Monday, February 28, 2011

Difficult But Beautiful Books

I've read two books in the last few weeks that have really affected me. I'm a huge fan of the Printz award, so when the new books were announced, I immediately downloaded Nothing by Janne Teller (yay, Kindle!).

I'd been looking forward to reading Nothing because it was compared to Lord of the Flies, which I just finished teaching with my honors 9 students. I go over Golding's idea of the potential for evil inside everyone repeatedly with them and wanted to see how Janne pulled it off.

All I can say is wow. She packed a punch that I didn't see coming and it continued to hurt more and more as I went deeper into the story.

The book centers around seventh graders and while at first it seems innocent, it eventually sees impossible to go on.

But....she makes you want to read on.

There was no way I could stop reading this book (especially since Golding's idea of the potential for evil is very evident in this book) and the end leaves you gasping. Seriously. I put it aside when I finished it and sat for at least twenty minutes just thinking about it. The story haunts you.

I recently recommended Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls to a bunch of my students, but I warned them of the same thing. It's a hard book. There might be times when you want to stop, but the story stays with you and it's very very powerful.

Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl is another great example.

I love books like this. I think it shows the true talent of a writer to be able to give us a difficult story that at the same time can be written in a beautiful way. It's a bit of an oxymoron, but a talent that I find incredible.

Have you read books like this? Books that you want to stop, but you can't. What are they? I'd love to hear your views!

And don't forget to enter my DIVERGENT arc contest. I'll pick a winner a week from today. Each time you re-tweet, blog or Facebook, you get more entries. You can let me know if the comments if you do! Good luck!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Said I'd Never Do It, But I Did...

What do you think of my new clutch....

Oh was turned the wrong way. It's not a purse...

It's a case for my new Kindle! With pockets in the side to stick papers, credit cards, pens and other goodies!

What do you think? My mom made it and I told her she needs to sell the on etsy. Would you buy one?

Speaking of ebook readers...

I am a self proclaimed book snob. I buy books like they're going out of style, when I moved I had 19 boxes of books and always like to check out what other people are reading. The librarians all knew my name when I was growing up and as soon as I was old enough, I got a job at the library. I majored in English in undergrad, graduate school and now I'm getting my MFA.
Books are my life.

That's why I swore I'd never get a Kindle. I couldn't imagine reading off of a device where you don't turn pages or have a cover in color. How would I mark up the text? Wouldn't I miss the smell of a new book?

I openly dissed Kindles whenever I had the chance.

Until my mom got me one for my birthday.

Now I'm in love!

Seriously! I love love love it!

It's light, saves my place, I slip it in my bag when I'm going place and I can buy books whenever I want. It only takes a few seconds! I feel like I'm going through books a lot faster now (although I'm not sure why) and I love being able to search for a new book or buy one the day it comes out when I wake up (hello, Like Mandarin....I can't wait to do that next week).

While I'd never never give up a physical book, I'm a believer. I love my kindle.

What about you? Do you have an ebook reader? What are your thoughts on it?

And don't forget to enter my DIVERGENT arc contest. I'll pick a winner a week from today. Each time you re-tweet, blog or Facebook, you get more entries. You can let me know if the comments if you do! Good luck!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Balancing reading for a MFA program, my high school curriculum and books I want to read is no easy task. It was made impossibly hard this last week when I picked up my ARC of Veronica Roth's book DIVERGENT.

I couldn't put it down, which was a bad thing because I had to because I had other books that had to be read within a certain time frame.

I did all my reading assignments (yay me!), so now I can focus on DIVERGENT again. I'm about two-thirds of the way done and the book is amazing. Like incredible awesome and glorious! I'm loving the world Veronica's established, the characters and plot. Gush, gush, gush!

A book like this isn't meant to be kept to myself. I was lucky enough to win a copy ahead of time, and I only feel that it's right to pass that luck on.

So....I'm giving away my ARC. That's will have the chance to read the book two months early. Woo hoo!

The rules are simple:

1) You have to be a follower. Just click on the right.

2) You need to share a tatoo that you want or have. The characters in DIVERGENT have some pretty sweet tattoos, so it got me thinking about what kind of ink my blog readers might be sporting (or wanting to!). Share, share, share!

