Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Best Book of November

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

What is the best book you've read in November?

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I didn't read much in November. (This has been a trend this year, sadly, but I have a PLAN to bust through my shelf in December.) But the best book I read was actually a bit of a surprise to me.

I knew I loved Lauren Oliver's writing, but I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy Liesl & Po, as it's more of a children's fantasy story...pretty out of my comfort zone. But oh man, this book was just so delightful. I absolutely adored grouchy, snippy ghost Po and its sweet little ghost pet Bundle. Oh, and little Will, such a cute little disaster. These characters were all so enchanting and reading this book was just so much fun. I think I smiled through the whole thing. 

I wish I had a younger kid in my life to read this book aloud to or with, because that's all I could think of while reading this..that it would be the perfect bedtime story! I can picture being all snuggled up in bed, admiring the gorgeous illustrations, and doing fun voices for all of the characters. Any of you with younger ones, this would be such a great Christmas gift for the young reader in your life, and a great book to share with a loved one. 

What's the best book you read this month?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Graceland

This past week I saw the movie Like Crazy with some of my friends. I love movies like this, movies about complicated relationships. One of the things the couple in the movie, Jacob and Anna, first bonds over is their mutual love of Paul Simon's Graceland album.

I've loved Paul Simon since I was a Tiny Jess. He was always playing in my house, whether it was his solo stuff or Simon and Garfunkel stuff, and I feel very lucky that I have seen him live twice now, once with Bob Dylan and once with Art Garfunkel, which is a show I never thought I would get to see.

Graceland came out when I was eight years old and, because it was my dad's new favorite album, it became mine, too. I knew all the songs and I would sing along, even to the African chanting noises. And the thing is, it has totally held up. I was prompted to pull it out and give it a listen after the movie and I have hardly turned it off since. I'm amazed by the quality of the songwriting (oh, to have written these lyrics!) and the creativity of the music and just the timelessness of the whole album. It's as close as you can get to perfect, IMO.

I was trying to figure out which song to feature on this post, but I couldn't decide, so here are my favorites from this beautiful and special classic album.

The Boy in the Bubble

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes


Under African Skies

Crazy Love Part II (This is the one that showed up in the movie several times)

And, of course, we've all see this video, right? Love it.
You Can Call Me Al

I'm tempted to just post a video for every single song on the album, I love it that much. Every song speaks to me, still. I think every music collection should have Graceland in it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday, Monday

Oh, Monday.

This Monday means back to work after a whole week off. And this week off was delightful.

Things I did this past week:

Slept in. A lot.
Took Christmas card photos on the beach with the fluffy boy
Here's an outtake

Tried to catch up on NaNo (I'm close)
Saw Like Crazy
Made my triumphant return to yoga
Took some naps
Had fat kid dinner with my parents
Hung out with my parents' dogs (who ripped my necklace off my neck, they were so excited)
Had Asian Thanksgiving dinner with the ILs
Read two books
Had mimosa pajama brunch with my girls

I love this picture

Saw two former (underage) students at a bar
Ignored my inbox
Lounged on the couch instead of Black Friday-ing

And that's about it.

The main focus has really been trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo. I made some major progress, and I still might finish, even after getting off to a rocky start. Just a few more days...I hope I can do it.

Now I have three (frantic) weeks of work and I have three GLORIOUS weeks off!

I hope all of you who celebrated had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I hope those of you who are participating are having a successful NaNoWriMo. And I hope everyone is having a fabulous Monday.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tangled Tides: Underwater Web War

It's a big day for the awesome Karen Amanda's the release day for her book Tangled Tides!

Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.

When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans. 

Tangled Tides is all about an underwater war between merfolk and selkies. But there are sirens and gorgons involved, too. So, to celebrate the book release, a bunch of us are taking sides in this war...and you can, too!

Karen is having a fun and easy Twitter contest to win a signed copy of Tangled Tides as well as lots of other fun sea creature prizes. All you have to do is tweet which side you choose in this underwater war and why with the hashtag #TangledTides.

