Sunday, October 30, 2011

Links Finale and Thank Yous

A final link for the month: Write at Your Own Risk. It's a blog written by members of the faculty in my program at VCFA. Last week, Laura Kvasnosky talked about her writing roots. She discussed the first teacher that really inspired her. Mary Quattlebaum continued the theme by thanking some of her teachers, as well as some of her favorite authors. Really anybody that has inspired her to write.

In that vein, I'd like to thank some teachers and authors for inspiring me.

Matt Christopher. Thank you for pumping out a gazillion books about sports. I enjoyed them all.

Ms. O'Donnell - 7th grade social studies. Thank you for recognizing a bored student and challenging me.

Mrs. Hogan - 8th grade English. Thank you for making me feel that what I had to say mattered, and thank you for introducing me to Earthsea.

Lois Lowry. Thank you for writing books that the 12 year-old me wasn't supposed to like, but did.

Mr. Jeff Connor - too many positions to list. Thank you for sharing your passion for storytelling.

Mr. Larue Renfrew - Youth hockey coach. Thank you for showing me that hard work pays off.

Mr. Kirk Koenigsbauer - 9th grade history. Thank you for teaching with the real world in mind, rather than just the textbook.

Mr. Rodney Mclain - 10th and 12th grade history. Thank you for making learning fun.

J.R.R. Tolkien. Thank you for letting me get lost in your stories.

Dr. Scott Fields - college English and writing. Thank you for helping me understand that all words are powerful.

Neil Gaiman and M.T. Anderson. Thank you for continuing to force my mind to try and keep up.

To my VCFA classmates. Thank you for sharing in this experience and for all of your collective energy.

To my family, both sides. Thank you for understanding my passions, and thank you for supporting me, no matter what.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I'm at least neck deep in my next packet for school. Maybe chin or nose deep. Due date is November 1st. Yay! School is fun! Right?

I wanted to share a couple of interesting links:

Great article by VCFA alum, Lauren Myracle, about being un-nominated for the National Book Award. If you don't know the story, this is a must read. It's mind-boggling and heartbreaking.

I was having a discussion with a student in the library the other day about typos in books. Here's a post from Rick Riordan's blog talking about that very phenomenon.

Just Finished: Tilt by Alan Cumyn (And I would like to say that this is one of the most amazing books I have ever read)
Reading: Trapped by Marc Aronson
Up Next: Now is the Time for Running by Michael Williams

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This month, it's all about the simple pleasures in life.

It may not be the most manly thing for me to admit, but I really don't care. I love stickers!

I think it all started with Pizza Hut's Book-It program that I participated in when I was in elementary school. It was pretty simple. They fed you pizza for reading books. If I read a book and presented a small book report to my class, I got a star-sticker for my special Book-It button. Five books equals five star-stickers equals a free personal pan pizza. The nine year-old me was sold. Instantly. I was flying through books, earning stickers, and stuffing my face with pizza.

Hockey stickers came next. I loved fun stickers found in vending machines or packs of hockey cards, not to mention decal stickers for helmets and other gear. I would always take the extra decal stickers, so that I could decorate my room and possessions with them. My number of choice as a kid was 19 for Steve Yzerman, my hockey idol. Needless to say, I think I'm still finding things with 19 stickers on them every time I go through old boxes of junk, ah stuff.

Now that I'm working in a library and trying to write my own books, stickers and talk of stickers are everywhere. I couldn't get away from them if I tried. It's always, 'look at how many stickers are on that book,' or, 'I don't think that book deserved three stickers.' They're in my face all day. When we get shipments from the Junior Library Guild, they send us gold stickers to put on their Premier Selections. My coworkers have caught on to my passion for stickers, so they save that part for me. It's so fun putting them on the books. It makes my day. A couple of weeks ago, I even got to put stickers on two VCFA faculty books: Bronxwood by Coe Booth and Tilt by Alan Cumyn. That was sweet.

If a book I wrote ever got a sticker, I may spontaneously combust. Maybe I should actually get a book published first. Maybe I should get back to work...

Friday, October 14, 2011


I love to carve pumpkins. Here's some that my friends and family and I did last year at our Harvest Party:


Monday, October 10, 2011

Back at it...

It's nice to be back. I didn't plan on being away as long as I was but, you know, life happens sometimes.

The flood situation forced all kinds of changes on us that we hadn't planned. It has been a very stressful time. Many days, unfortunately, my writing and my school work have been forced to play second, third, or eighty-seventh fiddle to the myriad of other things that I've been forced to deal with. Life has started to take a normal shape again and, after we move into our new place next weekend, I'm looking forward to settling into a routine.

I'm not gonna lie. It's been challenging. There have been a lot of late, sleepless nights spent working or, more times than not, trying to work without being able to focus. My mind has felt like it's been pulling a sled across Alaska or something. A few times, I've even thought about packing it in, giving up, taking a semester off. Thankfully, I'm past that point. I know I can make it. I turned in a packet of assignments at the end of last week, and I think I was able to produce some quality work. Phew!

Moving forward in my studies, I'm focusing on more micro-level writing techniques. I'm searching for sentence and paragraph level hotspots --things that work for me, things that don't, and why. I'm looking at inference and foreshadowing. I'm trying to learn how to subtly show my reader something big about a character, rather than coming right out and describing it in detail to them.

I think I'm making strides. They might be little, tiny centipede strides, but I still think I'm making them.

Just finished: The house in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, pictures by Beth Krommes
Currently reading: Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Up next: How I live Now by Meg Rosoff