Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blogging Break

Though I will be hosting the #wipmadness Peeps every Monday for the month of November, that is all the blogging I'll be doing this month.

In honor of all you Nano'ers, I'm going to take a mini-step away from the computer and focus back in on writing and real world for a bit. I'll be back making the rounds next month!

And if you'd like to join in our #wipmadness support network of writers, please join us here, Mondays in November, and on Twitter.

See you in December!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Brief Political Rant

Campaign Finance Reform. Candidates should be allowed to raise X amount of dollars, and that is it. This morning I heard that our two presidential candidates have raised well over 100 million dollars each.

I have children at my school who only eat when they are under our roof.
I have children at my school who don't own a book.
I have children at my school who have never owned a new item of clothing or a new pair of shoes.

This financial fuckery is out of control. And it pisses me off. Excuse my language.

I wish I knew how to create the change needed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Random Tuesday - Five Random Things

  1. A trusted CP got an exciting e-mail today. Every since I found out I've been squealing.
  2. I'm in the process of booking a photographer to do professional author photos. She's amazing, check out her work here: 
  3. I've lost 6 pounds since September 1st and I'm still going strong. Somebody in the grocery store said I looked like I'd lost weight. Awesome. (note: I'm not a super heavy person, just battling middle-age bulge)
  4. It's fall here in the mountains and the leaves are stunning.
  5. My new puppy is settling in and is the total light of my life - she sleeps in the bed every night.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Beauty of Simplicity

Today I had the honor of attending the wedding of a former student. I taught this young man when he was in 5th and 6th grade, became close friends with his mom, then went on to teach his brother for another three years. This is a special family.

The groom hasn't had an easy time of growing up. He made some BIG mistakes in high school that had everyone who knew and loved him, a lot worried. But he persevered. After graduating early, he knew he didn't want to go to college. He thought about flight school but it didn't work out. At a loss, he decided to go to South Africa and teach surfing. That didn't work out but he did end up working at a school in Capetown. This is where he met the love of his life. The bride was the daughter of the head of school.

It's been interesting hearing their story. First, the groom is still pretty young. 19 or 20 tops. And, honestly, none of us figured he'd be the first to settle down. Second though, is just how scandalous this was in South Africa. We think things are still segregated over here, but apparently, it's a real "thing" when a white marries a colored (the bride's word, not mine) over there. They've decided to live here for that reason. But third, and the best part, is just how happy they both are.

Their wedding took place under a simple arch next to a mountain trout river. It was pot luck and the grill fired with chicken and ribs. People took walks through the campground and gathered in front of a fire in the big fireplace (it was in the mid 50's but cooler next to the river).  When I think about the heaps of money people spend on such events and compare it with the wholesome, warm simplicity of today's event, there's no comparison to me. Friends and family are what makes a wedding.

So enjoy! My cell phone doesn't take great pictures, but you'll get the idea.
The groom and his brother wait. 
The bride and her parents (who traveled from Capetown!).

Family gathered close. 
It was a simple Friends Meeting type ceremony

Nature made her presence known - I take this as an approval sign!

Too cold for the swimming hole.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Small Town Saturday

Yesterday we had a small main street Heritage Festival and I got to hang out with my art club all day. Hope you enjoy this picture essay of life out here in Appalachia!
The art club booth - a free kid's activity - and a donation jar for our field trip.

We joined forces with a local craft school who did this handmade paper butterfly craft.

Mine are the sharpie'd toes - but my student's black ones have John Green's signature on the toe!

A portable blacksmith's forge.

Monarch butterflies drying in the sun.
Katniss made an appearance.

Former students getting their freaky fun on!
The DAV was out in full force.

The animal rescue was out - this was too classic!

What's a festival without funnel cakes?

The 4-H brought out some critters.

Perfect. The twang of a mandolin and the rush of a coal car passing by.

If you look close into those mirrored shades, you might see me.

Boys do love their train engines.

I found it ironic that the Domestic Violence coalition was sponsoring a haunted tent. Maybe that's just me? But there was a lot of screaming going on.

This fellow was giving mule rides for $2.

Back of a pick up is the perfect place to sell your molasses.

The Fire & Rescue used their boot as a napkin paper weight! Too classic.

Hope you enjoyed this journey through my little town's festival!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Starting Over

This week I did something I thought I'd never do.
I took 38,000 words and put them to the side.
I opened up a brand new file and started again.

Same characters, same theme of grief, healing, and finding yourself separate from your parents.
Originally I had it set in suburban Maryland.
Now the setting is split between suburban Georgia and Costa Rica.

Why, you might ask, would you throw away 38,000 perfectly fine words?

Because of this.

Words Are Cheap.