3) You get points every time you blog, tweet or Facebook about the contest. You may do this as often as you want, just fill out a new entry with the link each time. The more you spread the word, the more chances you get!

You have until SUNDAY, MARCH 6th at MIDNIGHT. I'll announce a winner that Monday (and share some of my favorite tattoos).

Good luck!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hemingway Unblocks Writer's Block

I'm taking a course in my MFA program that semester that focuses on nonfiction writing in the 1960's. I'm loving the class (so far we've read Baldwin and Plath and there are a bunch of amazing writers in the coming weeks).

This week we had to read Hemingway's A Movable Feast. The book is about his time writing in Paris. It's full of anecdotes (including chapters with F Scott Fitzgerald!) and writing advice. I love hearing about Hemingway's life, especially after I learned so much about him on my trip to Key West two years ago.

Hemingway talks about the process of sitting down and writing and sometimes not knowing how to start. I'm sure we have all had those days. Those moments of writer's block where we just can't get anything out. He shares an ingenious plan that makes perfect sense to me.

Hemingway writes, "I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day." advice ever. Seriously. It makes perfect sense. Stop writing when you know what you're going to write next. I totally understand that and am going to make it a point to start practicing that habit.

What do you think? Would it work for you? Do you have any other good advice for those moments of writer's block?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back From My Writing Break!

After three weeks off of writing (except for the late night synopsis marathon), I'm writing again. The break was great, but writing is even better!

I packed up my MacBook and headed to Barnes and Noble to work at the Starbucks. It was good to be spending a Sunday at one of my favorite places.

I'm working on my second novel, The Fields, but I've approached these revisions in an unusual way. It's been over five months since I've really spent a lot of time on it. I had to put it aside while I got Canary into shape for it's second round of submissions. Today, instead of just jumping right back into it, which would be next to impossible to me, I did something that many might think is crazy.

I printed it out, put it in a binder and I'm typing it all over again from the start. All 180+ pages of it!

Crazy, right?

Maybe, but it's the only way I can really get back into the story. And I figure I'll make revisions along the way. I have hand written sheets that I can now add more seemlessly into the book now too.

I really think that it will help. I was able to type for a long time and feel like I've disconnected from my old book and am now immersed in this one. Yay!

What about you? Are there crazy methods that you have used when you're writing?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

YA In The Classroom

For those of you who don't know know me by my day job, I teach high school English. This is our department's review and revise year which means that we get to test and purchase new books! I'm proposing adding some YA novels into my classroom (so my students aren't just reading the classics).

There are a lot of books I would love to add (especially Looking for Alaska, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian), but YA books often cover content that make it more difficult to be accepted into the classroom.

I've been working with our librarian and right now I will be proposing the adding of Stolen (Lucy Christopher), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Marcelo in the Real World (Francisco Stork) and The Things a Brother Knows (Dana Reinhardt).

These books all connect to other "classics" that we read in my class and social issues that we discuss. They are high interest books and will get my students reading and looking at literature that connects to their current world.

What do you think?

Are there any contemporary YA books that I left out that you would recommend?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blog Interview

Dorothy Drey over at WE DO WRITE posted an interview of me. Check out her blog if you have the chance; she's doing a really awesome thing for unpublished writers.

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day! I'm still full of chocolate and great blog posts filled with lots of kisses!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Kiss! The Kiss!

Is it bad luck to post excerpts from a book that's on submission? I hope not because I couldn't help but sharing this scene for Valentines.

Christina at Write-Brained and Stina at Seeing Creative are hosting a Valentine's blogfest focused guessed it, the kiss! Check out the list of participants listed on either of their blogs.

Here is Kate and Jack's first kiss. There's no set-up (because hopefully one day you'll get to read the book and I want you to be surprised when), I figure I'll just let them go at it!

“Don’t worry, it’s okay, Kate. I was joking. You don’t have to look so serious,” he said. “I wondered when you were going to show up.”

My head snapped back up. “You were looking for me?” The words tumbled out before I could stop them.

“Of course I was looking for you. Why do you think I mentioned the party? After all, we have some history. We spent the night together.”

“We did, didn’t we? I wanted to see you here too,” I said quietly, unexpected courage surging in me.

“We did.” His hand found mine and then, the two of us were moving towards each other, and suddenly like the night outside our hotel, talking to Jack became nothing.

