Sunday, April 30, 2006


I am one of the few people I know who actually LOVES doing revisions on a manuscript. Strange, I know, but I can't help it. I know that it makes me crazy sometimes and I want to pull my hair out, and maybe my nails too, but I acknowledge here and now that I truly LIKE doing revisions. There's just something special about pulling all the pieces together to make one big happy story.

I think I've got another couple of weeks left of original manuscript writing on my current manuscript to do before I buckle down for stage one of my revision process. The wait will be excruciating and the aggravation once in revisionland will be coma-inducing at times, but for me, that's when the true magic begins.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Okay, Technically...'s about FORMER military & secret agents, but that's as close as I have here in the house! What would I do without my favorite author, Suz Brockmann?

How Can This Be?

Last week I was exhausted because I had a zillion things to do each night after work. No problem. I got done with the week and decided to relax over the weekend. Only, I thought I was getting sick and I thought I got poison ivy. I didn't know (I've never had it before!), but that's what everybody kept telling me. So, I treated the poison ivy (on my cheek, right under my eye) and slept a lot.

Monday came along and I was still exhausted, but my poison ivy looked to be almost gone. Only, my cheek looked a little puffy. Must've been because I hadn't caught up on my sleep. Or I was getting a sinus infection from blowing my nose since NOVEMBER.

Tuesday, the right side of my face started to swell. My kids were telling me it looked bad and one 6th grade girl asked, "Have you seen a doctor yet?) Tuesday night, it got worse. A LOT. By this point, I started thinking if it continued to get worse maybe I should go to the doctor. Wednesday morning, I looked like I'd been in a fight. I got to work for 7:15, told the boss I was going to the doctor's on my prep period & lunch and I told all my kids I was going to the doctors. By this time, I was getting a little freaked out because now my eyelid was swelling and it was harder to keep my eye open. I could see okay...when said eye was open.

So, I got to the doctor's and she walked into the room and what did she say first? Her eyes widened, she stopped short and said, " Whoa!" I can tell you this was NOT reassuring OR comforting. We spent a good bit of time running down my medical history and my last five days. Eventually she gave me a prescription, told me she doesn't know what to tell me ("Maybe a spider bite? I don't know.") and that if I don't see any improvement by tonight I MUST go back to the after-hours clinic.

As I drove away, my writer's mind comes up with this scenario: I go back because it keeps getting worse. The clinic calls for an ambulance to whisk me to the ICU. I'm kept in isolation because they can't figure out what flesh-eating thing is attacking me, I give a sweet, tearful goodbye to my own hero and then I die. Course, shortly after my death they figure out the cure.

I'm happy to report the drugs are working and my swollen face is starting to take on its orginal shape. Somewhat. I can see better and I can see a great improvement. And so I go on...

Yesterday my 100 words a day/ 100 days challenge with the Austin RWA group ended. I'm psyched with the story I have, but I'm SOOOOOOOO glad the challenge is over! I think we all are. It's a tall order to write like that, especially when you've never done that. I've always written only when the mood strikes. I came out of the challenge with close to 56,000 words.

22 days of school left. 3 field trips, a few guest speakers, a play, 2 graduations (K & 7th), and 3 more projects for each of my 3 classes. We'll be busy right up until the end.

Now that I'm taking a break from my Scottish contemporary (still not sure whether it's short, long or single title), I'm jotting down scenes on two stories. One, of course is emergng to be more important. It's the one I already have 100 pages on. And yet, the characters seem so different than when I first wrote them. Like they're more mature. (Kinda grew up while I was writing the first draft of my Scottish story, you know, like the babies grow up on soap operas!) I'm looking forward to exploring them again and in a lot more detail. But wait, could it be that I've grown up as a writer after my Scottish manuscript? Perhaps!

And last, I'm hooked on a TV show again. I vowed years ago when my last favorite show got cancelled that I would NEVER get that attached to fictional characters again. Sadly I see myself falling feet first with no ground in sight. The show, you wonder? The Unit. I've always loved TV shows about military men. Ultimate heroes, in my book. From The A-Team (Yes, The A-Team! It was about a military unit on the run from the government for a crime they didn't commit) to Tour Of Duty, to Over There. (I'm sure there are others, I just can't think of them.) I didn't allow myself to get too attached to Over There because I was afraid it would get cancelled. And sure enough, it did. I wasn't going to get attached to this show, The Unit, either, but it's happening. I can't stop it, can't control it. And I don't really know if I want to. I can tell you this, although I've barely started Susan Elizabeth Phillip's AIN'T SHE SWEET?, I won't be reading that until later. I've got to go hunt me down a book about some hot military men!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Good Morning!

