Friday, October 19, 2012

NANOWRIMO

 
I remember telling a friend a week ago that I was not going to participate in NANOWRIMO this year.  I have since reconsidered.  You may be wondering why.  For the last two years I have been doing background research for a novel.  I just couldn't seem to get it started.  Sitting in a conference this week the opening popped into my head.  I have started working on the outline so that when November 1st comes around I can write.  My last few posts had been about my characters for this book.  I just couldn't seem to get past that. I told my family today that I WOULD find time to fit writing into my day, every day.  I am so excited.  Why don't you join me?

Monday, October 8, 2012

How To Break Out of a Creative Rut

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Persuasive Writing

Most of my posts on here have to do with creative writing. Today's posts is advice for parents. I and one of two testing coordinators at my school.  We recently completed our first district writes test.  I use the first one to see how my sixth graders are as writers.  This first prompt was a persuasive piece.  I found that most of my students had little experience with writing persuasive essays.  It is sad because they did terrible.  However, knowing where they are can help them improve. 

I had the students use the same rubric I used and grade themselves.  I also had them make a list of things they saw they did incorrectly.  Next I conferenced with them.  The following day I gave them a copy of a high scored essay and we read it then worked our way backward creating a plan from it. 
Students used their old essay and created a plan allowing them to see gaps in their writing.  I had them rewrite the essay and turn them both along with the plan back in.  I am thrilled to say most of them have improved.  At an open house that week one of the parents publicly thanked me for showing their child the step by step process of writing a persuasive essay.

So, what can you as a parent do to help your child?  You say you aren't good at writing?  As your child for a copy of the rubric.  Sit with them and work through the process with them.  You can always ask the teacher for help.  Most of us are more than willing to help the parent.  We want our parents to be involved with their child's work.  Help edit, but do not rewrite the paper for them.  Your child learns nothing when you do the work for them.  The next writing they have to produce will find them struggling just like they did before. Pick a topic from the news and have them write about it.  Have them choose a side in an issue and stick to it.  Writing is not an easy process, but it is necessary.  I am looking forward to doing more with them.  They are looking forward to writing more narratives.  Who knows, maybe you will see some of them here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Character Stefan Meyer

Born August 14, 1966
Age 19
Border Guard
Light reddish blond hair, blue gray eyes



What is your happiest memory?
My happiest memory was the day I became a soldier.  I had be taught that this was one of the best jobs in the world.  I was proud to serve my country.  I felt really privileged to be among the elite and serve on the border.

What don’t you want anyone to find out about you?
I don’t want anyone to know how my views have changed.  What they taught us in school, and what I believed for so long is not completely true.  I have seen a lot  of things I can’t talk about.  It would put me and my family in danger.  I have to say that I am not real happy with my life right now.

What is the best part of your personality?
It is funny how people see you.  Because I am a border guard, some people see me as being cold hearted. I am the total opposite.  I am a caring, loving and really fun person to be around.  You just have to get to know me before I let people see the “fun” side of me.

How would your best friend describe how you look?
My best friend would describe me as being 5’11” tall.  I have red hair that is like a red tinted blond.  When I’m out in the sun a lot my hair gets lighter. My complexion is fair.  They would also tell you that I am the life of the party.  I know most people don’t see that side of me.  My friends know me as a practical joker.

What irritates you?
One thing that really irritates me is when people tell me what they “think” I want to hear instead of telling me the truth.  It seems like my world is filled with lies anymore.  There seems to be no trust.

Tell me about your family.
One of the reasons I became a border guard was because I had no family.  I’ve been on my own since I was seventeen.  Both of my parents were killed in an accident at a factory where they worked.  I was old enough to join the army and that is what I did.  They took care of my housing and everything else.  I am up for a promotion and I’ll be able to get a reclaimed state house.

What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror?
When I look in the mirror I see someone with a lot of confidence.  I have confidence in my ability to become whatever I want to be.  I am the only thing that can stand in the way of becoming a success.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me was a prank one of my friends played on me.  I had just been given my first weekend off.  My friends thought it would be very funny  to provide me with a cabin in the woods.  They said they had stocked it with some food.  When I got there I went in and put my things down.  I went to the refrigerator to get something to eat and there was a copy of orders for me to work that very weekend.  I threw all of my stuff back into my car and raced back to my post.  I rushed in to my commander’s office and apologized for the mix up.  I explained I was ready to fulfill my duty and accept whatever discipline was required.  I knew when I saw the way he was smirking that something was wrong.  He couldn’t hold it together.  He had been in on the prank.  My friends were always talking about how intense I was in my job and they thought it would be good to make me ease up a bit.  The orders were false.  I was so embarrassed that I had made such a big scene.  Everyone in the office was laughing at me.  They weren’t in on it but thought it was the funniest thing.  By the time I got back to the cabin I only had eighteen hours of leave left.  I learned to ease up a bit after that.

