Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Battle is Over!

Ares god of pen snatching has been defeated! Before you call animal abuse, know one thing. Ares and I didn't have to brawl to the death. He simply found another hobby to intrude: my husband's boxing. I guess since he left me alone I win by default.

"As I look into the light, I decide to dominate my master's punching bag!"

  I can write in peace again! The end.

Querying: Rejection and Failure are Your Best Friends

"Show, don't tell."

"Patience is a virtue."

"Get rejected one, try again. Get rejected several times, revise and learn." 

If you are passionate about becoming anything in this world, a dancer...a singer...a  writer...a doctor...a dog, then know that anything is possible. If you can read this then you mostly likely won't become a dog, but nothing stops you from being anything else!

Ha! I love being silly, but it's time to discuss the one most important parts of  becoming a writer. Querying. Some of you probably groaned and grabbed your head with frustration. Maybe you puzzled. Well, querying is something every writer has to do (or should do) in order to stride towards publication. A query presents the heart of your work. It  has been reported by many writers to be the hardest part of publication.

What is your story about?! When you see a movie and later tell a friend about it, don't you tell the important parts? Don't you explain it with enthusiasm when it's a good movie. That's the simplistic way of describing it. What a query should do is briefly show the plot of your novel, your character's personality, and the theme. Also there should be your name, word count information, and the title of your book. When I say brief I mean it. Queries shouldn't be more than one page. Literary agents are busy just like you and me, so be respectful of this requirement.

 Notice the word show. What "show, don't tell" means is to color your query. Don't send in something that sounds like an essay for a physics class. Your query should be written in the same style as your book. If your book is funny, write a funny, upbeat query that does present everything I mentioned above.

"Patience is a virtue." We've all heard that saying too much, huh? It's overused, but it's one of the most important things to always remember. People who've queried before might say, "Oh, you gotta be patience because the agent has to send you their response within a few weeks." Yes, that's true. The agent has to read through hundreds of these to separate the garbage (I hate to say "garbage," but it's true) from the treasure. It takes time to look at all of those, and you have to be patient.

One day my story can live in other's homes.
 Look at querying my way. I queried last year when I was nineteen. I got rejected about thirty or thirty-five times, for a piece I thought was ready. Here's the catch. Sometimes we think our piece is ready, but it's not. After getting rejected several times, I decided to step back to take a hard, critical look at it. I noticed that it wasn't ready. My plot needed to be stronger, and more compelling for my audience because at the end of the day their opinion matters the most.
Rejection and Failure are your two best friends. That's weird to say, huh? Who likes to be rejected? Who likes falling on their face only to laughed at for trying? Nobody. Rejection and Failure are the good friends that you ignore the most. They are there to teach you, making you wiser, stronger, and more passionate. That's why I didn't quit, and I got the results I wanted. I might not be perfect. You and I may never write the perfect query, but we'll always know we tried our best to show the heart of our piece. With that dedication, we'll get recognized and grow from those who can teach us more--Rejection and Failure.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Usage of Technology in the Classroom (Google Drive)

I want to apologize about my prolonged break from uploading post. School is starting and I was scrabbling to get the fifth revision of my novel I want to publish finished before I'm loaded with school work. Also, starting school took a lot of my time as well, so I do apologize for making this my last priority. However, I managed to complete all of my revisions and started school smoothly. During that, I came up with great ideas for posting.

Today I wanted to briefly talk about technology in the classroom because it is a very serious, revolutionary epidemic spreading across the country. I live in Mobile County and we unfortunately don't have i pads/tablets in our classroom yet. It is soon to come, so I want to introduce a tool that most teachers in my hometown never used in a classroom before. This is also good for teachers who have tablets in their class, but have no idea how to incorporate them efficiently.

Here are common mistakes teachers can make when incorporating technology into classrooms.

This the homepage of Google Drive (Tablet app)
Instead of making technology be a learning outcome try to make communication, a 21st century skill, be part of the learning outcome. For instance, think of English. Some students immediately think of English as a class where you learn grammar and mechanics until your brain explodes. Some teachers don't explain that knowing grammar and mechanics and studying English is vital for communicating with others in a way that makes sense. Sure we can all know where a comma goes, but communicating is much more complex than knowing rules. A student has to be able to execute what they know or don't know in order to learn ways improve communicate with complex people. What is a better place other than a classroom--the glorious learning environment. Since classrooms adopt technology, teachers have to adopt them as well.
Google Drive
Today I'll introduce Google Drive. I'll try to talk about more apps as this blog and my learning continues.