There. That sounds happy, right? I'm cranky today with no real reason. I've got a lot of work to do and I don't want to do any of it. I'm feeling like crap and all I want to do is sleep. But, I must go on.

The writing challenge is on day 98. I haven't missed one. I won't miss one. I've slowed down quite a bit over the last couple of days, struggling to make just over 100 words when earlier in the week I had several days over 1000. But, I've still succeeded in the challenge and I love the story. Just wish I had lots of time to work on it. This week I should be able to work on it more. I only have my adult ESL class tomorrow night and then I have no other night commitments so I'll be able to play. Course, I do have a hefty amount of grading to do and progress reports to get out, but other than that I can concentrate on typing up the pages I've handwritten over the last week. THEN, I can work on rearranging and finishing up the 1st draft! Oh, and I still have those agent queries to send out. I know, I know, I promised to have them out by last Friday. As long as I have them out by my next Austin RWA meeting I'll be fine. (Sadly, sometimes the day job must come first!)

My CP, Jenna, is hard at work on her new manuscript and she's just so awesome. I can't believe the talent and she continues to blow me away with each page! She and I are both waiting to hear about the finalists for the Happily Ever After contest. We should know if we finaled by the end of next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Speaking of contests, I got my GH scores. I made the 2nd quarter and I'm pretty happy with my scores. A couple were low, but I got some good ones too. I realize how subjective this is, but my goal is to make the top quarter for the next GH contest.

Okay, I'm off to make another cup of tea and then get started on typing those pages I need to type. The grading can wait a little longer...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Yes, I'm Alive...

But barely! I'm exhausted. It's been a rough week outside the classroom. Haven't made it home before 9 once this week.

The good news? Tomorrow's Friday! AND only 5 more weeks of school. 5 more weeks until I can stay up late and sleep late every single day of the week.

I promise to come back tomorrow with lots more details. For now, I'm going to bed!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Still Working

Well, I didn't get my 3 queries for UCOD out this week. I just sent off 2. BUT, I plan to send another 4-6 by next Saturday. The best part? I like my query letter. I suppose that's a good thing. Before I know it I'll have my 12 queries, contests, etc. out and about. Then I need to pull a query letter together for Fractured Paradise. Course, it would help if I finished the first draft!

Only 30 more school days! And I heard that the place I plan to spend part of my summer now has Internet service! This will make my trip that much better! Maybe I'll stay an extra week or two.

Only 10 days left on my writing challenge, and I am soooooo ready for it to be over! Don't get me wrong. I've LOVED this experience, but it is so exhausting. Especially now that I've started a second manuscript, a suspense (you know, so I can get all those violent thoughts out on paper instead of bouncing around in my head!). As for the contemporary, I know I've got major revisions to do, but I'm running out of brand new scenes for it. Any writing I do now feeds off something that's already written. Hence the reason I had to start writing scenes for a new romantic suspense.

As for the working in a foreign country thing...I'm over it. I still would love the opportunity and I'll continue looking, but I'm not going to make myself crazy. I'm back to the idea that I'll have to start selling books (and continue teaching, of course!) so that I can spend my summers in my happy place and in other exotic locations.

Hope everyone has a Happy Easter weekend!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Really, Really

Can I just tell you how frustrated I am? I've been applying for ESL jobs overseas now for about 3 months, right? Well, I REALLY, REALLY want to work in the UK, but nobody will take me on without a work permit and I can't get a work permit without a job offer! Then, I check out the British Embassy website for some guidance and the information is even more confusing! Fifty zillion different types of permits and visas and a whole bunch of reasons to have a visa (none of which looks like my reason, mind you). Oh! And then there's the entry clearance forms and if you do any of this wrong they'll take your first-born as payment. Okay, maybe not. But man! What I want is simple. I want to do what I love in one of the countries that I love. Why does this have to be so hard???

