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Happy Apocalypse Day!

I thought I’d attempt to share what is happening at a high school on this day of school. It is December 21, 2012 and as you know it has long been considered the day of the apocalypse. I’m not going to lie–I’ve dreaded this day for quite awhile. It’s not because I think the world will suddenly implode upon itself, but rather in what the public will do in the event of mass hysteria. Just last week, the country was saddened by the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary where 26 kids and adults were brutally shot and killed. Then later, a man shot 50 rounds of bullets at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. My school has held meetings in which we have been trained in what to do if such a catastrophe where to take place here. Yesterday, my students informed me of a rumor in which several groups of students will come on campus and proceed to shoot everyone. I seriously considered staying home today–and keeping my young kids from their school as well.

We all went to school today. My classes are nearly empty and we’re passing the time watching “A Christmas Story.” Why did I decide to come? Because I don’t want to be scared. It’s not fair that the few can scare the majority to such extraordinary levels. It’s not fair that public schools should fear coming to a place that should always be considered safe.

I also came because I have projects due today and I wanted to see the efforts of their work. My students have been (mostly) working hard on completed their self-portraits and I wanted to see them.

 

Anyway, so far so good!

Pitchwars is over…Now what?

As a writer, I have to have thick skin. I know that, but it still stings a bit when rejection hits. The last two weeks have comprised of checking my email, obsessing over #pitchwars on Twitter, and participating excessively on Absolute Write.

Today, I found out that I did not get chosen by one of the many fabulous mentors that agreed to go through an endless pile of slush to find something that truly called to them. I am grateful for the experience. The women I submitted to made rejection not feel quite so bad and even offered to take a look at some stuff when I’m ready. Win-win! Another positive–I met some amazing people along the way that I hope will lead to lasting friendships. Also through the experience, cpseek.com was founded. This is a new site designed my the mentors of Pitchwars to continue helping writers.

The future: I’ve sent my manuscript out to a few Beta readers and am waiting for their feedback before I make any edits. Until then, I need to focus on the next project, and continue to rewrite my query (which I may finally have figured out where I was going wrong all this time–thanks Stacey Lee!).

Pitch Wars

Here I go again with another contest. This one is called Pitch Wars and it is hosted by Brenda Drake.

Here are the submission details if you’re interested… 

Submissions start today (11/26)  and the cut off time for applications (query and first five pages of manuscript) is 8AM EST on December 5.

Send your applications to brendadrakecontests@gmail.com. Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches’ categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they’ve signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their category.

·        This is open to finished manuscripts only.
·         You may only enter one manuscript.
·         Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.
Formatting…
Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)
Name: Your Name
Genre: The genre of your manuscript
Word Count: The word count of your manuscript
Query letter here  (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.
First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentions. A space between each paragraph.
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches. 

Check Brenda Drake’s site for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There’s over a dozen!

Today all the coaches are posting bios/wish lists on their blogs. So before choosing your top 3 picks, check all the coaches’ posts in your category before deciding which coach to submit. To jump from blog to blog, just click on our pictures below. 

Matched–book review

 After seeing this book listed as the next “it” book on Twitter for too many days in a row, I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I generally like this genre–YA dystopian–and I haven’t read any with the same premise.

Synopsis:

Cassia is a girl who believes that the Society has her best interests in heart. They tell her what stories to read, what paintings to enjoy, what songs to listen to–all of “culture” has been broken into lists of 100. Everything else is gone and destroyed. Even her options at love are sorted to perfection. At 17, she attends a Matching ceremony where she will learn of her ideal Match. The boy’s face flashes on the screen and it’s her best friend. All is perfect in the world, until a second boy’s face also flashes on the screen. This glitch in the society’s perfect system puts doubt in Cassia, especially when she starts to fall in love with the more unlikely of the two boys.

Recommendation:

Yep, I’d recommend this to anyone with a hankering for YA, romance, and dystopian interests.

