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2010

Usually, on New Year's Eve, I write a journal entry chronicling my year and making resolutions for the new year to come. I didn't do that last night. But I was thinking about it.

At first, I couldn't think of any accomplishments that might have qualified as satisfying my 2009 resolutions (of course, I couldn't remember WHAT they were . . .). However, I realized this morning that I completed first drafts on TWO YA novels in 2009, which is a MAJOR accomplishment. I also took the initiative to join the RWA and its local chapter, the Florida Romance Writers, so that's an accomplishment too. Though I didn't lose weight in 2009, I didn't GAIN either, so that's something to be semi-proud of. So while 2009 wasn't the most productive year in a decade that saw me buy my own condo, earn a bachelor's degree, lose 75 pounds (unfortunately those found me again and brought some friends), change careers, join the SCBWI and make writer friends, and have a relationship that lasted almost a year and a half, it was still a pretty good year.

I have two goals for 2010. The first is personal - I am going to get my body back to a healthy weight. I bought myself a Wii Fit for Chanukah and am going to use that to supplement the gym membership that my insurance company provides, and I promise to myself to improve my eating habits. I was a Weight Watchers leader for five years, and successfully lost weight on the program - I WILL do it again. I may not go to meetings this time around, but I know the program works. And I do NOT want to be the fat American in Europe when my friend Robin and I go on our European cruise in June of THIS YEAR!!!

The second goal is professional. I want 2010 to be the year I achieve representation for my YA novels. I'm so close I can TASTE it . . . and this is going to by MY YEAR! I'm going to work on revising Don't Touch Me based on some suggestions I've received, and submitting Dying to Live. I'm also starting to work with a new idea for an adult romance I thought of a couple of weeks ago. Branching out, even though YA is still my first love.

So that's it. I'm only setting two goals/resolutions for this year, and I am going to concentrate on ME for 2010. I have a nasty habit of putting everyone else's needs before my own, and I am NOT doing that this year. I'm going to be selfish! Me first, then everyone else.

Happy New Year!

Bad LJer . . . good writer

I realized it's been a bazillion years (okay, not really) since I posted last. The good news is, while I wasn't blogging, I was writing an AMAZING novel. The novel, DYING TO LIVE, is about a teenage hypochondriac named Sara who is in love with a boy, Allan, who has leukemia. I finished the novel a couple of weeks ago and am very happy with the first draft, as are the members of my critique group who have heard the first five chapters already.

November's almost here, and with it will come National Novel Writing Month. This year, for the first time, I'm the Municipal Liason for Fort Lauderdale. It's a volunteer position but it will keep me busy, which is a good thing since my boyfriend broke up with me a couple of weeks ago. I'm okay with it. I realized that I've been holding on to him because I didn't really want to be alone. I love him and we will remain friends (I even went to Metallica with him last night), but we weren't right long term, and deep-down, I knew that. Onward and UPward!

This year I'm my school's Debate teacher and coach. Something else to occupy my time. And today, a colleague from school and I booked our summer vacation for June - a Mediterranean Greek Isles 12-night CRUISE! I'm so excited. It leaves from Barcelona and goes to Sicily, Rome, Florence, Naples, Kusadasi (Turkey), Mykonos, Athens, and Provence. I've never been to Europe so I'm especially excited to be going with someone with European travel experience.

I will try to write more often. I'm still subbing Don't Touch Me. I have two fulls and a partial out with agents and am in the waiting game. I plan to start revising Dying to Live shortly so I can have the first chapter completely tight for the Miami Conference in January.

Emotional Attachment

This morning, a student I had last semester came to my classroom to give me news of her classmate, in case I hadn't heard (I hadn't). Apparently, yesterday morning, on campus, right in front of the main office, a student attempted suicide by drinking a bottle of bleach.

Yes, you read that correctly.

This particular student was exemplary. A talented poet, well-mannered, polite - the kind of student every teacher wants to have. Always volunteered to share his warm-up writing and it was SO GOOD no one else wanted to follow. This was a kid who would go places.

After my student left, I was standing in front of my first block class with no clue what to say. My mouth was frozen, my heart in pain. I managed to get the lump out of my throat and begged my current students to not go that route - if something was weighing too heavily on them, PLEASE find someone to talk to. I told them my own experience with suicidal thoughts and the boy who betrayed my confidence . . . the best thing that could have happened.

