only other occasions when I was singled out in school were from writing professors in college. You think I would’ve taken the hint, but I travelled many detours before rediscovering my passion for writing during a period of crisis.

What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
Mostly I read whatever my mom had around house—historical fiction, suspense, women’s drama (now, my own kid borrows from my YA collection—ha!). One book I discovered on my own and loved was House of Stairs by William Sleater. It’s about a group of teens who find themselves in a mysterious environment of seemingly endless flights of stairs that don’t lead anywhere. It’s a fascinating story of mind control whose message has stuck with me many years later. Oooh, thanks! One for the TBR pile.

What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember?
Hmm, dating myself here, but I liked Queen and David Bowie. I was partial to a rock station in Detroit which had a brainy, fun DJ, who also happened to give a talk I attended for female journalism students. I was shocked a decade later, after I moved back to the states from Europe, to discover that that same DJ had relocated to New York and become a huge shock jock—Howard Stern. Wow, that's really interesting, sounds like he changed a lot.

What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
I work a lot of scarves, eye shadow and earrings, none of which I wear today. I loved my black Mary-Janes and still love Mary-Janes, even though my husband teases me when I wear them. 

What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today?
I ran track, played piano, did some local theater, and painted god-awful pictures. They didn’t influence my writing much except to provide telling details when I have a character who does any of those things, e.g., the main character of my novel NERVE works on the theater crew.

Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
Mostly a good kid, which meant that when I wasn’t, no one suspected anything. 

Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word?
If I did, I don’t remember it. I probably said ‘actually’ way too often. Still do, actually.

If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
Speak up for yourself! Especially around the mean kids. 

Thinking of the characters you’ve written, is there one who embodies more of your high school self than others? What attributes do you have in common? Differences?
Yes, the character in my WIP, a brainy girl who’s terribly shy and decides to do something drastic about it. Well, since I "know" the character of which you speak, this is extra special that you joined us here - two thumbs up for coming out of your shy shell and sharing your teen experience.

How do we find you now? 
Most of the usual places:
Thanks, Jaye! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The A to Z of Appalachia - April Blog Challenge

I've taken the plunge and signed up for the A-Z April Blog Challenge. I've been working away and have my posts, A-M, ready to go. Still half the alphabet left, but I'll get there.

With posts like C is for Commuting on a Crooked Road, H is for Hit and Holler, M is for woMan versus Mudbug and P is for Post-It's and Peeping Toms, you might want to stop in.

I'm keeping my posts short and sweet, usually with photos, illustrations, or anecdotal stories. Occasionally I'll sprinkle in a video or recording if you want to know a little more about the subject matter. Looking forward to getting to know you all in April!

For more information, check out Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Madness (#wipmadness) Check-In Day 24

I heard a great quote on the radio yesterday and thought of March Madness participants.

You are not defeated until you quit.

So, you may not make your original goal, and you may feel like you wished you could have gotten in a few more words, or another blog post, or another book review, but if you did not quit, you are golden!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So, with one week left, how are you doing? Do you need to modify your original goals? Or are you sailing through with all of the help and encouragement you've received?

Me, I'll be checking in periodically but I'm off to the city for most of the day to take care of that pesky grey hair and to watch The Hunger Games. Have a great weekend Wipsters!!

Edited to Add: The Hunger Games was great. It was fascinating to see what they left out and I really thought about how screenwriting must be a lot like picture book writing. So much is left from the actual dialogue and portrayed through sets, costuming, and body language. As a big fan of the book, I was pleased. I also like that Jennifer Lawrence is not a teensy-tiny little waif. She actually has a bottom and a shape which is nice to see as role model for young women. I came close to crying at the Reaping Scene and when Rue died. In addition, the trailer for the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp movie, Dark Shadows, was really fun and now I have another movie I'm excited about.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hunger Games Madness in WNC

It's here, finally here. The book that started slowly burning a few years ago is now a full-fledged inferno and western North Carolina is at the center of the maelstrom.  At my school, we have a few extras in the film, including this student standing to the left of Gale in the reaping scene. (Hey, Jake!)