Do you have a crush on anyone?
I don’t have a girlfriend.  I am really focused on my career right now.  I figure one day I will find the right girl.  She’ll have to be pretty spunky and funny for me to fall for her.

What do you really, REALLY want more than anything else in the world?
I want to be the best person I can be.  I want to find out who that person is.  Right now I feel like I am just going through the motions.  After my parents died I just kind of lost myself.  I thought joining the army would tell me who I am.  After some of the things I’ve witnessed, I’m not really sure who I am.  I feel like I need to be a hero to someone but I don’t know who that someone is.

Is there anything you would die for?
I would die for my beliefs.  The problem is my belief system seems to be changing.  So, first I need to figure that out.

Is there anything you area really good at?
I am very good with planning, organizing, and working with my hands.  I love to build things on my days off.


This is how I envision Stefan.  Did I capture him?
Is there anything that you would like to know about him that
I may have left off?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Character Daniela Hoffmeyer


Born April 7, 1968  Age 17
Daughter of prominent Stasi Agent
Long Brown Hair, Green Eyes

What is your happiest memory?
My happiest memory was when my mother was still alive.  We didn’t have a lot of money at that time.  We would go on picnics down near the river every weekend.  Sometimes all we had was a sandwich and a piece of fruit with us. It seemed like it was the most delicious tasting food ever.  Maybe that was because we ALL seemed so happy then.

What don’t you want anyone to find out about you?
I try not to let people know that my father is head of our local Stasi.  Most people know this.  If I don’t tell them up front then I get to see the “real” them.  After they find out then everything changes.  They act like they are my friend but we no longer have that closeness.

What is the best part of your personality?
If  people would just get to know me they would learn that I am genuine and really friendly.  I don’t gossip.  Maybe that is because with my father being who he is I see what gossip can do.

How would your best friend describe how you look?
My best friend would describe me as about 5’5” with below the shoulder brown hair.  I have bangs because I have such a freakishly high forehead.  What is unusual is that I have green eyes like my mother.  My friends who had met my mother before she left us said that I look a lot like her.

What irritates you?
The one thing that irritates me the most is having people lie to me.  They act like I am too stupid to know that they are lying.  I know it is because they don’t trust me but it still hurts.  It’s like knowing someone in the class is having a party and then they look at me and say, “Oh, Daniela, I wanted to invite you but my mom said I could only have one person spend the night.  Since I spent the night with Hailey last time my mom said I had to invite her.  I am so sorry.”  Then I hear she had ten kids there and they’ve all be sworn to silence.  I know why they do it.

Tell me about your family.
My family is only me and my dad.  My mom ran off with my older brother when he was sixteen.  He refuses to tell me why.  I miss both of them.  I was only thirteen at the time.  I knew my brother wasn’t happy.  We didn’t have much money.  Sometimes I heard him arguing with my dad and my mom would take up for him.  I guess that one day they got tired of the arguments and just left.  If they had stayed around for just a few more months they would have seen that my dad got a better job and we moved into a nicer house.  I just hope they are happy wherever they are.

What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror?
I think I’m pretty.  Besides that I think that I am a person who knows where she is going.  I think that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  I will get what I want in life no matter what.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me was the first time a boy kissed me, my dad caught us.  We were at a party.  The reason this is so embarrassing is because the boy who kissed me got so scared that he ended up puking all over me.  He was that scared of my dad.  My dad had come around the corner with a group of his friends and they all laughed at me.

Do you have a crush on anyone?
I have a big time crush on Tobias Kellerman.  We have been dating for about six months.  He is the first boy I’ve met who is not afraid of my dad.  I really like that.

What do you really, REALLY want more than anything else in the world?
What I really want more than anything in the world is for people to trust me.  I want them to see that just because my father is a Stasi agent doesn’t mean they can’t be my friend.  It doesn’t mean that I will spy on them.

Is there anything you would die for?
I would probably died for my friends if I had any true friends.  If my mom and brother were here I’d definitely die for them.  My dad and I have been having some problems.  Since I’m mad at him right now I don’t know I would put my life out there for him.  I know he wouldn’t do it for me.

