30 April 2011

May is for Writing!

Here it is, my writing tracker for the month of May!  It's not the best of pictures, but you get the idea.  A few weeks ago, I said my goal was to write 2k words a day.  The important part of this is that I had a tangible goal, something specific I could strive toward.  It wasn't important that I actually write two thousand words each and every day.  That's a lot.  It was important I sit down and write.  For the couple of weeks I kept that up I actually wrote between 1,500 and 1,800 words, which I was very proud of.  My WIP is now up to 31k.

Back to May and my writing tracker.  One of my favorite things to play, when I was little, was being a teacher.  My parents gave me white board markers and sent me to a window or mirror where I would happily color.  I brought this back about a month ago and took to writing reminders for myself on my bathroom mirror.  This morning, I decided to use the smaller medicine mirror in the bathroom to keep a log of my writing, per day.  My goal for the month of May is to finish my WIP by writing at least 1,300 words a day.  I really just want to get the ideas out.  I can use June for all sorts of fun (err...) editing.

Happy writing!

26 April 2011

Near Death Experience

Have you ever almost died?  Or thought you were about to?

Cale tells me my car accident was pretty bad.  I'm not convinced, but then again, I don't remember much of those days.

I'm not talking about that kind of experience, the experience that leaves you scarred, but the one you jump up from exhilarated, with adrenaline rushing through your veins.

Like the one Cale had this weekend.  He (motivated by his crazy friend) decided it'd be a great idea to go kayaking during a lul in a storm.  Bad idea, especially when it started hailing golf balls and a tornado formed in front of them...

And I'm referring to the one I had last night.

I flew back from  Mississippi yesterday after being home in Minnesota for Easter.  My flights took me from Minneapolis to Atlanta, and then to Memphis where Cale would pick me up.  Unfortunately, we had to take a quick pit stop in between Atlanta and Memphis in Huntsville, AL.  We were rerouted because of bad weather because we didn't have enough fuel to take us around the storm brewing around Memphis.  Back into the air we went, and I decided to take a nap.

With forty minutes left in the flight, I was jolted awake by sickening turbulence and the sound of a woman crying somewhere behind me.  The window to my right revealed lightning and billowing clouds.  For the rest of the rocky flight my hands were clasped tightly together and I resorted to...writing.  In my mind, I watched scene's unfold of other passengers lives...

I wrote what had happened to the woman with dreads earlier in the day and why she was going to Memphis.  I jotted down notes about the woman next to me who kept turning her light out for thirty seconds, only to turn it on again to read for a few minutes, and then repeat the process.
Mental notes were jammed into folders in my head about the Asian girl who kept invading the space of the boy in front of me who wouldn't stop farting.

Ten times over, I rewrote this blog post, as if it were a prayer or mantra.

My eyeballs were literally glued to the window and was shocked when the overhead lights popped on for an instant.  When they turned back off, I returned to the window, relieved I could see the flickering lightning below us.  With the lights off, creativity flowed and an entire novel burst into existence.

Will I ever write it?  Heck no!  The idea of writing a story about people's lives before they crash in a plane is way to terrifying for me to journey there for months on end until it would be finished.

I may not write that story, but it was still amazing to experience the joy of pure creativity, even if it was inspired by the thought of something dreadful happening.

Finally, at two in the morning, I landed safely in Memphis, completely thrilled at being alive.

What did I learn?  Writing is survival.  My brain resorts to stories in times of stress and it unburdens me.

What does your brain automatically do when you are under stress?

My suggestion: turn off the lights, look out the window at the coming storm, and give your mind the freedom to do what it does best.

24 April 2011

Happy Easter!

I am in the in between moment of the day.  We've just gone to church and are preparing to leave for Grandma's in an hour.  Mom is running an errand, Katie's taking a nap, Dad is still at church, and I am sitting at the table, writing.

I love Easter.  I love this beautiful sunshiny 69 degree day (Minnesota in the spring-time is utterly breathtaking.  Mississippi is starting to become humid and hot, so it's a nice break to be here for a bit).  I love my family and how they remind me to laugh hard and be at peace.  I LOVE the music at church- the brass ensemble and the amazing choirs.  I especially love that tiny bells are handed out to kids to ring whenever the word 'Alleluia' is spoken or sang.  I love our family's tradition of making Ukrainian Easter eggs and I love the candied ham loaves Mom makes.

Happy Easter everyone.  Enjoy the beauty of the day.  I'm going to go play the piano to celebrate.

Best. Holiday.

21 April 2011

Thankful Thursday!

From Oasis for YA: Topic this week: Quotes. Do you have a favorite quote? Something that inspires you each time you read it or instill a sense of calm, peace, and assurance?
I just read two great posts on keeping the faith and not quitting, even when things feel tough and goals seem unreachable.  The first by Gabi Lessa and the second by Angela.  Both of these wonderful ladies helped remind me not to feel glum and to keep working away, because quitting or feeling blue just isn't worth it.