And Karen will be on Twitter all day celebrating and answering questions, so stop by and say hello to her: @Karen_Hooper

For more information on the different sea creatures or the Twitter contest, or to see who else is participating and what side they are on, go check out Karen's blog.

As for me, in the underwater war, I CHOOSE SIRENS.

I mean, come on. You know me. I'm Team Veela. And if ANYONE has a seductive singing voice, well, you know it isn't me. But ask anyone who has ever been to karaoke with me...I sure THINK I do. And sirens need warmth, just like this California girl. So you KNOW I would choose Sirens in this's a no-brainer.

If you have a chance today, go congratulate Karen on the release of her book, and pick a side in this underwater war!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Thankful

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

What writing or publishing-related thing(s) are you most thankful for?

My unbelievably supportive writing group. When all of my agent stuff was going in, these girls were holding my hand and cheering me on, giving me advice and being so, so supportive. I can't even tell you how inspiring it is having these girls in my corner. And even more than having them cheer on my successes, I love cheering on their successes. They are a talented bunch, they have tons of amazing things in store for them, and I am so happy to know them. 

My CPs. They put up with my insane, neurotic emails. My freak outs over the smallest things. My absolute helplessness when it comes to plotting. They help me become a better writer every single day. I would be lost without them.

My blog and Twitter friends. You guys who come visit me over here, comment on my blog, chat with me on Twitter...I am so glad I have gotten to know you. You make this writing thing a lot less lonely and a lot more fun. 

My agent. Obvs. I am ridiculously thankful that Jill thinks that my writing is worth representing and wants to help me build a career in this business. If you would have told me this last Thanksgiving, I wouldn't have believed you. Not for a second. 

I know these are probably no different from most people thankful posts, but 2011 has been a rough year for me personally, and I've been so thankful to have the writing world to fall back on and give me comfort. Thank you all so much for your part in that!

What are you thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Shelter

Here's another song from my playlist for That Thing I Finished.

It's funny because That Thing I Finished was actually inspired by a song. It wasn't this song, but it could have been, because this song is so, so perfect for the emotions of my MC at a certain part of the story. Actually, if the song that inspired the story is the Before picture, this song is the After.

I absolutely love The xx. Their album is such great music for writing, especially when you need a little raw emotion as background noise.

Shelter - The xx

I find shelter, in this way
Under cover, hide away
Can you hear, when I say?
I have never felt this way

Maybe I had said, something that was wrong
Can I make it better, with the lights turned on
Maybe I had said, something that was wrong
Can I make it better, with the lights turned on

Could I be, was I there?
It felt so crystal in the air
I still want to drown, whenever you leave
Please teach me gently, how to breathe

And I'll cross oceans, like never before
So you can feel the way I feel it too
And I'll mirror images back at you
So you can see the way I feel it too

Maybe I had said, something that was wrong
Can I make it better, with the lights turned on
Maybe I had said, something that was wrong
Can I make it better, with the lights turned on

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tahereh Mafi Signing

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Tahereh Mafi's highly anticipated debut novel Shatter Me
We're in the right place

In another one of those It's A Small World moments (I've been having a lot of those with my real life and my writing life lately), I discovered that my sister-in-law went to college with Tahereh and they know each other from school. So, since the launch party was at their university, I brought my sister-in-law along with me. 

Me and my SIL

One of my former students also goes to the same school, so she was there, too, along with another former student (her cousin), and her little sister who is in my class right now. The event was also crawling with some of my favorite tweeters and bloggers. 

Then of course, there was the guest of honor.

The Shatter Me cake had sparkly icing! And it was really delicious, too!
Sadly, you can't see her killer shoes in this pic

For those of you who follow Tahereh online, you will be happy to know that she is just as nice and sweet and fun and funny in person as she is online. There were so many people there to support her, and so many people so excited about the book. The event was held in a large room in the school library, so lots of people were sitting around reading the book after they got it signed or while they were waiting for the line to die down. 

Me and Tahereh. She is so tiny and adorable, I feel like Gigantor next to her.

There was coffee and a selection of tea along with the cake, and I had a blast chatting with my students and my online pals once I got my book signed. 


