Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Promises

So, I gave you my 2012 wrap up and those were super exciting. (insert laugh) 

So, today is a new day, tomorrow is a new year, so now I give you…my New Year's Promises. 

These are not resolutions, per se, but promises to myself, for myself, by myself. Why promises and not resolutions? Well, for one, I like to mix it up. Dare anyone ever call me a follower. I am not. I march to my own beat. Always have, always will. People either love me, or ignore me. Either is fine with me. I will never be just like anyone else. And why should I? Or anyone for that matter?

I digress…the definition of resolution is the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones, answering, or solving. There are other sure, like mathematical resolutions, literary resolutions, scientific resolutions, and even political resolutions. My point is, I am not breaking anything into simpler parts. Oh no. I am instead trying to alter parts or add parts to the already existing or broken parts. I will not be resolving anything this year. 

I will promise. Promise is defined as a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified. Yes. This. Promises are something intimate and binding. They are things that, if done, can change a life. So this is what I will do. I owe myself this much. I will make myself promises for the coming year. 

And I am writing them here, posting for all to see, so you all (as well as me) can hold me accountable. If you see me violating or breaking my promises, please call me on it. I mean it. That's what friends and fellow humans do. They lend a hand. 

Here we go, in no particular order.

I will finish my WIP and write a second Women's Fiction manuscript.
I will continue to query the hell out of Princess Paradox.
I will write every day…okay, maybe 5 out of 7 days. Even if it is a paragraph.
I will attend one writer's conference.
I will not be afraid of agents. They are people too.
I will visit at least 3 of the writer friends I have made.
I will not compare myself to other writers or other published books.
I will blog more.
I will read at least one book for fun a month. (I read a lot as a teacher already)
I will be the best damn teacher I can be. Those kids need me, and I need them. And on the days where I want to come home and cry, I will remember why I became a teacher in the first place.
I will try to believe in myself more.
I will start running again until I get to the point where I can run 3-4 miles regularly (like I used to)
I will embrace my new found independence without fear and try to risk more.
I will put my heart out there, even if it means it gets broken.
I will make the amount of time I spend with my daughter quality time.
I will laugh more.
I will continue to love hard. Because otherwise, what's the point?
I will try not to obsess over things I cannot control.
I will believe that life has a way of working out, things may not turn out how you planned, but there is a reason for it.
I will look at rejection as a new opportunity.
I will do random acts of kindness for strangers at least once a week.
I will call my dad more.
I will call my friends more.
I will spend more time doing things for me.
I will explore my world more.
I will do something that scares me at least once a month. 
I will try to give myself a break. (thanks Jules!)
I will not give up if I do not get an agent.
I will have faith that this amazing thing that I have WILL work out. 
I will pray more and doubt less.

So, that's all. Not much. I have a lot of work to do this next year…but everything is possible, right?

Happy New Year to all of you. May it be blessed with all the wonders and joy this world can bring. Love to you.

So, in the words of Semisonic:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Out with the old...

12 o'clock,timepieces,holidays,household,midnight,New Years,special occasions,hours,minutes,hands

 So, it has been a while since my last blog. I am so sorry. But it has been a crazy time. If you would have asked me this time last year, what I would be doing, I probably would have said, "Nothing. Just the same old, same old."

Ohhhhh, last year's Carey. You were sooooo wrong. So very very wrong.

So the year in review:

children,crowns,people,princesses,royalties,personal appearances
I finished my MS, The Princess Paradox. It took 3 years in the making, and I almost quit a few times. But fortunately, some wonderful students I had gave me the push to get it done. I will forever be indebted to my first beta readers…Jenny, Kennedy, Skye, Brittney, and Mary. To hear them squeal in excitement was amazing. Each day, I would bring in a chapter for them to read. They would sit side by side during independent reading and, like an assembly line, they would read it page by page, gasping and "awwwww"ing at all the appropriate times. I love those girls.

I queried the heck out of my MS, joined some contests and that led me to the next great moment of my life. Don't laugh. Really. Here goes…I joined Twitter. Okay…I will wait for the laughter to cease. Are you done? Okay.

It started out as a way to stalk a few slush pile readers when I joined Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness. I watched the tweets of lovelies: Shelley Waters, Dee Romito, Summer Heacock, Stephanie Diaz, and so many others. Boy was I surprised and flattered as all get out that one Miss Summer and one Miss Dee had been secretly stalking ME! We became fast friends and now I could not imagine my life without them. That evolved into a twitterfest which has me now at over 400 followers as well as some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I can't believe such a small thing like Twitter can make things of this magnitude happen. Not only do I tweet and email with many of these people, I actually chat on the phone and have plans to meet them. IN REAL LIFE. I have to also shout out to my twinsie Erica Chapman who's blog was the host to my PitchMadness entry. I now love her and we chat quite often. 

Because fellow writers just "get" each other. It's nice to know that if I ever need a CP or Beta reader, all I have to do is call upon my fellow writers and it will happen like BOOM! If you have yet to join this community of writers, you must. They lift me up, encourage me, make me laugh, and are there for me whenever I call. Oh...and follow me. Because I'm cool like that. 

My mom inherited a small two bedroom place in Berkeley, so another thing I got to do was visit my MS's main character, Nora's hometown of San Francisco. I even saw and took pictures of the spot where her coffee shop was and saw the address I used for her house. So, that was cool. Plus, I really fell in love with San Francisco. Left my heart there, actually. Okay…I didn't, that was just for comedic effect.