I e-mailed the guidance director at lunch to verify the story and she did. Yes, he drank the bleach, yes, he's in the hospital. I went to see her and she said both I and another teacher had the same reaction to the news, which, she said, was good for the student; to learn when (if) he comes back to our school that these two teachers were heartsick over his suicide attempt.

I try not to beat myself up because there were NO red flags. He was always smiling, always polite, always doing what was expected of him. Which leads me to worry even more about this type of student . . . what's going on behind their facade that they DON'T show?

When (if) my student comes back to our school, I hope the guidance counselor tells him that I asked about him. I hope he comes to see me. I want to give him a hug (even if I'm not supposed to) and tell him next time, come TALK to me. Or someone. There's nothing so bad that you need to end your own life.

Because the truth is, it's not the suicide that suffers, it's those that s/he leaves behind.

My 20 things

Today we had a presenter from Rachel's Challenge at our school. For anyone who doesn't know, Rachel Joy Scott was the first victim of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold nine years ago at Columbine High. Her legacy is a foundation that encourages students all over the globe to accept the challenge to change the world, one kindness at a time. It left me wanting to quit my job and go work for Rachel's Challenge.

However, since I'm likely not going to do that, I'm going to contribute to the 20 Things That Make Me Happy meme that's floating around:

1. I'm able to write this blog in the first place.
2. I like my job.
3. My students think I'm cool. :)
4. I finished NaNoWriMo despite the extreme odds this year.
5. I have an idea for a new book already.
6. I've been dating the same guy for six months and we're still happy.
7. I get to take my first ever cruise next weekend.
8. I get to travel over Winter Break - to see my best friend (19 years and counting!).
9. My novel is in the hands of an agent; I'm happy he requested the full.
10. I'm not in foreclosure.
11. Besides #2, I HAVE a job.
12. I have really good friends.
13. I am getting back in touch with old friends. Thank you, facebook!
14. I am happy my friends are getting book contracts (where's mine??).
15. I am happy that Florida Regional' SCBWI conference is next month.
16. Piggybacking on #15, I'm happy Lisa Yee's coming to talk about revision!
17. I'm alive and mostly well.
18. There are people in the world who believe that a little kindness goes a long way.
19. I found a great winter coat for $9.74 at the Salvation Army. (To travel with, of course!)
20. Most of all, I'm happy to have found my happiness. I spent too much of my life being unhappy.

Crossing Fingers

I was starting to get a little down on sending out agent queries for DTM, since all of them have been coming back as nos on either a query or query plus first chapter. I had two agents on my list that I hadn't heard back from, and it had been over a month, so I followed up on Friday. One agent e-mailed a form back that said if I don't hear from them after six weeks, consider they're not interested. The other, however, said he had actually responded and asked for my material! AARGH! How did the Internet gods NOT send that e-mail to my Inbox???

I sent him a full via e-mail this morning. Now we wait. I'm hopeful, since the initial contact was query, synop, and first chapter.

On the NaNo front, I've got to double up today since I didn't have time yesterday to write. At least I'm only one day behind; that's fairly easy to catch up on. I just wish I was ahead of the game like I've been every other year. Too much going on in my real life this year, I suppose.

Pain - literally

I got a new workout program last week - the FIRM's new toy, the WAVE. It's kind of like a step except it's an arc, and one side is "stable" but if you turn it over, you rock on it. It looked like fun, so I ordered it and started working out with it this week.

Well, tonight, I started the workout and the WAVE was on its "stable" side. Except for one minor detail - if you don't plant your foot directly in the center, it can flip over. Needless to say, I missed, it rose up and I lost my balance. Picture 6'1" 250+ pound me flailing uncontrollably until I landed hard on my tile floor and my head slammed into the leg of my dining room table. Talk about a HUGE ouch. I have to say, though, I was quite proud of myself for getting right back up, rubbing my sore derriere and hip (my head's pretty hard - I didn't seem to hurt IT), and going back carefully to the workout.

That's four days this week I've actually done a workout! Three days I did WAVE workouts, and on Election Day, I walked to my polling place and back. School pictures came back today and I'm so fat it's not even funny. Everyone says it's such a great picture, and technically, yes, it is a good picture, but I know what I look like when I'm not overweight and THAT'S the picture I want to see again.