Ahhh…Breaking Dawn part 2

This week has been an interesting week. Monday was a holiday, so as a teacher I had the day off only to be sick with the stomach flu. Yep, and it was not fun. I took Tuesday off just to ease back into the world of wellness. Worked two days and then…

I completely forgot! Breaking Dawn part 2 came out today and I had to see it. I read all of the books as they came out. Saw every movie on their respective opening days. There was no way I was missing the last one. Alas, I took another day for me. I’m not one that usually does that sort of thing and I absolutely loved the movie! It was probably my favorite one of the entire franchise and I won’t ruin it, but there is quite the surprise at the end. For those of you that have seen it, you know what I’m talking about. My hat is off to you, Stephenie Meyer for going out with a bang and turning a “silly little vampire story” into something that I truly believed changed the literary world. Am I being melodramatic? Possibly. But how many stay at home moms and housewives found inspiration in a fellow mom and took pen to paper and finally wrote the first words of their own beautiful manuscripts.

She inspired me.

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 16: Dan nursed his wounded leg for an entire day, but nothing made it feel better. When his son walked in through the front door he hadn’t expected much, but John was smiling. It was so rare to see that smile on his face any more that it completely caught Dan by surprise.

“Hey,” he said. “What’re you up to?”

“Nothin’.” John brushed his hand through his hair until it stuck in every direction. It was dark, but when the light hit it, it looked liked copper. He shoved his hands in his pockets, the smile still evident on his face.

“You look happy.”

“I kinda am.”

“Oh no. What’s her name?”

John squinted at his dad. “How did you know?”

“It’s always a girl.”

“Hey, Dad?” John rested his hand on his dad’s shoulder. It was very warm and took away the ache in his shoulder almost instantly. “Never mind.” He removed his hand and Dan felt the pain return. He looked at his son and shook his head.

Year 17: The forest was supposed to be a surprise. John hadn’t even thought to bring his epi-pen. He was wearing long pants, shoes…nothing was supposed to happen. When the bee landed on his arm, it was so sudden, so unexpected that John didn’t even move to shoo it off. It stung him and within seconds John’s eyes fluttered closed.

It was just as he knew it would happen. He sensed his slowing heart, the accelerated rise and fall of his chest. It wouldn’t be long. His last thoughts were that he didn’t cry out. Not once did he call for help. He lay in peace and silence, with only his own mind keeping him company. There was no one to hold his hand, no one to say his name. He was alone.

There were feet pounding the distance and then stopping directly by his head. A muffled scream. Hands pawing at his clothes. Cries for help.

Through dry lips, he muttered one word: “Tessa.”

October memoir and backstory blog challenge

Year 13: John followed his dad around the grocery store as if he were tethered to him by the ankle. Dan was well aware of John’s extracurricular activities and insisted that John be no more than a foot away from him at all times.

“Can I go look at the magazines?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“You know why?”

They continued to shuffle across the slick linoleum floor. Dan had a slight limp in his right leg that always flared up when the weather cooled. Every step looked like it pained him. For this reason, he had decided to move them both to California. John knew the real motivation behind the move–a fresh start, a place where people would finally stop staring at them.

“How much more do we need?” John whined.

“It’s a two day drive. What do you think?”

“More?” John guessed and Dan nodded.

By the time they got to the counter, they had a small mountain of food in their cart. The woman smiled politely to them, a smile that said more than she would say aloud. John felt it in his bones. It was pity and it was disgusting.

Year 14:

The first year in California felt like a dream with nothing to mark the passing of seasons except the fruit in the fruit bowl. Their were apples in the bowl. It was winter. In the spring there were always tangerines. In the summer, plums and peaches. Winter brought apples. Lots and lots of apples.

John stopped fighting, but he still felt the twitch in his muscles whenever someone looked at him for too long.

 

Year 15: This dreaded day crept upon John. It was supposed to be a day he might start fresh. The first day of high school. The squat rectangular building sat in front of him now looking more like a prison than a place of learning. There was a small crowd of teachers in the back corner of the parking lot choking back cigarettes repetitively. They were all snuffed out the moment the bell sounded. John’s bag was slung low over his shoulder, his green eyes focused on the tiny veins in the asphalt. He didn’t see the shiny red Buick until it nearly ran him over. The guy driving didn’t even ask to see if he was okay.

John watched the guy for a long while, almost skipping his first ever high school class. When the guy bumped into him, it was too easy to steal his wallet. As soon as he could, John dropped it into his bag. He didn’t look at it until he got home.