I began no less than 2 new WIP. 

  • One, titled The Thief, I have tabled for a bit, but I love the feel of it. I have the outline and the first 3 chapters or so written. It's kind of a YA contemporary romance, but with definite thriller bits. Laryn, my MC is a cat burglar along with her father. When they move to the wealthy Newport Beach area, she enrolls in school to find her next gig. She decides her next target is the home of the very popular and very rich football hero. Too bad she gets caught in the middle of a robbery. But he has secrets of his own he wants kept. And Laryn has unintentionally discovered them. So they vow to protect each other's secrets. But what about their hearts?

  • The other WIP is Speechless. A YA Fairy Tale retell of The Little Mermaid. I am currently 43 k into that one. I love it. For more info, see my previous post in which I was tagged.

I now have two kitties. So there's that.

I was Maid of Honor at my one of my best friend's weddings and hung out with her in Colorado this summer. That was fun! Never been to Denver. It was Aurora, actually. As in THE AURORA. I saw the theater where that tragedy happened. And the flowers and support. 

I also went on a cruise to Alaska.

Also, here's a big one not many people know but will soon...I am recently single. A single mom. Yep...I know guys will be lining up. Because they love women with kids. (insert sarcasm here) Especially when the daughter is a smart, sassy, and miss independent-will-tell-you-what-exactly-she-thinks-about-everything-whether-you-want-her-to-or-not. I guess if a guy can handle that plus me, he's a keeper. 

So, that's it. My year in review. I don't yet know what is on the road in front of me. As Robert Frost so eloquently put it:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 Pretty exciting, huh? J

My New Year's Resolutions post will be coming soon. 

How was your year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This I Believe

I was planning for an observation in my classroom today. And so naturally, looking through things, I got sidetracked. Story of my life. Anyway, as I rummaged around, I found this little ditty. Well, it's not actually a ditty. Not even about Jack and Diane.

It is an example paper I wrote, a narrative to use as an example for my students. As I reread it, I realized...I need to post this. It's a great little insight to who I am, my experiences as a kid, and what I firmly believe. If you have not yet visited the This I Believe website, shame on you. Go. Read. Be inspired. Write your own.

Here is my This I Believe Paper.

Turning on the Light

I was an awkward twelve year old. I had dark brown unruly hair, thick glasses, and was a bit on the pudgy side. All this and a pair of braces too. With head gear no less. I was a normal tween with hopes and dreams. For example, would Javier ever notice me? Will I get to go a concert with my friends? Is my friend mad at me? I also had one nagging question always in the back of my mind. Will people like me? This is the question that haunted me and governed over everything I did in middle school.  

You see, one thing I understand about all people, is that whether or not they will admit it, it is a universal truth that all humans want to be loved and accepted and to know that they are normal. Everything that we do is to help us gain acceptance. Whether we want to become a famous novelist, or a doctor, or a musician or a cosmetologist; we all want to be liked and appreciated. 

I remember what it was like to walk the halls of middle school. I always was wondering who was saying what about me, if the laughing I heard was at my expense, or if I was going to be teased. I wasn’t pretty or good at sports, or a top student. I was ordinary. Nothing special. Except in Mr. Akamine’s class. 

Mr. Akamine taught choir. I was an alto. I hated it. I wanted to be a soprano because they always got the melody of the song. The alto always sounded boring. It reminded me of a whale’s bellow. Sometimes, Mr. Akamine had this habit of calling on random people to come up to the front and sing on the microphone. I remember trembling at the thought of going up there. 

And then one day it happened. He called on me. I couldn’t refuse. There I stood, feeling naked and embarrassed, ready to be laughed at. Another joke people could make fun of.

I took a deep breath and began singing the lyrics to Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong, his favorite. I sat there singing for what seemed to be ages. When I finished, I remember it being so quiet. Mr. Akamine looked at me and smiled. “You have a beautiful voice, Carey.” 

I beamed. I was so happy. I looked out at my fellow classmates, and they were so quiet. They began clapping. My face flushed. When I got to my seat, people by me patted me on the back and said things like “good job“, and “way to go“. 

From that point on I became a regular in front of the class. Perhaps that is why I like performing in front of people. That applause was so uplifting. From that day on, I felt like there was one thing I could do…sing. Now, I may not be any Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift, and I did not go on to star in the high school musical or have solos in the concerts, but the one thing Mr. Akamine gave me was a belief in myself. That I was worthwhile. I had talent and most important, he liked my singing, which to my middle school mind meant he liked me. I also got acceptance from my peers. At least for a little while.

I believe a good teacher can do that. A good teacher can give strength to those that need it. A good teacher can see the light in every one of their students and try, and sometimes succeed, to let that light shine. A good teacher gets branded in the hearts and minds of those they teach. I can’t recall the teachers who made me miss my bus after school. Or the ones that gave me detention or Saturday school. I have no recollection of my kindergarten teacher or my fifth grade teacher. The ones that are engrained in my mind, Mr. Akamine, Mr. Sisman, Mr. McCormick, are the ones who saw me not as a student, but as someone who offered something special to the world. These are the ones that shaped me. 

I believe that every encounter with every individual leaves marks on our soul, and they help us, for better or for worse, become who we are today. I believe each person carries the echoes of all the people that have entered and left their lives. Which is why, at the end of the day, I want all my students to understand that I see the special in them. I see their gifts. And after all…I like each and every one of them.
So...what do YOU believe? Write it.