I'm keeping up with NaNoWriMo even though I'm not ahead of the game like I was last year. Which reminds me - now that I've exercised, must get my 1667 words in for the day.

Off to write.

Procrastinating

I should be working on my NaNo book. I am on task to complete on November 30. I've been writing my 1667 words a day (actually, I screwed up a couple of days ago and only wrote 1640 - not sure how that happened). But I keep making the mistake of comparing this year to last year. Last year I finished my 50K novel in a little over two weeks.

However, last year, I taught three sections of creative writing. The advantage there was there was a LOT of in-class writing time, and I took advantage of it to write my NaNo while the kids were writing whatever they were working on. So I managed to write several hours a day.

This year: much more challenging. Teaching three sections of tenth grade English - no sneaking off to write during class time. Tuesday afternoons I have grad school. Wednesday I teach a Fiction Writing class at a community school. Thursday is my critique group. Short of sacrificing sleep (which I can't afford to do) or my new habit of actually exercising (don't want to do), I have to squeeze writing in catch as catch can.

As I said, today, I should be working on my NaNo. I took the day off for my cardiologist appointment, then got a lunch invite from my best friend and his father. So now I'm home. And I'm writing this blog instead of writing my stinking book.

Okay, I'm going, I'm going. Two hours of writing. That's the goal. Off to NaNo land.

Good Christ, it's November again

I feel completely unprepared for NaNo this year. I mean, I know it's all about the word vomit - get it down. But I have two unrelated characters vying for spaces in my head. They're both issue-driven novels, and I'm not 100% sure I want to do an angsty issue novel again this year. I loved writing Don't Touch Me last year and think it's one of my strongest novels like ever, but it took a lot out of me. And I also had prep done for it before November 1 arrived.

This year? In Character may be the novel of choice. Drama kids, promiscuity for the wrong reasons. But then I had a character whose best friend die of brain cancer pop up last week. She doesn't belong in In Character. But she wants to be written.

Yes, I know, we should all have such problems. Well, when I wake up in the morning, the first character to speak gets written for NaNo.

I hope one of them talks to me.

Internet!!

Last Sunday night, my modem decided it didn't want to work anymore. I called AT&T and they expedited a new one, which arrived on Wednesday. However, it wasn't until this afternoon that I was FINALLY able to reconnect to my virtual world. FOUR WHOLE DAYS without my Internet connection!

It wasn't as horrible as it could have been - I could check my e-mail accounts at work (at least until today - don't even ask), but sites like this one, MySpace, and Facebook are all blocked at school. So I'm a lot behind on my reading of blogs.

I don't think I realized until this week how dependent I am on the Internet. I couldn't pay my bills, I couldn't shop, I couldn't update my web site for my students . . . and that's just a few. On the bright side, I did take the time to write my query for Don't Touch Me (critiqued last night by my mentor and mailed out to an agent today). I'm excited about getting that MS out to the world. Now I have to start working on the next one. I have two in the works - one which is still just a collection of thoughts, the other has 22 pages of text already written.

Must find writing time. Lots of ideas cramming my head.

Live from LA . . .

or at least, at this moment, the San Fernando Valley. Day three of the conference is done. I've been enjoying it for the most part - the speakers are WONDERFUL (I have a literary crush on the amazing Bruce Coville -thank you Mindy) and it's fun to find the people I've met at the SCBWI LA conference over the past two years. However, my cousin took me to Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday, where I managed to totally kill my two big toes (blisters from hell UNDER the toenail - don't even ask) so I was hobbling around like the elderly after most of Friday and yesterday's sessions. Today I feel closer to my age - muscles are not screaming like banshees when I rise from the hotel chairs!

So far the highlights have been Bruce Coville's keynote, Rachel Cohn's and Jay Asher's breakout sessions, and the Paint the Town Red party last night (even though I always leave early since I have to drive back to the Valley). Looking forward to tomorrow morning's session with Bruce Coville - plotting isn't necessarily my strong point and I am ready to learn from what I hear is a master!

Tomorrow is my birthday, so LJ friends attending the conference who may be reading, do find me tomorrow to wish me many happy returns! :)

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