The memory of the first time we talked, the cold bench, his warm sweatshirt, the early morning, were erased.

The conversation we had outside the hotel wasn’t important.

The feel of his hand on my back when he had caught me from falling off the wall was just slight pressure, brushed away from memory.

The solidness in his hand when he helped me up from the wall erased.

Because nothing came close, not an inch or an ounce to what it felt like when Jack kissed me.

Smokey breath met sour beer.

Chapped lips met glossy moist.

Exploring curious tongue met smooth white teeth.

Rough firm hands met sweaty moist palms.

Bristly itchy cheek met red-flamed blush.

Jack met Kate.

Kate met Jack.

We broke apart.

We stood still.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For Those Late Night Readers...

If you're home on a Saturday night like me (I've got a hot date with a stack of papers that need grading!) and catching up on your blog reading, then you're in luck!

Rach Writes is having a cool networking crusade. You can only sign up until midnight tonight, so hurry!

She states,

"We have the passion and the drive to make it, but…we could all do with a bit of support.
So I started thinking. What if we link all these people together? What if we create a way to meet people in a similar position, people who genuinely want to help build our online platform while at the same time building theirs? People who want to pay it forward in the spirit of writerly writerness and blogging beautificity (and see it come back to them in turn)."

I totally dig her rational and think a lot of you will too!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Good News, Bad News and Pearls!

My agent sent me an e-mail this afternoon updating me about an editor request. She wanted both my manuscript and a synopsis.

Good news, right?


I didn't have a synopsis that reflected the revisions I had made on my novel. Doh!

I rushed home from work and settled down for a few hours of writing to revise my old synopsis.

I started working and realized that while I changed out of my work clothes, I still had on the pearl bracelet I had worn to work.

So I just went for it. Because we all know how classy it is to write in pajama pants and pearls!

Here's my modeling shot...

And my action shot...

And for those have followed my blog for awhile, you'll know that today isn't the first time I've worn pearls while writing. Here I am about a year ago stressing over a scene!

Now please excuse me. I need to give my synopsis one more read through before I hit send, take my pearls off and go to bed!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hello, Gorgeous

I love shoes.

When I moved into our new house, I counted 46 pairs of just fall/winter shoes.

It's a bit much, I know, but how can you not love shoes?!?

So today's non-writing day (remember....I'm now starting the second week of my two week writing detox) was spent shopping with my mom and sister. The goal was to find a mother of the bride dress that didn't look matronly (my mom rocked the dresses at BCBG today), but I couldn't help but try on the shoes I'm dying to get for my wedding.

The Logan Glitter d'Orsay pumps by Jimmy Choo.

In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, "Hello, Gorgeous..."

You can see them in all their glory here.

So I had this dream that I could work to save up for them by doing extra supplemental jobs at work and selling some of my fingerless gloves on etsy. It's a ridiculous splurge so there is no way that I'd go into my savings for the shoes.

I had to try on a bigger pair today because Saks didn't have my size. The salesman checked other stores and informed me that there are only five pairs left in my size in the world! THE WORLD! FIVE PAIRS! He told me it's Jimmy Choo's way of keeping the shoes very exclusive.

Waa waa!

Something tells me I might have to start lusting over another (uhm...cheaper) pair of shoes! Dang it all!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowed In But I Don't Care

I'm snowed in here in Cleveland. School has been canceled for the last two days and it's way too cold to venture far out of the house.

I don't mind, though. I have something to keep me busy.

Something a bunch of you probably want to.

I have an arc of Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT!

How awesome is that!?! It's not coming out until May, but I have it now! Woo-hoo!

Now please excuse me while I go and read. If you're getting hit by the storm too, please stay warm!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Singing (err...Writing) in the Shower!

I think I've blogged about where I get my writing inspirations before. One of my number one places is in the shower. I read something once about the water charging neurons which makes your brain more active. Hmmm...not sure if that's true, but I come up with a lot of ideas while showering, through on my robe after and try to jot them down in my journal without dripping all over. It's kind of funny.

This may be one of the best new products I've found out there. Aqua Notes!

It's a waterproof notebook and pencil made especially for those ideas that strike in the shower. I'm totally getting it.

My novel may thank me, however I'm not sure how my water bill will look if I'm writing in the shower!