I love local author events, and it's crazy how my writing life and my real life keep intermingling. Congratulations to Tahereh on the release of Shatter Me!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Five (21)

1. I somehow got put on the mailing list for's email newsletters. I get so annoyed when I see insipid things like Does Lady Gaga Want Kids? and Breaking News in the Bieber Paternity Case! show up in my inbox. But I check that email at work, and is blocked there. So every time I try to unsubscribe I just get sent to a blocked page. Then the next day I see another stupid headline in my inbox and I get all stabby again.

I don't give a crap about celebrities on a good day, but at 7:15 before I've finished my keg of coffee, the last thing I want to think about is what show I can catch The Situation on now. 

2. In case there was any doubt about me being Teacher of the Year, I spent a good 10 minutes of class telling my 1st period class how sexy Warner (the villain) from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is. Yes, I actually used the word sexy multiple times. I could have easily let the conversation go on for another 10 minutes, but I imagined my principal walking in, so I made myself shift gears back to To Kill A Mockingbird. I may have had a segue that was something like, "Speaking of sexy, let's go back to Atticus Finch."
I'm fairly certain that my students think I'm insane.

3. I didn't go to Breaking Dawn at midnight, and I really have no plans to see the movie. I'm waiting for all the recaps today to see if it is worth my mocking, but I really think I may just skip it altogether. I still have bruises from how far that book let me down, and I don't know if those wounds will ever really heal. I'm damaged, I tell you. DAMAGED.

Did you see it? How was it?

I just keep thinking about all of the people who have been into the movies and hadn't read the books. BOY HOWDY are those people in for a surprise with this one. Poor suckers.

4. After today I have a full, glorious week off for Thanksgiving. I'm hoping to use it to catch up on NaNoWriMo, but, let's be real here. I'll be sleeping in, cuddling with the pooch, and generally being a layabout. But that's exactly how I like to spend my time off, so it will really be perfect.

5. What's that you asked for? Another reminder to vote for my friend Claire and another photo of the two of us? Well, here you go!

Look how cute we are!

If you've missed it, my fabulous friend Claire is one of five finalists in American Way magazines Road Warrior contest. (American Way is the in-flight magazine for American Airlines, FYI.) Claire is the ONLY female and is clearly the most awesome she needs your votes! If you have a minute, could you please click this link and vote for her? You do have to fill out some info, but you will be entered to win 100,000 American miles, which is a pretty killer prize.

That's it for this week, peeps. Have a glorious weekend. <3

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Wow! I had so many of you enter my giveaway! I only wish I had more things to give you. Although, I was feeling so loved that I actually added an extra prize.

Without further ado, here are the winners!

Winner of the Signed Fantasy Prize Pack

Signed copies of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Winner of the Contemporary Pre-Order Prize Pack

Pre-orders of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Ditched by Robin Mellom*

(HAHAHAHA! Yes, Katy, I swear that picked you, and I cracked up.
Katy seriously wins every giveaway on every blog ever)

I was also feeling so overwhelmed at all the love from all of you that I picked up a signed copy of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi for one of you last night at her launch party!

Winners, I have emailed all of you. Thank you ALL so much for your support and enthusiasm. It really means so much to know that I have all of you behind me. <3 I'll try not to get too sappy here, but I really do value and appreciate all of you! Let's hug it out!

And stay tuned for more giveaways in the guys know I love to collect fun things to share with all if you.

*I don't know if I have said it enough, but Ditched is a delightfully funny book that I loved so much. Everyone should pre-order it like now

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: My Dream Curriculum

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

Today's topic: In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

I am lucky to be in the positon of being an English teacher, because I do get the opportunity to have a say in what my students read. I do have to choose from a district-approved list when it comes to our core novels, but I get to do fun things like book clubs and read-alouds to expose my students to books that they might connect with a little more. 