Is there anything you area really good at?
I am a very giving person.  I try to volunteer a lot.  But besides being very friendly I don’t think I’m  very good at anything.

This was a very interesting conversation.  I learned a lot more about my character than I first thought I knew.  It created some questions that will definitely change the course of my plot.  Daniela seems on the outside like a very confident person.  On the inside she is hurt because she has very few true friends.  The ones she has, she can't be sure why they are true to her.  A question that came up was why did her mother and brother leave and what happened to them.  Will Daniela ever find out?  Will Daniela every have any one's trust?  At what cost?  Is she really not very good at anything, or will she find out that she has a gift?  If she has a gift how will she use it?

This is how I see Daniela.  
Have I represented her?
Do you have other questions about her?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Character Tobias

Tobias Kellerman
Basics:  Age 17,  Born April 23, 1968.  Lives in Berlin, Germany
Brown  hair, blue gray  eyes.

What is your happiest memory?
My happiest memory was when we moved to Friedrichshain.  My dad got a promotion and we had to move.  That is when I met Ivonne.  We grew up together and we have really been best friends.   

What don’t you want anyone to find out about you?
I would do just about anything to get Daniela to be my girlfriend.  We've been dating but I want a more committed relationship with her.  That is kind of scary since her father is head of the local Stasi.

What is the best part of your personality?
I look like I'm am serious most of the time.  Inside I am usually cutting up or cracking jokes.  I love to make people laugh.  There is so much in the world not to laugh about.  I just try to do my part.

How would your best friend describe how you look?
My best friend would say that I am the best looking person they have ever met.  Actually that's what I would say.  They would say I am the life of the party.  They would also tell you that I would give you the shirt off of my back to help you.

What irritates you?
What irritates me are people who say one thing and then you find out they believe something totally different.  They compromise their beliefs.  I don't understand that.  I think you need to stand up for 
whatever it is you want in life.

Tell me about your family.
My parents were really great.  My dad worked in a government office and my mom worked in a factory.  Right now they are in prison.  They were arrested along with Ivonne's parents.  They were accused of being rebels and talking about leaving the DDR.  My parents would not leave the DDR.  My parents love living in the East.  Someone has lied and I know they will get it sorted out soon.

What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror?
When I look in the mirror I see someone who can overcome any obstacle.  I will go after whatever I want and I will get it.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me was when I arm wrestled Ivonne and she broke my arm.  I was teased for weeks by my friends.  They called me weakling and a few other names that were not very flattering.

Do you have a crush on anyone?
I don't have a crush on anyone.  I am head over heals in love with Daniela Hoffmeyer.

What do you really, REALLY want more than anything else in the world?
The one thing I want more than anything else in the world is for Daniela to be my wife one day and have my parents out of prison to see us married.

Is there anything you would die for?
I would die for my friends and family, and my beliefs. 

Is there anything you area really good at?
I'm really good at fixing things.  I love doing anything that allows me to create or fix things with my hands.  I hope that my skills will take me far.

Here is how I see Tobias.  What do you think?  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Character - Ivonne


Ivonne Becker

Basics:  Age 17,  Born October 20, 1968.  Lives in Berlin, Germany
Blond hair, blue eyes.

What is your happiest memory?
My happiest memory was when my parents to me to Der M√§rchenbrunnen.  This is a beautiful park  There are fountains and lots of statues of the Grimm brother’s fairy tale characters.  It is wonderful to take a picnic lunch and just sit and watch people and watch the calming water. 

What don’t you want anyone to find out about you?
I have to be careful when I tell you this.  I don’t want anyone to know how much I’d like to live in the West.  If anyone heard me telling you this I could get in a lot of trouble. 

What is the best part of your personality?
I would have to say the best part of my personality is  how helpful I am to everyone.  It doesn’t matter if I know you or not.  If  you need help I’m there.

How would your best friend describe how you look?
My best friend would say that I have blond hair and blue eyes.  My eyes have this really dark ring around the iris that kind of makes them stand out.  I am athletically built.  I like to stay fit.  My hair comes just below my shoulders.  I dress as fashionable as possible here.

What irritates you?
Having people watch my every move.  I know I’m not paranoid.  There is no such thing as trust here.  When I enter my house I can count on my neighbors watching me.  They do the same thing if I’m outside talking to someone or when I leave my house.

Tell me about your family.
My parents are really awesome.  My mom did work in a factory.  My dad was a mechanic.  Last week I came home from school and Heir Hoffmeyer was there to meet me.  He wanted me to know that my parents had been arrested.  He took me in and questioned me for three hours.  I know they are watching me.  They let me stay in the house because I’m 17, and it is the easiest way to make sure they keep an eye on me.