That night, he picked through the wallet without an ounce of regret. He threw the money, the driver’s license, and the array of cards in the trash. He kept only one thing. It was a picture of a girl. She had dirty blonde hair, bright hazel eyes, and a smile that was slightly crooked, but somehow fit her perfectly. He imagined this girl smiling at him, wishing that someone would smile at him this way, without pity.

He closed his eyes and dreamt of the nameless girl with the bright eyes that night.

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

So, I’ve been slacking on this challenge a bit. Between GUTGAA and the Harper Voyager submission window, I have been focusing every spare bit of energy on my manuscript. I feel as if I could recite it by heart at this point.

Year 8: John’s eighth birthday could have passed without him noticing. Only his mom with her ever-present triple layer chocolate caked marked the occasion as anything other than a regular day. She had baked it during the night and the whole house smelled of sugar and frosting. His name was written in thin blue lines across the middle of the cake. He ached to dip his finger into the soft side, maybe even angle the cake so that no one would see it.

“John, get out here,” his dad yelled from the garage. His dad was in a good mood when he was in the garage. The car had been more of a gift for him than for John, but it gave them an excuse to spend time together without talking.

The car had been scrubbed clean of its paint and now rested on cinder blocks. John made his way outside, a regretful glance at the cake on the counter. “What are you doing?”

“What’s this called?” His father was perpetually testing him on the different engine parts.

“Uh, the camshaft.”

“And this?”

“Timing belt.” His jeans had oily smudges across the front from many days spent out here. He smeared another layer into them.

His dad smiled and rubbed him affectionately on the head. Something about being able to call off various engine parts made him proud. “Go get me that allen wrench over there will you?”

John turned to fumble in the messy tool box.

“So, I guess, umm…happy birthday.”

John’s mouth fell open. His father looked away, almost embarrassed. He handed him the wrench and leaned against the car. “Thanks.”

It was the first time his dad remembered his birthday.

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 6: “What are you doing, kid?” John’s dad had gotten in the habit of calling him “kid” instead of his name for a long time now. He picked at the tobacco from the can on his lap, managing to pull at the stems and begrudge John all at the same time. His fingertips were stained a dirty yellow and always smelled sweetly sour. 

John was very busy at the end of the driveway, his back to the house. He didn’t even lift his head in acknowledgment. 

“I said, what are you doing?”

John’s head lifted just slow enough to annoy his father. He managed to turn so that what lay in front of him was hidden. “Nothin’.”

“Do I need to come over there?” It was an empty threat. John knew his dad had no intention of leaving his rocking chair. He grunted once and then turned his attention to the rolling of cigarettes. It was an art making them straight and even.

John was too busy to watch his father now though. Earlier in the morning, he had heard a squawking beside his bedroom window. It was still dark, but John was in the habit of sleeping with a flashlight. He wound the crank that would turn it on and made his way through the house, swishing the light back and forth across the walls. His dad’s snores came steadily and masked any sound John made on the creaky floor boards. He found a baby bird at the end of the noise. 

Since then, John hadn’t let it out of his sight. 

 

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 5: At five, John knew how he would die. There was a field behind his house that was mostly dirt and bright yellow flowers that were taller than him. He was walking with a stray dog at his side. The dog was yellow with matted fur and a tongue that was too big for its mouth. John repeatedly threw a stick ten feet forward for the dog to chase. 

“Hey, Buddy,” he called after the animal. John skipped forward, not paying attention to the dirt that billowed around his ankles with each step. “Come back here.”

His foot landed hard on something that gave away at his touch. It only took a moment for the wasps to scatter around his body in an angry flurry. The stings came fast and consistent. He ran with arms flailing and made it to his back porch before he fell to his knees. His fingertips grazed the back door, but he was unconscious before anyone came. 

He awoke in an unfamiliar place with nurses and doctors. His mom was sitting, her eyes wide and vigilant. “He was lucky this time,” the gray haired doctor was saying to his mom. She nodded once. “He’ll need to take this if it happens again.” He handed her a syringe and John shuddered. Both of their attentions redirected to his sleepy form on the bed. 

“John?” His mom had gotten to her feet, her hand already stroking his hair. “How are you feeling, angel?”

John’s mouth opened to speak, but everything felt clumsy and too large for words. His stare grew frightened as he looked between them. 

“It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

The doctor cleared his throat. “Yes, as I was saying…he’s going to need to keep this with him at all times…”