I really do want to add:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I really want to do both of these books with my freshmen. Bullying and general a-holery are such a problem at my school (and in the world), and I would love to read and discuss these two books with my 9th graders, who I think would get the most out of them. At this age, they just have a difficult time really grasping the consequences of their actions, and seeing how the things that they do can impact the people around them and discussing it all in a safe environment could really be a good lesson for them.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I love the gorgeous writing in this book, the tender story, and the historical context is just a bonus. I love that this book give a different view of Nazi Germany. Most of the books about Nazi Germany focus on the experience of the Jews, but I love that this book focuses on a German family and how the time period impacted them. It gives a different view to an important time in history, and it does it in an absolutely gorgeous way. It would be a great discussion on POV as well. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I can't think of a better choice that would get all of the students engaged while discussing complex themes and elements of storytelling. This book would get them learning without them even realizing it. Those are my favorite types of books. 

Just in case you're curious, these are the books I currently teach in my classes...

English 9
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Excerpts from The Odyssey
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Also short stories and poetry

English 10
Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Also short stries and poetry

I like the things I teach, but it would be fun to add in some more modern titles for my kids. 

What books would you love to see in the high school curriculum?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Criminal

I thought it might be fun to have Tuesday Tunes for the next few weeks feature songs from my book's playlist. (How weird not to call it my WIP anymore. Now it's THAT THING I ACTUALLY FINISHED.) I've had people ask me what it's about, and, well, for some reason I am still feeling all shy about it. I know I need to get over it, so maybe I'll get over it by sharing a few songs that go with the story.

And I'm trying to type up WHY this song is even on the playlist and I'm still feeling shy about it. I'm all, OMG SPOILERS, but spoilers are pretty harmless when there is no context, right? Ugh. Anyway. Here's a song from my playlist. It's about a girl who does something bad to a boy. Make of it what you will.

(This video is probably NSFW, and Fiona Apple so needs to eat a sandwich, but I really, really love it)

(And just a little trivia from this major Incubus fan...keep an eye out for Brandon Boyd, Incubus front man, swimming around in that fish tank)

Criminal - Fiona Apple

I've been a bad, bad girl
I've been careless with a delicate man
And it's a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy just because she can

Don't you tell me to deny it
I've done wrong and I want to suffer for my sins
I've come to you 'cause I need guidance to be true
And I just don't know where I can begin

What I need is a good defense
'Cause I'm feeling like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I've sinned against
Because he's all I ever knew of love

Heaven help me for the way I am
Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done
I know tomorrow brings the consequence at hand
But I keep living this day like the next will never come

Oh help me but don't tell me to deny it
I've got to cleanse myself of all these lies 'till I'm good enough for him
I've got a lot to lose and I'm bettin' high so I'm begging you
Before it ends just tell me where to begin

What I need is a good defense
'Cause I'm feeling like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I've sinned against
Because he's all I ever knew of love

Let me know the way
Before there's hell to pay
Give me room to lay the law and let me go
I've got to make a play
To make my lover stay
So what would an angel say, the devil wants to know

What I need is a good defense
Cause I'm feelin' like a criminal
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I've sinned against
Because he's all I ever knew of love

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jessi Kirby's School Visit

Last week Jessi Kirby, author of Moonglass, came to visit with my students. It was our first author visit, and it ended up being a ton of fun for all of us.

In one of those "it's a small world" sort of moments, I discovered that Jessi used to teach / be a librarian at the middle school that feeds into the high school where I teach. So we totally had the same students! Having her come visit my school was a total no-brainer, since she actually knows these kids.

We have loooong block scheduling classes, so she came for the first period of the day on Thursday and we broke it up into two sessions. Three classes came in the first session and three in the second session. What we didn't realize was that Thursday ended up being the senior ditch day, so a bunch of the seniors (who were the last kids that she taught) weren't there, which was a bit of a bummer. But we still had a great crowd anyway!

Jessi told the students all about her process for writing Moonglass, from idea all the way to publication. And what was cool was that she had visuals for each and every step. She showed them the paper where she jotted down her very first idea for the book and then her huge stack of edit notes from her editor, explaining every piece of the publication process along the way. It was really cool for them to see all of the revision that goes into writing. (Any English teachers out there know that getting students to understand that their writing isn't perfect after they put the final period on their first draft will feel me on that one.)

After that she opened it to Q&A, and the students had all kinds of great questions about her cover designs, future projects, and writing process. Then she pulled out this box of poetry anthologies that the current seniors did back in eighth grade and handed them back to them. They sure had a lot of fun flipping through their old work. I always love when they get to look at their old stuff like that.