What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror?
When I look in the mirror I see someone who looks scared.  But I know that I have a lot of strength in me.  I have a determined look about me.  I am determined to do whatever I must to survive.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me was when Tobias was at my house.  He likes to tease me.  He always thinks he’s better than me because I’m a girl.  He wanted to arm wrestle.  I told him I didn’t want to hurt him and he laughed at me.  I accidently broke his arm.

Do you have a crush on anyone?
I don’t have a crush on anyone.  I’m looking for someone who secretly wants to live on the other side of the wall as much as I do.  I want someone who wants a better life.  I don’t think I will ever find them.

What do you really, REALLY want more than anything else in the world?
The one thing I want more than anything else in the world is freedom.  I want to be free to do and think what I want.  I don’t want the government tell me how to live mylife.

Is there anything you would die for?
I would die for my friends and family.  I would die trying to secure my freedom.

Is there anything you area really good at?
Nothing really stands out.  Of course I don’t really have a lot of freedom to be expressive.  I am really good at working with glass and recycling it to make interesting pieces of art.  I have to be real careful.  If I create something that someone finds offensive I could be thrown in prison like my parents.


This is what I see when I think of Ivonne.  What do you think?  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting to Know your Characters

I've been working on the characters for one of my WIPs, "Walls" (working title).  Today I sat down to interview my main character in hopes of getting to know her much better.  At the bottom of this lengthy post will be a list of sources I used to get my questions for interviewing my character.  I did this with my first book about halfway through the writing process because I was teaching a writing class after school.  It took my book down a path I'd not thought of because I got to know one of my characters better.  I always have in mind the place my characters live, age and birthdate before I get started.  I also search out pictures for my characters to keep in front of me.  If you look at my book Steps to Courage you will see photos used in my book trailer of my three main characters, on the front cover..  Once I started describing them I had to find just the "right" picture to represent them.  You will know it once you see it.  The exercise I am doing today is just the very basics on getting to know my characters.  The first three links I've given you at the bottom of this post is where I got my interview questions.  To take it further I would recommend Writing the Breakout Novel and its companion workbook by Donald Maass.

Today I am interviewing my main character  Hannah.  Let me set up the problem for my book for you.
Hannah has been transported back to 1985 E. Berlin.  She must escape to the west side.

Basics:  Hannah Meyer  age 17, Born August 1, 1995.  Lives in Bradenton, Florida
Blond hair, blue eyes.

This first set of questions is taking from a book written by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. I purchase 10 - 20 each year and give them to students who show a desire to write.  The book is called Spilling Ink.  Section 4  in this book, invites you to grab a cookie, and glass of milk, and sit on the edge of you bed and casually interview your character. I have used questions from the book page 27, here for this interview.    

What is your happiest memory?  My happiest memory was when I finally got to meet my mom's
parents.  They lived on the east side of Berlin and did something that got them put in prison for a while.
I'm not sure what they did because my mom won't talk about it.

What don't you want anyone to find out about you?  I am afraid to let my guard down.  What I mean is,  I've seen so many of my friends get hurt in relationships or by their parents breaking up.  I hear my parents fighting a lot and so I'm afraid to show any TRUE emotions or to trust people.  You just never know when they are going to dump you or hurt you.  It sometimes paralyzes me to the point that I sit back and watch things happen and do nothing.  I'm scared that if my life really depended on it or if my family or friends lives depended on me me doing something or risk getting hurt, I would do nothing.  It is safer to build walls around my feelings so that I don't get hurt.

What is the best part of your personality?  I can be very fun to be around.  I am very creative.  Whenever we have any projects to do my friends all want me in their group because they say I'll come up with a "fun" idea, and I usually do.  I can be the life of the party if I let my wall down.

How would your best friend describe how you look?  My best friend would say I have honey colored hair.  I have really weird eyes.  They are blue.  The thing is she says she can tell what kind of mood I'm in when she looks at me.  When I am happy and everything is going well she says my eyes are the color of a crystal clear blue lake in winter time.  When I am in a bad mood they go to a blue gray color. She must like lakes because she said is it like looking at a lake under a cloudy sky.  You can see the blue but it is severely gray.  I  am 5'8 and have a medium build.  My best friend says she wishes she had some meat on her bones so she didn't look anorexic all the time.  I think is is her way of saying I'm not too thin or too fat.  She likes to borrow clothes from me because I have a bohemian style of dressing.  That doesn't mean I can't get dressed up if I need to.