Around school you find students frantically doing this:

So that they can go to this:

In Asheville, there's a ton of buzz in the papers and blogosphere. Here's a link to all the information.

Rumor has it that the 12-plex is devoting 8 of its screening rooms to The Hunger Games on Thursday night at midnight. Here's a quote from

Charlotte and Asheville are both going to be privy to special screenings for the movie, as both cities were host to scenes in the movie. There will be midnight showings and some invitation only screenings. There will be an invite only show at the Biltmore Grand Stadium 15 (one of the nicest movie theaters in the area) and Fandango has been selling out tickets to all the surrounding theaters. Over six theaters have been sold out, leaving only one theater with seats still available.

So, did you love it or leave it? Seeing the movie? Opening weekend? My plans are to see it on Saturday and personally, I can't wait. I raced through all three books during the snowy winter of 2011 and have since reread the first book. They're just. so. good.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

March Madness (#wipmadness) Check-In Day 17

First off, for all you Irish folks out there, Happy St. Patrick's Day! But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about teenagers. Many of you #wipmadness folks are writing for teens and they are an interesting bunch. Funny, mischievous, frustrating, there are many more words to describe them. So in an art project this fall, I asked them to describe themselves with three words in an art piece that involved layering with gesso and paint. They had to choose a color palette and design that matched their words. Many used a thesaurus to dig deeper. Here are three examples and I'll tell you a bit about the kids.

Freaky, Funky, Electric
Red-headed senior boy. Funny. The prom king but not in the normal way you'd expect. A big fan of dubstep music (today's rave culture fave). Wrestler. Tobacco chewer. Tall and Skinny. Everybody loves him. Knows how to flirt with all of his teachers and endear himself completely. He's not sure what he wants to do when he leaves school.

Impuslive, Fallacious, Obstreperous
 This girl is a sophomore. Loud. Opinionated. Cute in a quirky way. Knows what she likes and doesn't give a rat's rear end what other people think. Loves to watch Skins and Portlandia, she turned me on to both. Owns a chihuahua. Loves to think and dig deep and her words fit her 100%. Wants to go to a four year college for art. Lucky me gets her for Art 2 and 3 next year. Did I say loud?

Mellow, Introspective, Effervescent
Gorgeous junior girl. Shy. Quiet. Carries a really big fashionable purse. Wears the colors she chose for this painting. Wants to be a model but doesn't know how to pursue it. Very country accent. Long hair and a tender, girlish voice. Loves shoes, and even though she's quite tall, wears heels to school. The boys drool.

So - here's your comment assignment. What three words would your main character use to describe him or herself? And are they right?

Hope your writing week was excellent and everyone stays safe in the week ahead. And don't forget to check in with Shari Green tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Memories of High School You - Denise Jaden

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion and music have changed but that overall quest-for-self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.