Word spread that Jessi was on campus, so people were popping in even after we were done to say hello and get their poetry notebooks. When I got back to class, my students couldn't stop talking about it, and as I walked around campus I saw students bragging to other students about the bookmarks Jessi had signed for them.

It was just such a FUN day of getting the kids talking about writing and reading, and I think it made a big impact that they knew Jessi. That they could look at her and say, here is this person I know and like and admire, and she did this really cool thing.

It would be so awesome to get more authors on campus to talk to the kids...hopefully we can make it happen somehow.

*I'm protecting the identity of the minors, yo

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Five (20)

1. Wow, you guys. This week has been insane. Obviously I have had a lot going on. Add all of that to the time change and I have just been EXHAUSTED. I fell asleep, mouth open and drooling, in my car when I got to my hair appointment early on Tuesday. I have passed out on the couch more than once when I got home this week. I almost didn't even make it through 5th period yesterday, to tell you the truth. I was tempted to just tell my students to silent read for the last half of class and curl up in my desk chair to nap. I didn't...but I did consider it.

2. So, yeah...let's not talk about my NaNoWriMo progress this week, okay? Despite my best efforts to outline, my story took an unexpected turn pretty much right away, rendering pretty much all of my planning useless. And now I'm back to pantsing, which is so NOT my strength. I struggle every time I sit down to work because I have no idea where these characters are going and what they are doing. *sigh*

This means that it will lead to brilliance, right? RIGHT?

(Just smile and nod at me, please)
(Hopefully you guys are doing better than I am)

3. I'm off work today in honor of Veteran's Day. A day off couldn't come at a better time. I need to sleep and cuddle with the dog and catch up on NaNoWriMo and sleep some more and cuddle some more and write some more. It's rainy here today, so it's perfect. Then I go back to work for a week and then have a week off for Thanksgiving. More sleeping! More doggy cuddling! More catching up! Days off are so glorious.

4. I'm also very happy today to honor my grandfather, a veteran (and POW) of WWII, and my dad, a veteran of Vietnam. Thank you to all of the veterans out there for all you have done. <3

5. Last week I asked you guys to do me a huge favor and vote for my friend Claire in American Airlines / American Way Magazine's Road Warrior contest.

I'm just using this contest as an excuse to post cute pictures of me and Claire

Well, the voting is still on! If you haven't had a chance to vote yet, could you please just take a minute and vote for her? You do have to enter some info, but it only takes a second, and with a vote you are entered to win 100,000 miles on American. Claire is the only female finalist, she's all kinds of awesome, and she needs to WIN!

Thank you all so much! xoxo

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I am seriously blown away by everyone's enthusiasm and support on my agent story post yesterday. Thank you all SO MUCH for getting so excited with me. You know me, I'm a big spaz, so of course I've been all muppet arms flailing around for the past week now. I'm so freaking happy I can hardly stand it.

I would love to do this BIG, HUGE OMG I HAVE AN AGENT giveaway, but the truth is that, well, this all happened so quickly that I didn't really have time to put anything super special together. I did manage to dig around in the archives and find a few things, however, since it wouldn't be a party here without a book giveaway, right?

I have TWO prize packs, so that means TWO winners. YAY!

Signed Fantasy Prize Pack

One winner will get a signed copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and Liesel & Po by Lauren Oliver

Both of these are signed! OOOH!

Contemporary Pre-Order Prize Pack

One winner will get a pre-order of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Ditched by Robin Mellom (Both of these books come out on January 10, 2012)

The Fault in Our Stars will also be signed, because John Green is some kind of Superman

All you have to do to enter is comment on this post. Make sure you include an email (or have a blogger profile that links to your email) and tell me which prize pack you want. (If you like both, you can definitely say both!) The fantasy prize pack is open to US only, but the pre-order prize pack is open to anywhere Book Depository ships. Tweets / posts about the contest are welcome, but not required. This contest is open until midnight on Wednesday, 11/16.

