Friday, August 26, 2016

Guess What I Am?

A PitchWars 2016 Mentee!

As in Brenda Drake's brainchild, #PitchWars.

I'm so thrilled I don't even know what to do with myself except dance awkwardly and giggle nervously. So there's been a lot of this....


AND not ONLY did I make it into the contest, but Dawn Ius is my mentor... as in Dawn Ius, author of Anne and Henry and Override:


She was the first mentor I fell in love with because she's, well, awesome. Then I read Anne and Henry and realized just how brilliant of a writer she is. I feel so incredibly lucky she chose my MS to mentor. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic about working with her.

So, for the next two months, I'll be doing what I do best (and by "best" I mean "all the time") - a lot of juggling, a lot of laundry avoidance, and a lot of squandering all free minutes to whip my current MS, FLASH MOB MURDERS, into shape. And maybe, every now and again, I'll squeeze in a bit of celebrating in the best way I know how.

*awkward dancing and nervous giggling*

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pitch Wars Bio

I'm a 7th grade teacher in the northern suburbs of Chicago where I live with my husband, our three beautiful children, and a seriously beautiful boxer.

Seriously. Right?

Why I'd make a good mentee:
I'm grateful for any and all opportunities. I'm resilient and can handle criticism. I thrive when my odds are low or when I'm pushed or challenged. My life is full, but I will work my butt off to make this MS its BEST. I will also work my butt off simply because someone believes in me or my story. I am goal oriented and too stubborn to back down once goals are set. Life experiences have shaped my attitude and work ethic which is kind of like...


My life as a mom:
My kids remind me daily that anything is possible. My oldest was born prematurely. After his birth, I was told I would likely not have more children. While that part of my life could be its own story, I'll simply say this: Overcoming his struggles and scares, my oldest has proven all goals are attainable with determination, optimism, and the willingness to work hard, hard, hard. I appreciate life and don't take it for granted.


My life as a teacher:
I've taught 7th grade literacy for 16 years. I love my curriculum. I love the age group (awkwardness and all). I love meshing my teaching world and writing world by introducing kids to good books. Don't Get Caught by debut author Kurt Dinan was one of our favorite reads last year. I recommended it to a few kids until it became an epidemic during SSR Fridays. Don't Get Caught is a hysterical YA read....though I'm biased. He's a CP.

My life as a writer:
It started in 4th grade when I wrote, bound, and gave away terrible poetry to family and teachers as Christmas gifts. *Sorry teachers.* After a long on-again/off-again relationship, I finally wrote and sought representation 4ish years ago for my YA paranormal thriller in the midst of the Before I Fall and If I Stay craze. I had 8 requests, 1 upgrade from partial to full, and 0 offers of representation. FLASH MOB MURDERS is my 2nd MS, and I'm ready to do whatever it takes to change that outcome. 

The inspiration behind my MS:
In 2011, Chicago was hit with several Flash Mob attacks. I remember reading stories where dozens of teenage kids would appear out of nowhere to mug and attack mostly tourists. The stories terrified me. So, naturally, I took the concept, made it worse, and added elements of mystery and romance, and packed it with TENSION. And voila:

My pitch:
When amateur vigilante Lia Finch uncovers the details of the next Flash Mob murder, the Chicago Police once again dismiss her as unhinged. To them, her father, the city’s District Attorney, was the mob’s final victim ending the decade-long reign of terror. Even two years later, city authorities still blindly pretend his death wasn’t targeted. Lia knows better.

Desperate to prove them wrong, Lia heads to Navy Pier alone to document the impending attack. When dozens of teenage mobbers suddenly emerge from the crowd to swarm the next unsuspecting victim, Lia finds herself trapped. It’s a grey-eyed mobber that saves Lia by throwing her off the pier. The fall nearly kills her, but it saves her life.

Now this self-professed loner and Flash Mob survivor suddenly becomes the city’s golden child. The media wants to exploit her. The mayor wants to parade her around as the poster child for a safer “New Chicago.”  And mobbers want her dead. If Lia’s going to finish her father’s mission to prove these attacks aren’t random or gang affiliated, she’s going to need help – even if that means trusting a fame-hungry reporter, and the mysterious gray-eyed mobber that keeps turning up in her life. Someone big is orchestrating the attacks. Lia knows it. If only she can stay alive long enough to prove it. 

Thanks for stopping! I've missed the writing community. Nice to see everyone again. ;) 

Monday, December 15, 2014

An Uncommon Blue

This holiday season, I have quite a bit to celebrate. Woo-hoo!

Among the good news, two CP's of mine have books coming out. One CP, Kurt Dinan, recently signed with Sourcebooks. Another CP, RC Hancock's book, An Uncommon Blue came out earlier this month by Sweetwater Books. Today I'm thrilled to gush over RC and his book.

In Télesphore, the glowing color of a person’s palm determines their place in society, and touching hands with another mixes the colors permanently. When sixteen-year-old Bruno accidentally kills a royal soldier, he goes from favored to fugitive. Now Bruno's only chance at survival is to become someone else. That means a haircut, a change of wardrobe, and most important, getting rid of his once cherished Blue. Now he’s visiting parts of town he never knew existed, and making friends with people he would've crossed the street to avoid only weeks ago. At the last minute, Bruno’s parents arrange a deal to clear his name and get his life back. All Bruno has to do is abandon those in the Red slums that look to him as a leader and let an innocent Green boy die in his place.