What irritates you?  I can't stand someone who just keeps running their mouth.  You know the kind that has to tell you every single fact and detail about everything that is in their head.  I want to slam them in the face.

Tell me about your family.  What's to tell?  My mom's name is Ivonne and my dad's name is Stefan.  They both grew up in East Berlin.   After they moved to West Berlin they got married and then a few years later moved to the United States.  That is all I know about their life there.  Here in Bradenton my mom has an art gallery.  She works with glass and pottery.  She has always loved this.  My dad works in construction.  He started his own design firm but then decided he had to build his designs as well.  He builds custom treehouses, playhouses, and things like that.  He says he feels the most freedom when he is creating with his own hands.

What do you think of yourself when you look in the mirror?  I think that I need to take more chances and live.  I see someone who always has a frown or pout on her face.  I see someone who feels sad and scared more than she feels happy.  I see someone who feels trapped behind a wall of her own creating, yet feels there is another wall, that if she could just break through it would hold the answers to tearing down her own walls.  I hope that makes sense to you.

What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?  My mom sold this really beautiful glass lamp to a lady.  The lady asked me to carry it to the car for her.  I didn't really want to because I'm always afraid I will break something my mom has made.  My mom insisted I carry it for her.  I went to open the door for the lady at the same time she reached for it.  She bumped into me, sending me and the lamp into the door breaking it.    I immediately burst into tears.  The lady kept telling me she was sure my mom could fix it and that it was her fault for running into me.  I was so embarrassed.  My mom let her pick a different lamp, one that was more expensive at no extra cost.  I refused to go to my moms gallery after that.

Do you have a crush on anyone?  I have a crush on one of the soccer players at school.  I would never let him know this because you know how it goes, he might reject me, or we might get together and then break up.  I'm not ready for that yet.

What do you really, REALLY want more than anything else in the world?  I want to go to Germany and find out what it is my parents don't want me to know about their past.  I think it would help all of us so much.  They won't talk about any of it.  I have read about East Berlin and East Germany and the Wall, but I only have one side of the story.  Sometimes I think that is what they are fighting about.

Is there anything you would die for?  I would die for my family, friends and my freedom.  I think if it came right down to it, at least I hope, my fears would not get in my way.

Is there anything you are really good at?  Besides reading?  Yeah, I guess I kind of got some of my parents crafting or artistic genes.  I like to create things from fabric.  For example, one day I was at the park with a basket of fabric scraps.  I just felt like sitting under a tree and creating for a while.    A little girl came up and asked me what I was doing.  I told her I was going to make something.  She asked if I could make her a little doll because she lost hers.  I told her mom to come back in an hour and I'd have a small doll for her daughter.  It was just a simple  rag doll, but the look on that little girls face made me feel so good about that doll.


After completing this exercise I always see my character differently.  It also brings up questions, or other conflicts that I jot down.  Sometimes it helps me understand why something I originally had in my head won't work.  When I first started working on this book in an online class a couple of years back, the story line and setting were somewhat different.  I had to make a family tree and realized that my time frame had to change.  Originally I had Hannah going back in time and meeting her grandmother, then realized this would not work out.  Why?  Ah, it all had to do with the motivation for this book.  I encountered a section of the Berlin Wall outside of the Intrepid museum.  This is the catalyst for my time travel.  Upon researching that piece of the wall I learned that the west side of the wall had no painting on it until the 1980's and that particular piece was painted in 1985.  I've been working on this book for two years, most of it in the area of research.  I cannot rush this book.  I must make sure that it is as historically accurate as possible.  Details are important to me when it comes to things like this.

Please leave a comment and let me know the following:
Was this exercise helpful to you?
Did it give you an idea of what my character Hannah was like?

My plan is to post my interviews with my other characters this week. Tuesday look for my interview with Ivonne, Wednesday is set aside for Tobias, Thursday is for Daniela and Friday is for Stefan.  These are my main characters.  I have other bit characters that have walk on parts and I am the type of person who fleshes them out when I come to them.

Want to know what picture I have for Hannah?  Is this what you envisioned when I describe her?









Resources:
Spilling Ink
The Book Buddy
CBI Character Workshop
Writing the Breakout Novel
Writing the Breakout Novel workbook

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I Have Nothing To Write


During state testing week, I had only one day where I saw all of my students. I had my students write a story and several of them said they didn’t know what to write.  This student found a solution to her problem.  I keep telling students if they can't think of anything then they just need to write whatever pops into their heads  The following is printed with Chey’s permission.  She did write a proper story after this.