I can't thank all of you enough for sharing this fun writing journey with me and for being so excited and so supportive. I have the best followers and friends ever. xoxo

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


So, um...I have an agent.

I know what you're thinking. Jess, I didn't even know you were querying! You know what? I didn't really know I was, either. It just sort of...happened.

Want to know the story? Well, here it is.

Back in March this happened over at WriteOnCon:

If you've been around awhile you know that earlier in the year I shelved my ms and then suddenly pulled it back off the shelf. Well, right before that I had sent Jill Corcoran my query to critique and then sort of...forgot about it. And in the meantime I got frustrated with my ms, deemed it a hot mess I couldn't untangle, and put it away. But then Jill emailed me back that query critique I had forgotten about...which ended up being less of a critique and more of a full request.

A full request? Well, crap. I had just shelved that ms because it was a hot mess. So I pulled it back off the shelf and decided I needed to make it work...somehow. I couldn't let a full request from an awesome agent just go to waste. I stalked ran into Jill at KidLit Drinks night and told her that my ms wasn't quite ready, and she told me to take my time, so I spent my summer trying to figure out all of my problems with my story.

It took awhile, a long while, but after a few great conversations with some great CPs I finally figured it all out. And then I wrote and wrote and revised and revised and on Saturday 10/29 I finally had a finished and totally polished ms.

So I sent it to Jill.

I decided at that point that I might as well start querying, since I did have a complete and polished ms, and if I was sending out the full, then I should just go for it.

So I sent six queries.

Within 24 hours I had two full requests.

And on Tuesday (three years to the day after I wrote the first word of this ms, BTW), just three days after I sent Jill my full, she called me with an offer.

Three days, you guys. THREE DAYS. Three days does not happen to me. I was thinking three months. Or three years. Or three different mss.

Jill loved my book, and I could tell how enthusiastic she was about it. And, because I'm a good little writer, I had done my research on Jill and I was way enthusiastic about her, too. One look at her client list shows how much she loves contemporary, and she actually repped one of my very favorite books that I read this year, DITCHED by Robin Mellom. (It comes out in January...I seriously can't wait.) I couldn't help but feel that if she loves my book and she loves that book, then she just gets me.

But there were still other agents who had the full...and some who had just gotten my query like 12 hours before. So I nudged everyone (one of those nudges turned into another full request), and then I waited. I really just wanted to accept Jill's offer, but I didn't know if one of the other agents would love it as much. I've heard of other writers being totally sure about who they thought they were going to sign with, until another agent totally took them by surprise. So I waited, just in case, even though my gut was telling me Jill no matter what. And as I waited, I saw things like this:

EEEK. The week I gave all of the agents to read just felt like forever. And here I was trying to NaNo, but I was totally unable to concentrate on anything but obsessively checking my inbox and sending epic emails to my writing group. 

In the end, though, I knew that there was no one else who would be as excited about my project as Jill. So yesterday, a week after she called me for the first time, I accepted her offer in the middle of fifth period class. (My students were very excited for me. They tried to use it as an excuse to celebrate all period instead of reading Ch 4 of To Kill A Mockingbird, but you know that didn't fly.)

You guys, I seriously can't believe that this is my story. I can not believe it. I'm beyond thrilled, but, dang, to say that I didn't expect this is like the understatement of the year. I had this big plan to query this project to 100 rejections, and I got an offer and then an agent from my very first query. And not even an official query, really...a query critique. That I sent without a full even finished and ready to go. 

So Gunner and I spent last night celebrating, as we often do.

There were also cupcakes involved

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: Foundations

It's been a while since I've done a Tuesday Tunes post! I was listening to the same two or three albums on repeat while I finished up my revision, but now that I'm drafting I've been listening to my massive Writing Mix playlist, which is pretty much just every song I really like. (Yeah, it's a long playlist.)

The other day this one came on, and I realized a) how much I really freaking love this song and b) how much it fits with my NaNo story! It's perfect for my MC's frame of mind at the beginning of the story, so I promptly moved it over to my new draft playlist.

I'm pretty fascinated by messed up relationships, and my NaNo story definitely starts off with a messed up relationship, so this song is the perfect kick-off to that story.