On a happier note, I want to be Julie Kenner when I grow up! She spoke at my local RWA meeting tonight and it was awesome! She asked us ahead of time to e-mail any questions we had about the publishing industry and she'd answer them at the meeting. I leanred so much! She is just an amazing person and I REALLY, REALLY want to be her when I grow up!

Okay, I'm off to bed because I'm REALLY, REALLY tired after trying to decipher the visa/ permit/ clearance thing and then all the excitement of being inspired. But 100 words for the day.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Great Agent Hunt...Begins???

Yesterday I mentioned how I was going to start writing queries and sending them out on my romantic suspense story, Under Cover of Darkness. Today I actually logged onto RWA National and started cruising through the agent list. And then, of course, there is the non-RWA list out there somewhere. It's been about six years since I did this (you know, back when I had no idea what I was doing), but the agony came back quickly as I began to remember just how much of a process this is. I've been online for a while and yes I've written down several names, but the idea of actually tailoring letters, printing, sending them out and keeping track is just so overwhelming to me! But, I'm happy with my progress. I've got my notes. This week I pledge to send out 3. Maybe if I take baby steps it won't seem quite so stressful.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning!

First, I have to wish my nephew a HAPPY 15th BIRTHDAY! I wish I could be there to celebrate with him, but I'm stuck in TX. Plus, I don't think he'd really want his Auntie Chris hanging around.

The sun is shining, I'm done with Harry Potter and the project, I'm still in my PJs and I have nothing pressing to do! I'm reading Something Wicked by Evelyn Vaughn. I'm only on page 44, but I love it! She has such a wonderful knack for telling a story. It's like the heroine is my best friend.

I'm also going to work on my manuscript. I want to spend some quality time rearranging my little snippets of scenes. Remember, I'm a seat of the pants writer and so I have a whole bunch of scenes all written out of order but that will definitely be connecting. Also, I want to use the worksheets from Emily McKay and Robyn DeHart that help the author delve into the characters, discovering their GMC and backstory. I've done some work with the worksheets, but I want to actually sit down and write in my answers and get to know my characters even more.

Of course, I then have to write my 100 words for my ARWA challenge. We're on day 83. The end is in sight!

Oh, and I've decided to actually write some queries and start sending them out on UCOD.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Harry's Hiatus

Woohoo! I finished the book today and my book project is more than halfway done. All I have to say is I'm glad I'm out of school. I'm enjoying putting this project together, but I can't imagine doing this every other week on top of other papers, tests, and projects. Makes me appreciate being an adult who has finished college even more! So, after I finish the project tomorrow Harry Potter will be on hiatus. I've got Half-Blood Prince, but I'm going to wait until the summer (which is only 7 weeks and 2 days away, btw) so that I can take my time and really enjoy every aspect of the story.

Maybe now I can get back to work on my own book...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hurrying Harry Along

It's Tuesday night and I have less than 100 pages left on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix! Plus, I've got a bazillion ideas for my book project. One of the kids saw how stressed I was yesterday about finishing and he said, "We can postpone the project until Monday." I just gave him that teacher glare and explained, "No way! What kind of example would that be? I promised you guys that I'd do this project for Friday and I'm sticking to that even with all the other stuff going on in my life. I set my priorities to get my work done." I'm going to knock their socks off!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What Was I Thinking???

So each of my classes does a book project every 2 weeks. They have to pick a book, read it and do a project on it showing me that they actually know what the story is about. They made a kite one time, a gameboard, a cereal box, a scrapbook, you get the idea. It takes the place of handwritten or typed book reports but still uses the same information like setting, theme, conflicts, characters, etc.

About a week ago one of my 6th graders said, "Ms. Keach, how come you don't do the projects with us?" My reply? "I already finished 6th grade." But, I told him I would do this project with them. Several of the goof-offs sat up straight and paid attention at that point. So, I promised that I would read a book and do a project on it too and if I didn't finish, then they wouldn't have to do these projects for the rest of the year. I went on to explain that if I picked one of their books, I would finish it in a day, so brilliant person that I am, I promised that I would read Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. It's 870 pages!!!!!

So, now I have 5 days until this project is due and I stayed up last night until 2 a.m. reading. Yes, I'm enjoying the book, but I'm only on page 300! And yet I still have my ESL class to teach, my 100 words to write each day, and other miscellaneous stuff that we adults have to do.

Okay, enough whining. Must go read....