            I can’t find anything to write sitting in my mom’s car, where my bag was.  I’m trying to figure out something to write and maybe after my little sister and older sister are done fighting, we can leave for school.  But, I also have nothing to write.  Wait, do you hear that?  Yea, that nothing?  They’ve stopped fighting.  Awesome!  I wonder if we could leave?  I’m ready, Chantel’s ready, Kai’s ready.  Is Manny ready?  Wow, I should scratch out that baby talk but I have nothing to write about, and I need at least 650 words.  But, I have nothing to write about. 

            Oh, there goes my aunt and my cousins. “Bye.”  I’ll be back I have to fix something.  I’m back baby.  Wow sitting here with paper in my hand just sitting in a car trying to find something to write, and now I just wrote allover my arm.  Oops!

            Wow my sisters are going to be late.  It’s not my fault.  I’m ready.  I’m already in the car so now what?   I have nothing to write and my hair is messy and we’re going to be late.  Cool!  Oh crasp!  We have to do that FCAT thing and I forgot all about that, Oh and we’re getting report cards.  Oh my gooooodness.  I’m going to die.  Oh no, I hear someone coming. Oh no!  Never mind.  Ewww, I hate you people.  The people that live next to us.  I mean in front.  They are leaving.  Gone.  Now I can do something.  I realize when I wrote that I thought I would have to go.  Oh well.  Everyone is in the car now, screaming, yelling, so blah.  I live with screaming and yelling all the time.  Help me!

Driving to my older sister’s  bus stop in peace.  Finally.  Wait, never mind.  Well she’s gone.  I live with so many people it’s crazy.  I live with seven girls and they have big mouths.  It is really getting old.  But, enough about that.  I still have nothing to write about.  000-000-0000.  Mommy’s on the phone with Gammies, my granda.  She lives  far, far away.  I miss you.  Bye, love ya.

Fire station 4 has just been passed by a white van. I mean an ugly white van.I’m sorry for this dumb story.  I’ve just gotta get this finished.  Plus, I’ve got nothing to write about.
Hah! Now mom is trying to give us the “respect” talk.  Booo.  Help me again.
“Chey, daddy says he loves you”, said Kai.
“I love you too daddy. I said”
I said that by Wakeland where my sister goes to school. 

“Go mom”.  The light turns green and she finally goes.  We pulled in to my sister’s school.. Wow I see my old school, weird.  I see these little kids with their backpacks so big and them so small.  Ha, ha.  Well bye old school.  Coming to the light here and we have to turn right, go straight, curvy, school limit 20.  My mom slows down.  The lady waves and mom waves back, then turns into the school.
I’ll be back.  I’m back.  I’m in the gym listening to music so bored here.

I’ve read this all.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Sorry, I’ve wasted your time teacher but,  I have nothing to write about

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lessons Learned

This week we had state tests at school. One of my former student's asked how my new book was coming along. I replied that I'd done little writing this year because of all of the effort I had put in on lesson plans, etc. My principal was standing there and assured her I would get back into it. This kind of lit a fire under me.

Today I opened the book Hooked by Les Edgerton
I mention this because as a new writer I need to constantly work at learning more. I have never taken any college courses to teach me how to write a book. I decided one day I had to ignore what others told me and just do it. I am proud of my first book, "Steps to Courage". However, I am constantly reading things and seeing how I did things wrong. I have always felt the beginning of my book just wasn't right. By the time I published it I felt it was as good as "I" could make it. It has been through HONEST critiques and reviews of my book that I have slowly begun the process of learning to improve my writing. Several people have told me that I did more telling than showing. I also know I have a problem with being a passive writer. I keep trying to write like I was taught in school, and like I've been trained to teach kids to write. I want to change this. I must begin by reading and analyzing books like Hooked. I began by looking at a copy of my book and marking it up. My hope is that as I deconstruct my first book I will be able to avoid those mistakes in the future.

I would love to be able to give someone my book and say, "Mark it up. Be brutally honest and tell me what is wrong so I can fix it and not make the same mistakes in the future". 

There are two main reasons I need to do this. If I ever decide to traditionally publish, it must be good enough to get the attention of a publisher and editor. 
The second reason is if I decide to self-publish again, I need to make sure it is better than my first book.

I will say this much though, it sure has felt good to be back doing what I really enjoy, writing. Yes, the writing process includes reading and learning about writing and practicing what you have learned. 

So what are you waiting for?
 
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