Yep, I can write new ones and with a clearer direction, they'll hopefully end up how they're supposed to, weaving and knitting and drawing a story that not only has pretty language, but tells a tale.

What about you? Have you ever taken a sharp detour while writing and had to park the car, get out a map, and start over again? Did you bemoan the loss of the roads left behind?

Talk to me!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Bit More of the Dream Story - When it's Slow it's slow, but when it's not it ZOOMS!

First off, I just want to say thank you. THANK YOU! The outpouring of congratulations and way-to-go's and we-knew-its has been awe inspiring. Me? All this, for me? For my words? It's truly a dream come true.

Some of you may remember this spring, when I posted this.

And then, lo and behold, I got to post this.

And now, to get to post that I've sold not only one book, but two. Whoa. Amazing. But the story is good, too, and I want to share the pertinent details because it's a bit like a fairy tale, and I have to remind myself that up until this manuscript -this moment - my publishing path has been rocky. I'm one of those overnight success stories who had five manuscripts before this one.

So here goes. If you recall, I was in the fortunate and anxiety-ridden spot of having to choose between brilliant agents. When I'd made my final call and the dust settled, my agent sent me an e-mail from an editor who'd introduced herself to my agent like this - "I had lunch today with an agent who was bemoaning the loss of a client to you and said I absolutely had to be in touch about the manuscript." Pretty cool, right? I didn't know agents did that for each other.

After my agent returned from traditional August vacation to work it was only a few days before I noticed an editor had followed me on Twitter. Whoa. An editor! Following me?

I DM'ed my agent. "Um, there's an editor from Harper Collins stalking me on Twitter." I got an immediate DM back. "She loves your book. So Exciting!" That's how I found out I was on sub. I'd asked to know nothing and nothing I knew. Then I saw Harper Collins IP addresses showing up on my tracker for blog and website and I started to have full frontal freak-outs.

Then my agent e-mailed with an "I've got fun news when can we talk?" e-mail. Um. Now. Like five minutes ago, please.

The editor wanted to talk to me to see if we agreed on revisions and I think just to see if we got along. That's how I ended up having a lovely conversation with Sarah Dotts-Barley during my planning period one day. Mostly we talked about books we loved, the fact that her sister and I went to the same summer camp, and  a little bit about my book and her ideas. But it was SO EASY. After our phone call, I really hoped my book would end up with Sarah. (Even if she is an Alabama fan and I'm an Auburn fan)

I won't get into all the nitty-gritty details of subbing and negotiations because a) it's my agent's biz and b)it's my agent's biz, but I ended up with a 2 book-deal with Harper Teen in the hands of an editor who is wild about my book. All in about 3 1/2 weeks. (You are awesome Alexandra Machinist!)

It's awesome. Totally awesome. And I'm so glad y'all have been here for the journey with me. Big hugs. Big love. Big gratitude. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Yeah, So this......

Publisher's Marketplace makes it official.




Will update with the gritty details soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm a little Nutty. A Dog Story.

So the first of the Nuts wasn't a nut at all, but a Clyde. He was a standard wire-haired dachshund, part of a pair that my uncle bred (he brought a breeding pair back from his time in Germany) - Bonnie and Clyde. Unfortunately, Bonnie had to be re-homed because she was snappish with little people. And as you can see, I was a little people at the time. I had Clyde until the summer I went away to camp in about 5th grade. I came home to a house without Clyde and was devastated. He was my first heart dog.
Me and Clyde

Then, fresh out of college, I got my very own dog. A friend had adopted a female stray who promptly gave birth to 3 pups. I chose the runt and he became Peanut. I had Peanut for 10 years, from single life to married life to divorced life to finding my soulmate. When I lost him, a part of me went, too.
Peanut looking rather guilty about something.

But then in the spring of 2010, this face came across the Facebook page of a nearby animal shelter.
Hazel (nut) was feral, but I adopted her anyway. She took six months to learn to trust but became the happiest little dog ever. Last spring, she got into something toxic along with my big boxer/hound mix. He made it, but her little body wasn't up to the task. Again. Crushed.
Hazel was on a leash for a long time learning to be near humans.
So, being nutty and missing my little scruffy dog that I always seem to need in my life, I started poking around the internet. And I came across this face. You're beginning to see my pattern, right?

I'm so excited to introduce you to the fourth of my scruffy black and tan mixes. The lovely and petite, Coco (nut) - I'm guessing she's a Schnackillon. (Schnauzer, Jack Russell, Papillon). She has Schnauzer scruff, Papillon radar ears, and a wiggly waggly tail. I'm totally in love already. And you can see she's making herself right at home!
Coco loves the bed already!

Anybody else have a series dog problem?