Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Juggling Chainsaws and Flaming Swords

There are times, like the opening (and closing, for that matter) of school, when I just don't have enough hours in the day to get everything that I need to get done. With so many balls in the air (or chainsaws and flaming swords, depending on what day it is), I have a very hard time setting my priorities.

For example, this weekend, with just a mere inkling of what I was going to teach my students this week, I threw my hands in the air and decided to forget about it and work on my WIP. Now, that turned out to be incredibly productive for me writing-wise: a breakthrough in a sticky plot point that I really needed to move forward move forward, a character stepping up and taking charge like I wanted him to (and another getting herself kidnapped...oops), and 4k written on Sunday. Needless to say, I was thrilled about it.

However, I had just the barest idea of what I was going to do with my students come Monday. Review literary terms? Sure. We'll do that. Luckily, I'm not a first (or second) year teacher and I'm a pretty good pantser when it comes to teaching (and writing, for that matter). But now I'm behind again, with a stack of papers to grade and my MC clamoring at me to tell his story.


Thank goodness there's a DVR in my life to catch all the summer series finales while I work on getting both my school and writing act together! Unlike mine, I hope your work and writing life (if they're not one in the same) mesh beautifully. Later! Got to go write (lesson plans or WIP...that is the question).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bad, bad girl!

(Oh, lord, hope that blog title doesn't bring in the pervs!)

Yes, I've been a very bad girl. Not posting for almost a week and not actually writing anything for longer...terrible. But I have a wonderful excuse. School started.

Because I tend to do as little as possible that's school-related over the summer, the first couple weeks--and weekends--of the new school year I'm swamped. I'm planning, organizing, grading and basically trying to get back on a work schedule versus summer schedule.

My writing totally suffers. I really, really want to write but I can't because I have 100+ students who will tear the place apart if I don't have a plan for them. (I love 'em but middle schoolers have incredibly short attention spans and large mouths...all gossip & distraction. *headdesk*)

This weekend. This weekend will be MINE! (I hope.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Winner of BODY WORK!

Yahoo! A winner for 
Sara Paretsky's BODY WORK!

Lucky number 29: JEMI FRASER!!

Congratulations--I've sent you an email.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

GIVEAWAY: ARC of BODY WORK by Sara Paretsky

A fan of Sara Paretsky and her kick-butt main character, V.I. "Vic" Warshawski for quite a long time, I'm really looking forward to her newest release, BODY WORK, which comes out at the end of the month. Vic's a tough chick, a seriously awesome P.I., and all-around great character. If you haven't read any of Paretsky's V.I. novels and you like mysteries, you've got to check them out.

“Doctors take days off—why not P I’s?” V I Warshawski demands.  But when America’s hardest-working private eye goes clubbing, a stranger is shot, and dies in V I’s arms.
V I has been visiting Club Gouge, Chicago’s edgiest night spot, where a woman known as the Body Artist turns her naked body into a canvas for the audience to paint on.  The show attracts all kinds of people, from a menacing off-duty cop, to Ukrainian mobsters, Iraqi war vets—and V I’s impetuous cousin Petra.  A tormented young painter shows up, too, and the intricate designs she creates on the Body Artist drives one of the vets into a violent rage.
When the painter is shot, the cops figure it’s an easy collar—PTSD vet goes off the rails, stalks, then kills young woman.  But the vet’s family hires V I to clear his name, and the detective uncovers a chain of ugly truths that stretch all the way from Iraq to Chicago’s south side.

I'm super-excited that I have an extra ARC of BODY WORK, coming out at the end of the month--and it's for you! All you have to do is fill out my handy-dandy little form below (yay--I learned how to use Google Docs AND imbed the form! Woot). Contest ends next Saturday (Aug. 21). Good luck!

UPDATE: Looks like my spreadsheet title got cut off. Oops (and darn!). I'm also running this contest on my book review blog, The Book Swarm. We review primarily YA over there but enjoy mysteries, travel memoirs, and a bunch of other stuff, too! So, if you're a follower of both, you get extra points--yay!

ARC Giveaway: BODY WORK by Sara Paretsky
Open to residents of US and Canada only (sorry, international folks!). 
Contest ends August 21 @5pmEST.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Day...of Teacher Training!