This week I'm so pleased to introduce Denise Jaden. Denise is not only on Verla Kay's Blue Boards, but is the mastermind behind our #wipmadness hashtag and March Madness which is happening NOW on her blog and others (including this one). So, it seemed entirely appropriate that for mid-March we learn a bit about the high school Denise.
Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location?
I was born and raised in the same town of Abbotsford, 125,000-ish population, about an hour out from Vancouver, Canada. I went to a pretty huge public high school – there were 560 in my grad class.
Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
Cliques weren’t as big in my high school as they seem to be today. There were the jocks and cheerleaders, of course, but it’s not like they shunned the rest of the student body. I was heavily involved with the theatre group at our school, participating with all the plays and a new group we created called Mimenastics.
Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
Yes, my drama teacher was my FAVORITE! He was very even-keel and encouraging during the tumultuous world of teen-dom. I hear he’s retiring this year. Maybe I’ll drop off a book… (I bet he would LOVE to see you!)
Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
Oh goodness no. In high school I did everything I could to avoid reading and writing.
What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
As I said above, I tried to avoid reading at all costs. I remember watching the movie of The Outsiders to get out of reading the book – that’s how serious I was about my anti-reading agenda. (That is such a cool story, and probably a real inspiration to the students you talk to at school visits)
What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember?
I’ve always had eclectic music tastes. In high school I loved Van Halen and Michael Jackson, among many others. Definitely an album/cassette girl. (There's a Christmas photo of me somewhere smiling broadly with a Van Halen album in my hand)
Rocker Denise 
What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
Loved my jeans. And I really liked half-tops (I know, I know). You might have found me in a pair of leg warmers once or twice, but other than that, I wasn’t a big follower of trends.
What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today?
I’ve been a dancer since I was barely walking, mostly Polynesian dance, and now I’ve been teaching and performing professionally for several years. I keep thinking about writing a book about a dancer, but it hasn’t come to pass yet.
Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
A bit of both. I did a pretty good job of playing the part of the good kid, but I was drinking and smoking and getting into mischief at a fairly early age.
Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word?
No way!
Who was your bestie?  Your frenemy?  Your sworn enemy?  Did you ever have one that switched to another?  Why?
My best friend was a girl named Melanie, whom I’d known since I was a baby. I still see her regularly (she takes Polynesian dance classes). Frenemy…I’m not sure exactly what that is, but I’d have to say my friend Steven. He was fun and hilarious, but he tended turn on people easily. (Never, thankfully, on me.) I’ve never really had a sworn enemy, thank heavens. I can only handle conflict in my fiction!
If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
Relax! Nobody spends nearly as much time thinking about you as you may imagine.
How do we find you now? 
I’m also on Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumbler, all under Denise Jaden, but you’ll probably find me most often on Twitter, where I love to hang out and procrastinate—I mean chat!
Thanks Jaye! (Thanks for stopping by!)
Denise's lastest novel is scheduled to be released in July 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

The A-Z Challenge and a Thank you

Today, #wipmadness friend, Linda Jackson, awarded me with the Leibster award.
Since I just tagged a bunch of folks in a different post, I'm not going to pass this along (unless you'd like it, then just raise your hand).

But I will tell you about the A-Z challenge which I was encouraged to participate in. For the month of April, every day save Sunday, you post alphabetically on the topic or theme of your choice. It sounds like fun and I'm going to highlight the area of Appalachia where I live. So if you're interested in blogging almost daily during the month of April, steal this icon square and follow the link for more information and to officially sign up. See you April 1st. No fooling.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March Madness (#wipmadness) Day 10 Check-In

So, I'm combining two things in one. Yes, it is our 10th day of March and the second weekend in which to madly make up for the writing you missed during the week (if you have a day job like me!)

But it's also "I've Been Tagged" day. And these games of tag going round the Internet are kind of fun. And I thought it might be a good way to get to know some of this year's March Madness participants - especially the newbies.  So here's the deal.

I was tagged by Laura Barnes over at her blog, Laura B Writer. She gave me the choice of playing The Lucky 7 Meme, Answering her 10 Questions, or both. I chose both. Because that's how I roll. My job is to post my answers, then pick 7 of you to answer on your own blog.

So: The Lucky 7 Meme goes like this:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

Here's Mine (Please keep in mind this is pulled from a first draft):
“Ms. Vaughn.” 

How can a young teacher without reading glasses still manage to pull off the withering-look-down-the-bridge-of-the-nose? She arches one eyebrow. Perfect. I thought art teachers were supposed to be all laid-back and peace-and-love-baby like Mr. Cottrell. 

“Yes ma’am.” 

Cheerleader Amber doodles circles in the edges of her sketchbook watching us out of the corner of her eye. Kush looks down at the self-portrait they must have started Friday.

“You missed a significant amount of work on drawing facial features Friday. We also did a warm-up you will not receive credit for. Is that clear?”

And here are the ten questions and my answers.

1. What is your dream vacation?  I'm a bit of a pathetic homebody, but if I were fit enough, I read about a horseback safari in Africa where you actually ride with the wildlife. The information said you must be comfortable enough at any gait to ride away from danger should it be necessary.  It would be close to $10,000 with airfare so for now, it's still a dream.

2. Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead? With a farm, I tend to need to be a planner. Same with being a teacher. But I'm not frightened by spontaneity if someone will feed the horses for me!