Foundations - Kate Nash

Thursday night, everything's fine, except you've got that look in your eye
when I'm telling a story and you find it boring,
you're thinking of something to say.
You'll go along with it then drop it and humiliate me in front of our friends.

Then I'll use that voice that you find annoying and say something like
"yeah, intelligent input, darling, why don't you just have another beer then?"

Then you'll call me a bitch
and everyone we're with will be embarrassed,
and I wont give a shit.

My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundation,
and I know that I should let go,
but I can't.
And every time we fight I know it's not right,
every time that you're upset and I smile.
I know I should forget, but I can't.

You said I must eat so many lemons
'cause I am so bitter.
I said
"I'd rather be with your friends mate 'cause they're much fitter."

Yes, it was childish and you got aggressive,
and I must admit that I was a bit scared,
but it gives me thrills to wind you up.

My fingertips are holding on to the cracks in our foundation,
and I know that I should let go,
but I can't.
And every time we fight I know it's not right,
every time that you're upset and I smile.
I know I should forget, but I can't.

Your face is pasty 'cause you've gone and got so wasted, what a surprise.
Don't want to look at your face 'cause it's making me sick.
You've gone and got sick on my trainers,
I only got these yesterday.
Oh, my gosh, I cannot be bothered with this.

Well, I'll leave you there 'till the mornin',
and I purposely won't turn the heating on
and dear God, I hope I'm not stuck with this one.

My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundation,
and I know that I should let go,
but I can't.
And every time we fight I know it's not right,
every time that you're upset and I smile.
I know I should forget, but I can't.

And every time we fight I know it's not right,
every time that you're upset and I smile.
I know I should forget, but I can't.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update

Wow, you guys. NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt. I've been looking forward to writing this story for a year now, but now that I am sitting down to do it, I'm really struggling. Every single word takes a colossal amount of effort. UGH. I'm irritated with myself.

I thought I would share my stats with you guys, so you can see how I'm doing. Here's the screenshot of my stats page from yesterday:
As you can see, I'm behind schedule. But I'm not TOO behind. I just have to do an extra 400 words over the average daily word count to stay on schedule. And I have an entire week off for Thanksgiving with no actual plans. So while I am behind, I still have plenty of time to catch up. I got a lot done yesterday, so as long as I can have those days with a big word count I should be okay. 

I'm just finding that I only want to write the flirty scenes with the cute boy. This is how I end up with no plot. Oh well. 

So, it's been a really rough start, but I'm hanging in there and trying to stay positive. How are you doing with your November writing, NaNoWriMo or otherwise?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Five (19)

1. What? It's Friday already? Why do the awesome weeks fly by at the speed of light while the terrible weeks drag on forever?

2. NaNoWriMo and I aren't off to a very good start. I'm having a very difficult time switching from revision brain to shitty first draft brain. I type a sentence and then I look at it (I know...that's my problem), and I'm like, "Ugh, I need to take out that just" or "this is a lot of description...maybe I don't need so much." I know I need to just get it down on the page, but my inner editor has been hanging out in my head for so long that she's gotten comfortable and refuses to pack up and leave. This isn't good for the ol' word count. Hopefully I can kick her to the curb this weekend.

3. Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I mentioned that I did a video about NaNo on our morning news at school. Two of my amazing sophomores filmed and edited the whole thing and it looked so fantastic. They asked me great interview questions, they made me NOT look or sound like a dork, and they did such a great job putting it all together. It looked completely professional. I was seriously so impressed with them! I need to see if I can get a copy of it from them.

4. I should be embarrassed to admit how excited I am that new episodes of Beavis and Butthead are back on TV, but I'm not. I love that show back in the 90s, and I still love it now. Mike Judge did an awesome job of updating it without taking away its special charm. I have spent all week quoting lines from it with the husband.

And I can't tell you how excited I am that my students might actually know what I'm talking about when I tell them to "settle down, Beavis."

Yeah, I rarely watch TV. But when I do, it's nothing but quality for me.