Today was the first day of my eleventh year of teaching. Pausing here in shock. How the heck did I get ten years of teaching under my belt? Good lord, I've got to say (again) how fast the time goes. I don't know how your school district does it but ours has five days of teacher training (inservices) and workdays before the kiddies come to school (they come next Thursday whether we're ready or not). During those days, we learn about such exciting things as reviewing the sexual harassment policy, religion in school (no-no, unless you're teaching something like world religions), OSHA training (that's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for all you office types who get to avoid learning about how to avoid blood-borne pathogens and puke), discipline and all that lovely stuff.

Now, our school has a reputation for being a pretty tight-knit group, and we usually do something stupid-fun at the beginning of school, for camaraderie and to re-establish our bonds as teachers (very important when the turkeys get you down). When we had money, we did laser tag or go-carting or went for a boat trip on the lake. Nowadays, we make our own fun, usually in the form of making a fool of ourselves a la eighth grade talent show. This year, our (random) group was appointed the "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" group. Cyndi Lauper! Yahoo! We copied the video and danced around like girls who wanted to have fun. And it wasn't too terrible. We had some stupid-fun.

I think, sometimes, we get so focused on things in our lives, whether it's a goal or a job or whatever, whether we started it because we loved it or because we had to, that we forget to have fun. So, stop and do something stupid-fun today or this week. Remember why we're here in this world.  Have a good time with those in your life. Go have fun!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How time flies!

Can you believe it's already August? Almost time to head back to school (which I'm both dreading and excited about at the same time. Probably much like my students!). And, of course, there are the school supplies.

What is it about school supplies? Even when I wasn't teaching, in the years between college and going back to college to get my teaching degree (I know. Even now my mother rolls her eyes, an "I told you so" that I should have double-majored in Communications and Education. *sigh*), I loved heading into the store and stocking up on notebooks, pens, markers, anything that caught my fancy.

Back-To-School time is a chance to start over, with a clean plate. Didn't do so well last year? Well, you have the chance to fill those notebooks up with everything you need to know so you'll do better this year. Never had what you needed? Huh, look at this fancy-dancy organizer that will hold notes for all your subjects, a place for handouts and your writing utensils.

I take it as an opportunity to reorganize myself. Not everything, of course. But something important. This year, I'm bound and determined to carve out a specific writing time. (Also on the to-do list is to schedule a specific exercise time, too, but then that's always on my list) Now, this isn't going to always work because there are meetings and open houses and stuff like that but, if I can set a schedule for myself, I think I can be a lot more productive than I have been in the past. Plopping down with my laptop in front of the TV is all well and good but I'm not "reaching my potential". (Uhg, I do hate that expression, though I tend to use it a lot in parent conferences. Like, your child is not reaching his/her potential. Read: your kid is failing because he/she is more interested in texting and gossiping than doing his/her work.) I want to do more.

So, what about you--are you a specific writing time/goal/word count kind of person or do you write when the mood strikes?

Monday, August 2, 2010

How do you get your write on?

Some people can write anywhere, anytime. Put a computer (or a pad of paper, if you're the old-school type) in front of them and they can bang out a pile of words. Me? Not so much. I need what Beth Revis over at Writing It Out calls "Tools of the Trade".

My Tools of the Trade are:

Bic crystal blue pens--and lots of them (I've been writing with these since I was in middle school. Love 'em!)

A composition notebook--this is where I do all my planning, notes, basic and/or semi-detailed outline, collage of pictures and inspiration

My MacBook--filled with MacLove! This is my biggest writing tool.

Internet connection--used for quick research and, of course, quick Twitter visits! (procrastination, thy name is Interwebz)

Sound--well, either the TV is on, with episodes of Firefly, Castle, or another show that I've already seen several times or I've got to have silence. I have way too much tendency to sing along with music or, yanno, attempt to dance.

Fuel--Diet Coke or Crystal-Lite-spiked water, Cheese Its, chocolate, Extra peppermint gum

My dogs underfoot--Finn likes to sleep under my desk or curled up on the cool tile of the fireplace and Fiona likes to sleep under the bed (if I'm writing in the office--don't know why she doesn't like that room but she doesn't) or between my char and the ottoman.

What do you need to get into writing mode?