3. Tell us one thing you want to do but don’t dare to do. See Number 1.

4. What's your biggest phobia? Snakes - yuck. Eek. Shiver.

5. If you were stranded on a desert island – what 3 things would you want with you (not including laptop, or family). Coffee, a sailboat, and a map to the nearest mainland. 

6. Name three blessings in your life.  A happy childhood, parents who believed in education, and my current 2 and 4-legged family.

7. What was your nickname in High School? Whomp. I wish I could explain. But it was my boyfriend and our mutual best guy friend who bestowed it. Perhaps I don't want to know why even now.

8. If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?
"Hi, I'm here for my ladies luncheon with the FLOTUS . She's expecting me."

9. If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be? I'd like to be Bonanza Jellybean from Tom Robbin's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.  Cutest Cowgirl West of the Pecos.  Or maybe Dumbledore.
Starting young with the cowgirl stuff - Me and my first horse, Josephine.

10. What is your favorite quote? Since I'm assuming I'm in polite company I won't quote my favorite Tom Robbin's line from the above book. But I'll go with a Harold and Maude quote - if you've never seen it, run out and Netflix it, a real gem.

Maude: I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They're so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be? 
Harold: I don't know. One of these, maybe. 
Maude: Why do you say that? 
Harold: Because they're all alike. 
Maude: Oooh, but they're *not*. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are *this*, 
[she points to a daisy
Maude: yet allow themselves be treated as *that*. 
[she gestures to a field of daisies

And now for the tagging!  And it's hard to choose, so I'm going to pull new Wipsters who posted responses last Saturday and have blogs or websites. And maybe you'll tag some of the others. Or not at all. You may be too busy writing and that's cool, too. But if you decide to play, be sure and leave us a link on the day you post at that day's check-in site!

5. Jeigh

So for the rest of you, leave a favorite quote, answer one of the questions, or tell me about your progress! I want to hear it all, because each of you is a daisy.

And don't forget to pop over tomorrow to Shari Green's blog for Sunday's Day 11 Check-In.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Surrounded by Sophomores - High School Tuesday

Most days I don't feel like Gerard from My Chemical Romance. But some days I do. Like when I've spent all day on a bus with tenth graders. Like today.

And since I'm not feeling particularly verbose or entertaining this evening, I'll let him do the work. Be warned, there's language. You've got to admit. The chorus is catchy. And I bet sometimes the teenagers scare the ++++ out of themselves.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March Madness Saturday Check-In Week One

These images sum up the month of March here in the Appalachian mountains. March is a cruel month. It teases you with daffodils and crocus. The little spiraea blossoms begin to start their bridal march up the driveway. Frogs croak from the pond and the wildlife emerges from their winter dens. But just like that, Mother Nature can decide she'd like one more week of winter, or she's having a hot flash and needs a blast of air conditioning. Do you take out your spring clothes or wait till April? March is the time to be flexible and accept what you are given, lion or lamb.

What's this have to do with the March Madness Writing-Blogging-Illustrating challenge? Our creativity can be fickle, some days blessing us with abundant sunshine, while other days subjecting us to bare frozen tundras. If we can accept the gift of plenty to make up for the days when we don't meet our goals, then it all evens out. Keep a sweater next to that cute new T-shirt and all will be fine.

Which of your characters comes into a room like a lion? And which one enters like a lamb?

My WIP has a working title of Through Hiker. I'd say cute boy Kush enters like a lamb. He's got some backstory that makes him this way and he's trying to wear the fleece to match. Will it work? Time will tell. My lion is my protagonist, Amber. She's discovered her inner I-am-woman-hear-me-rawr and boys, well let's just say, you better hold on to your Levis! But will she stay this way? Or will she leave like a lamb? That's the beauty of first drafts. You can be naughty and it doesn't matter, it might all end up on the editing room floor anyway.

I hope your goals are well on their way and I look forward to reading about all of the lions and lambs being created in #wipmadness land. - JRo

And don't forget tomorrow's check-in:
Sundays – Shari  Green will host at