5. One last thing...I have a HUGE favor to ask of you guys!

One of my besties, Claire, is a finalist in American Way magazine's Road Warrior contest. (American Way is the in-flight magazine for American Airlines.) (There are only five finalists out of tens of thousands of entries, so this is a big deal.)

Me and Claire

Claire is the ONLY FEMALE finalist and SHE NEEDS YOUR VOTES! If you have a chance, can you please vote for her?

Here's the link. I think if you read her entry you will want to vote for her because she's awesome.

You do have to fill out info when you vote, but everyone who votes is entered into a drawing to win 100,000 American Airlines miles, which is a pretty great prize. But even if you don't win, you are totally supporting my friend, which makes you really rad.

Claire gets to go to Miami for the photo shoot for the magazine in January and she is bringing me as her guest! I can't wait for the trip...but it would be so much more worthwhile if her picture ended up on the cover of the magazine as the winner. ;-)

Thanks so much, you guys. I really appreciate it! xoxo

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lots of Happy

Last week was ROUGH. But this week is looking so, so much better. So many great things have been happening!

I put a pirate hat on my dog for Halloween.

Oh man, how pissed does he look? 

I got a homemade caramel apple from one of my students. (It was delicious!)

Ack! WAY too close! But oh so yummy.

I nominated one of my sweeties for Student of the Month and she gave me a little thank you note.

Little things like this mean so much to me. <3

My 4th period tampered with my door sign because they know how much I fangirl John Green.

Yes, those are goats. I love goats.

And I don't have a picture of this, but ASB made me Teacher of the Month this month! I got all of the nomination slips that people filled out for me. Four of them were DEFINITELY from the same person and all listed some form of "Best Dressed" as the reason for my nomination. I guess I'll take it. The other ones said awesome things like "she gives us time to read every day" and "she believes in girl power." Both of those melted my heart a little bit. And then there is the one that "BEASTLIEST"...I'm not quite sure what to make of that one, to be quite honest.

But, whatever. Teacher of the Month! Yay! I'll take it!

Lots of happy for me this week, you guys. I hope you have lots, too. <3

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Writing Coach

It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

What kind of writing coach do you need? What kind are you? 

What I have realized, especially recently, is that I am a very delicate flower when it comes to my writing. I love and totally welcome feedback, but I am very self-conscious of my writing and I am convinced that it's all crap. So I really need someone to stroke my ego in between helpful suggestions. I honestly don't mind if you tell me that something isn't working or just plain sucks. But you also need to tell me ALL of the funny parts, all the parts that made you laugh or cry or swoon. If I don't get a hint that I am doing something right I get all emo and try to throw the whole thing out the window.

So I need someone who is brutally honest, but also very, very encouraging. Otherwise I get all lost in my own insecurities and curl in a ball and swear that I suck more than anyone has sucked before. 

Like I said, I'm a delicate little flower. 

I try to be the same when I'm reading other people's stuff. I always like to let them know the things that are really working, because I think we can sometimes get so caught up in pointing out the things that need to be fixed that we forget the praise...and that's just as important!

How about you? What kind of writing coach do you need?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Kick Off!

It's officially November! Time for NaNoWriMo!

Yesterday I committed to NaNo on the morning news to my entire school, so that means I'm doing this thing! I'm so glad we're kicking off on my short day at soon as my last class gets out, I'm heading over to Starbucks to get started with this idea that's been living in my head for the past year.

Yeah, last November 1st I considered writing this same idea for NaNo. But I was in the middle of my other project and as I sat down to give it a try, I found that I just couldn't commit to it the way I wanted to. So I filed it away, outlined it a bit, and now, a year later, I'm giving it another try. Let's hope I can do it some justice!

I have no idea how this month is going to go for me, blogging-wise. I HOPE I'll be able to maintain my weekday blogging schedule, but if I can't, you guys will cut me a break, right? That word count goal is my first priority, you know.

I'm excited, though! I've worked on the same project for the past three years...I wrote the first words (which no longer exist) three years ago THIS VERY DAY. I can't wait to meet some new characters and explore a different world.

If you're NaNo-ing this year, add me as a buddy! Here I am!

Those of you participating - what are you writing? (I'm writing a YA contemp...of course.)