Why I love it: 
I love this book because the protagonist, Bruno, is a hero worth rooting for. In the beginning of the book, Bruno, a member of Telesphore's social elite, enjoys his life of privilege while remaining ignorant of how those below him on Telesphore's social hierarchy are mistreated. However, after he is sucked into a scandal that jeopardizes his entire future, he immerses himself among the lower classes as a fugitive. Along the way, he is forced to make difficult choices that affect his family, his friends, and all the people who help him along the way. Through these difficult decisions, Bruno shows us all how adversity defines us. An Uncommon Blue has action, plot twists, a little romance, and a theme that all of us can identify with. 

Plus I love the cover...I'm such a sucker for a good cover. And, of course, I'm incredibly partial because I adore RC.

About the author:
RC (Really Cool) Hancock began his writing career with a story about a dead cat which his second grade teacher thought was brilliant. Convincing others of his literary genius has taken longer than expected, but along the road he has acquired a lovely wife, four entertaining ankle-biters (who, thankfully, look more like their mother), and a degree from BYU in Recreational Management & Youth Leadership (which means he’s really good at having fun.) An Uncommon Blue is his first novel.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Deal Maker

These past few months, I’ve received some news of the let’s-see-what-you’re-made-of variety. I like to think in times of adversity, I come out swinging. Hard. I take in news, I process it; then I get my game plan together and start to attack it. I usually win too. For being a small person, I’m freakishly strong, and I’ve always been incredibly lucky. (Disclaimer…I’m much more lucky than strong….Okay full disclaimer – my biceps look impressive, but it’s illusionary. I can’t open a bottle of wine by myself for the life of me.)

Without being too specific or too personal, this fight is a bit more exhausting. There are no quick fixes. And I haven’t been feeling too lucky.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I had my coming-to-Jesus revelation. I made my deal with God. And in exchange for one tiny (okay-kind of gianormous) but *possible* miracle, my “give-back” involved writing. That shocked me. Usually my “give-back” involves teaching. This time, it’s writing.

Writing is powerful. Words are powerful. Books are powerful. Stories and characters can change lives, save lives, reshape the way people think. As a seventh grade literacy teacher, I’ve seen it happen. And if God takes me up on my deal, I will dedicate my life doing just that.

So I’m going to be away for a while…lifting weights, running laps, knocking down hurdles (because jumping over them is a quick-fix and there are no quick fixes here). And I will be writing. Just in case I’m one day called upon to use my writing powers to spread a little good.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

So Much to Celebrate

Alex J Cavanaugh's IWSG and the 4th of July in one week? So much to celebrate!

July 4th has always been my favorite holiday. Because of it, I will toss aside my monthly griping to celebrate some small successes.

I love editing. It's my favorite part of the process. But that also means I can get stuck editing the hell out of what I've written instead of moving forward. This summer, I've committed to moving forward and cranking out a first draft by the end of the year. A very smart CP of mine told me to commit to 500 words a day. It's so simple, and for someone with my stupid, insane schedule, it's perfect. Slowly but steadily, I've wracked up 20,000+ words this summer. I estimate that's ~25% of being done. Perhaps not worthy of fireworks, but certainly worthy of a really good tasting imported beer with a ridiculously high alcohol content. Yes, I realize given the week a Coors Light might be more American of me, but this type of small success ought to be celebrated properly.

So, cheers - to big successes, small successes, and everything in between! Whatever your successes may be, I hope you all take the time to celebrate them properly.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

No Guts, No Glory

No matter how well a book is written, a handful of kids will always hate it. Hunger Games is the closest I've ever come to having most of my kids enjoy reading it. I personally love the Cinder series. I think it's incredibly well-written, especially the second and third books, but many of my kids can't get into them. That doesn't mean they aren't good books.

I recently gave my MS for critique to someone who didn't have the same vision I had for my plot and characters. As a result, the critique totally derailed me. Since then, I've been rethinking (and over-thinking) something I was initially excited to write instead of actually writing.

Likewise, a CP of mine on submission right now just received a R&R from an agent. While most of the suggestions were good, it caused him to temporarily lose sight of everything great and strong about his MS. My CP friend is brilliant. He emailed a best-selling author for advice. The advice Mr. Best-Seller gave was stark, sound, and basically boiled down to this: Just because someone gives you advice about your MS, doesn't mean you have to take it. No matter how good an agent, an author, or a CP is, if they aren't a fit for you and your work it's best to go a different direction. 

These last couple months have shed a new light on an old lesson - one I need to have more faith in: Write the novel you want to read. This April, may you all have the confidence, the ambition and the guts to do just that.

Happy IWSG Alex J. Cavanaugh and friends!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Better Late Than Never

I'm squeezing in last second with my IWSG post. I adore Alex J. Cavanaugh and my IWSG friends too much to skip out several months in a row and get kicked out...better late than never.

Today I'm airing out my New Year's Resolutions. Yes, it's February and New Year's Day was forever ago, but I'm hoping we can just tiptoe past that and let it cleverly fit in with today's theme. Right?

NY Resolutions:
1. I'm 10,000 words into my next MS. I hope to have a strong rough draft by the end of the year, with the high hope of sending out queries in early 2015.
2. I'd love to find one more CP that I mesh well with - preferably a female who loves YA. I LOVE my current CP's and Betas, but they are mostly male. I'd love another female perspective. (This one is for much, much, much later in the year when I have a bit more time to be a good CP myself).
3. Complete 15 credit hours by July...not difficult, just time consuming.
4 As always, give each of my boys the love, support, and attention they all individually need. This is listed 4th, but - as always - reigns first in priority. Today is Baby Boy#1's 4th birthday. For those of you who've been around for a while, perhaps you already know - it's a wonderful, emotional day. I'm very proud of my sweet birthday boy.

I'm excited for this year. I have a good feeling good things are to come.

Happy (much belated) New Year IWSG!