When not writing, read.

One of the tips often given to newbie writers is to read widely, especially in the genre you want to write. It’s always important to see what’s out there already.

Fortunately, the category in which I primarily write, Young Adult, especially Young Adult Contemporary, is also one I absolutely love to read. When I scan through Twitter I see book bloggers mentioning a site called NetGalley. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a “book blogger” yet – I do have another blog solely dedicated to YA novels BUT it was inactive for years – I checked out NetGalley on Monday to see how to qualify to get my eager hands on ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of books I could review for my revived site (sharemyya.wordpress.com, if you’re interested).

Imagine my total surprise that when registering for NetGalley, THEY HAVE AN EDUCATOR CATEGORY! I’M AN EDUCATOR!!! So excited was I! I signed up and immediately browsed through for titles I might want to read. And I have been SO pleased each day this week to get an email from a publisher granting me access to the books I’d like to read. I have half a dozen books to read now, while I’m waiting for my writing brain to percolate its ideas.

Reading and writing go hand in hand. While it’s absolutely possible to read without being a writer, it’s much more difficult to be a writer without reading.

So go forth and read! My book blog relaunched on February 1 and a new book is reviewed each Friday. Please check it out!


I admit it – I have not been writing.

My manuscript is out on sub to publishers.  I have a completed manuscript ready to revise behind it.  And a third manuscript almost halfway through the writing process.

But I haven’t written much of anything since mid-November.  I didn’t even finish NaNoWriMo last year.

I don’t know what the problem is.  I never used to have a problem writing.  Or making time to write.  But lately, I have a mini-notebook full of potential story ideas, a few online files with notes on potential story ideas, and I’M NOT WRITING.

Just wanted to vent.  Not sure what to do about this (other than write, of course).

Oh my god, I SUCK

Seriously.  I last posted a blog in MAY?

Summer was a blur.  I teach high school for a living, and once June arrives, man, I’m DONE.  Although I did manage to play Camp NaNoWriMo in July, and wrote a really crappy first draft of an adult romance novel.  The good thing about crappy drafts is they can be polished in revision.  Yay, revision!

Wait, did I seriously just say that?  I hate revision.

November 1 is right around the corner.  Like Thursday.  And I’ve been waffling on NaNoWriMoing this year or not.  I have a lot on my plate – in addition to the high school gig, I took on an adjunct professor position at the local community college. I teach ENC 1101 two nights a week (and love it)!  So I have two fewer nights to exercise, rest, and oh, yeah, WRITE.

What I will likely do then, is bend the NaNo rules a little.  I have a WIP that’s about 12000 words.  I may simply shoot for finishing that novel that’s been languishing for a couple of years now.  I love the concept but the plot isn’t coming together the way I wanted it to.  So maybe what I need is to power through, write, as Anne Lamott says, the Shitty First Draft, and then figure out the rest in revision.

I used to think writing was so easy.  The ideas come easy, for me.  Finishing?  Totally another story.  My favorite companion always tells me everything is about discipline.

I suck at discipline.

But sometimes, you need to bust your own ass to get things done, or they remain nothing but dreams forever.

Hello, November – I’m finishing my WIP in you!

Life Gets in the Way

This is a writing blog, but two things happened this week that I really wanted to talk about.  The first is the #metoo movement that spurred Lin Oliver and the SCBWI to shore up their harassment policy, and the second is the Parkland school shooting.

I saw the School Library Journal article in which women finally started naming names of those they were harassed by at various conferences and meetings of SCBWI.  And it hurt my heart.  A couple of the names shared were authors I’d previously respected, whose works I’d read and shared with my students, and one I’d even met and was friends with on Facebook (I unfriended him when the news broke and was backed up by multiple victims, though he staunchly denies it still).  I went back in my head to all the conferences I’d attended, and tried to think of any time in my professional life – as a writer, a teacher, or in the Corporate America jobs I held before teaching – I had felt sexually harassed by anyone.  I couldn’t think of any.  For anyone who doesn’t know me personally, I stand 6’1” in bare feet, and I’m a person “of size.” (a pretty euphemism for clinically obese.)  Perhaps it’s the intimidation factor that kept me protected from the harassment felt by other women.  I’m often told I can be intimidating. And if that’s the case, I’m thankful.  But I stand with all of my fellow SCBWI members who are victims, and I’m glad they finally feel brave enough to shout down their victimizers.

While I was thinking about this, and how I wanted to address it from a personal standpoint, I got a text message driving home after school on Wednesday from a friend in the next county asking if I was okay, as the news was reporting a school shooting in my county.  I live a few miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  The school at which I teach is maybe twelve miles from MSD.  And though I am grateful that I didn’t personally know any of the murdered victims, my heart hurts.  I can’t focus or concentrate.  Because as I just told the few students who came to school today, two days post-tragedy, when it happens in your backyard, it becomes more REAL.  I sympathized with victims’ families of every school shooting from Columbine forward, but in my heart, I don’t think I ever believed it could happen HERE.  And the fact that it not only DID happen here, and at the LAST school in the district you would expect it COULD happen to, makes it a real possibility that someday, I might have to decide whether to defend my students with my own life.

That is NOT anything any teacher should have to do.

I took a Facebook break yesterday because I was getting very angry at people who kept saying gun control wasn’t the problem, mental illness isn’t the problem, and blaming this boy’s actions on the fact that the “system let him down.”  Poor baby was probably bullied, many who had never met this boy declared on social media.  And yet, reports from people who DID know him were AFRAID of him.  Who’s AFRAID of a victim?

I don’t have the answers, and I wish I did.  But I really wish the armchair quarterbacking would stop.  I wish we lived in a country in which we value our children’s lives more than we value the 2nd Amendment and our faulty interpretation of it.  But we don’t, so I will have to keep on doing what I do – trying to care for all my students in the best way I can, and hope I continue to live another day to keep entering my classroom to educate my babies.

Thanks for reading my rambling today.  I’ll go back to writing about writing next time.

Just a blog . . .

So I was thinking that, as a writer, newly agented and one step closer to actually finding a book with my name on the spine in a local bookstore, that it might behoove me to have a blog.  Adding a bit to my social media presence, if you will.  I am a high school teacher by trade, finishing my Master of Arts degree in English, and I just signed a contract with Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary to represent my manuscript.

I’m setting this up while my Advanced Placement students are arguing over sample argument prompts, so I will drop in here again to really get started later.  But for now, welcome to my blog.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.