So, on that note, here's my quote:

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
-Lance Armstrong

18 April 2011


It is very bittersweet when my students pass the GED test.  Some students are ready after a month of class, but others are here for much longer.  There is no set schedule for how long a student must stay with us.  When they are ready, they are ready.  There aren't semesters, trimesters, or vacations.  We work year round with all levels of students.

When my students walk out of my door for the last time, before taking the test, I think to myself, "I hope I don't have to see you again!"  (And not because I'm a mean, horrible teacher).  If I don't see them again, it means they've passed.  If they come back, it means we have more to work on.

Rometta just called to say thank you for my help (she passed the test a couple weeks ago).  I don't often hear back from students, but when I do, it makes my heart glow :)

17 April 2011


Alright, it's time I stop protrastinating with posting my query.  Here it is, please feel free to critique in any way you would like.

Twelve year old Rupert lives with stern Aunt Miriam, while his parents sail around the world.  At school, he is tortured by Bobby the Bully and his pet rat, Scamper.  Rupert survives his aunt's controlling ways and Bobby’s freaky gray rat by escaping into the imaginary worlds of books and his favorite sport, baseball.

A simple errand to his neighbor’s house reveals the very thing he hasn't dreamed up is exactly what is true: make-believe creatures come to life in his next door neighbor's house.  With the help of a new friend, Petra, Rupert uncovers the secrets of Mr. Applebee’s mysterious house.  The only problem is that Mr. Applebee refuses to let Rupert help, even when an evil pirate sneaks out of Imagination World with the goal of escaping the house.

Pi-Rat threatens to unleash all imaginary creatures into the real world.  Rupert knows if he can’t stop Pi-Rat the world will forever be changed.  In his quest, Rupert learns to trust friends, keep secrets, uncover the truth, and become the confident adventurer of which he had only previously dreamed.

RUPERT REGINALD ROBINSON THE NINTH & THE MYSTERIOUS HOUSE NEXT DOOR is complete at 23k words.  It is a short, middle-grade chapter book that could be expanded into a series, but does stand alone.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

15 April 2011

Pitch Contest with Natalie Fischer

I've entered the pitch contest with Natalie Fischer on YAtopia and thought you all might be interested in my two sentence pitch.  I highly suggest for every one of you to join the contest!


Genre: middle-grade

2 Sentence Pitch:  Rupert lives in his imagination to escape his stern Aunt Miriam and the bully who tortures him at school.  A simple errand to his neighbor’s house reveals the very thing he hasn't dreamed up is exactly what is true: make-believe creatures come to life in his next door neighbor's house. 

Opening sentence:  Rupert Reginald Robinson clutched a thick book to his chest; his forehead rested against the glass of the backseat car window. 

I'm going to post my query here in the next couple days.  I would love it if you all would come back and tear it to pieces...by that, I mean give me amazing constructive critiques that will make it amazing!

11 April 2011

Secrets We Tell

I've heard many times, that we need to write what we know, not what we think we should write about.  This usually means we end up writing about personal experiences, people in our lives, and our dreams.  And this means we constantly tell secrets about ourselves, even if we don't know it or intend to.

Rupert and Petra are complete opposites just like Cale and me.  Ann's anxiety was birthed after my car accident.  She also runs because of the joy I felt when I was finally able to run a mile again.  Farrah is confident and outspoken because I was very shy and introverted in middle school.  In 'Taught by Sister' the older sister pushes the younger sister up a hill, saves her from drowning and a tornado, because I wouldn't have any clue what to do in life without my sister.  Samantha refuses to be called Sam because I hate it when people call me Julia instead of Juliana.

I often wonder how many secrets writers give away knowingly, and unknowingly, in their writing.

I am 20k into my new WIP while I work on the last edits for Rupert (I know, I know- there is no such thing as last edits).  I have the goal to write 2k words a day and am very excited to see what I discover about myself while I write.

07 April 2011

The Writing Community

Sophia's post has inspired me, particularly her comments about how welcoming and supportive the writing community is.  I had written a first novel and knew writing was something I wanted to pursue and decided to take the leap into blogging and joining twitter.  At some point in those months (I say that like I don't remember the exact moment, which in fact I do.  Here's the blog post: The First Paragraph), Sophia commented on my post.  It was a huge turning point for me, some random stranger had commented on my blog and ended up wanting to be critique partners.

I am not a naturally competitive person.  I feel bad when sports teams lose, even when I'm cheering for a particular team.  I love games but constantly wish everyone could tie.  And I really dislike working really hard for something and still not winning or doing well, especially when there are other people I am competing against.  Those reasons must be why I quit sports after 7th grade and joined choir and did musicals instead.  I adore the writing community for some of these exact same reasons, everyone is so darn welcoming and supportive.  Strangers comment on blog posts and offer what help then can.  Big shot writers add you on twitter and offer advise.  Some may give you harsh critiques, but I haven't yet encountered anyone who tells others to quit writing entirely, they always say to keep learning and work hard.

How often do we have the chance to belong to a community as wonderful as this?