Google Drive, when used efficiently, can be a great way to help students learn communication. You can create slideshows, documents, and spreadsheets BUT you can share them with others via internet. In my EDM310 course we used Google Drive for class discussions. My instructor used spreadsheets for us to keep track of our assignments. All you need is a Gmail address and there you go!

When creating a blank document you can access it with others via internet and edit the same document simultaneously. In my class, we used that feature to answer  questions my teacher posted for class discussions. As a teacher you can administer who assess and even check who participating since the Google Drive traces every activity.
You can create slide shows for class and allow other teachers or students to edit it in ways students can understand it better. Learn from the students to be a better teacher.
I've never taught a  classroom with Google Drive, but I do have ideas. If you're a teacher with in class Google Drive experience feel free to share your ideas with me!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Writing for My Readers

Forgetting about your readers' needs is one of the biggest mistakes a writer can make. Creative writers are supposed to create a compelling story and place that readers can immerse themselves in. If you are truly passionate about writing it will reflect through the plot and characters.
My husband and me
My loving husband is very critical and delicate with the material that I write.
passion. Your readers have to read your creation, so it's fair to do your best every time you write on a blank page. Don't make it tolerable, make it legendary!
  It's hard for me to describe why this is so important to me, but writing for your readers goes deeper than finding your target audience (gender/age). You have to feel everything you write. Become a part of the emotion. That is what the readers need.They need to see that you put yourself in their place.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What to Know Before Taking the ACT Writing Portion?

ACT bookletI hope to teach eleventh grade English/literature, so I know my students will be concerned about standardized testing for college. I took the writing portion a few years ago and I just wanted to refresh my memory of it.
The writing portion on the ACT is optional, but people recommend students to take it anyway in case they chose to go to a college that wants to see a writing score. The writing portion is timed, allowing only thirty minutes for students to answer a persuasive prompt . When testing is over the prompts are sent to the ACT grading center and are graded by a six-point rubric.
I know that if I took it a few years ago and had to refresh my memory, then high school teachers would probably have to do the same. I write this for the teachers because I know how it feels to be a student who stresses about the quality of their future.

With only thirty minutes to answer an unpredictable prompt, construct an idea, brainstorm, and compose, you start to wonder if it's possible to make a perfect score. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I wasn't exposed to a lot of persuasive writing when I took the writing portion, so I made an average score. Now that I'm much more educated in writing, I the know methods and skills I wish I had. Share this with your students.
  • Practice and accept that you can't predict your prompt.
It's easy to get overwhelmed with worrying to make a perfect score. It's possible to make a perfect score, but you can't predict your prompt. Tell your students to do is practice with sample prompts to become more comfortable with the demands of the writing portion especially if they are the type who needs a ample amount of brainstorming time.

  • Develop an outline to follow (use about five-ten minutes)
  • Develop a brief counter argument to be ethical and use rhetoric to diminish the counterargument.
College is an environment unlike high school. Most students are away from their parents now and they begin to develop their own uninfluenced opinion on controversial issues. In college, that is long as you can defend it. During the writing portion, be ethical to bring up the counter argument and don't hesitate to expose why the counter argument is wrong. That's the art of persuasive writing.
  • Signpost through topic sentences.
 Keep your reader focused with details that proved you have a well thought out paper. Always start each paragraph with topic changes that foreshadow (signpost) the idea for that paragraph.
  • Remember sentence fluency and paragraph unity.
Nothing is worse than reading jumbled thoughts that make no sense.
  • Make sure it's organized and developed. Correct any grammar, mechanics errors, and misspelling.
  • Voice    
Show yourself on that paper. Make it known that you stand for your argument and let it reflect on the paper!

If anybody knows any more tips please email me at and I'll make a new post highlighting them and giving credit to you. Thanks!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Journey from Storytelling to Being Published (Post One)

Storytelling Will Always Be Alive

Rae fails at getting a snack
A comic I drew of one my favorite characters in my novel. Summer 2012.
Before printed text existed people told stories verbally. People also drew pictures on stone to illustrate a thought, and everybody was satisfied with that. Some of us think since we have technology and media now we're separated from those primitive ways of telling a story, but we're not and we're satisfied with that.
Before tucking a child in what do we do? Tell a story. When we gossip or tell a humorous story to our family and friends, what are we doing? Children like to go outside to draw weird-shaped figures on the sidewalk with chalk and call them people. They give those shapes a personality, a name, and a story. We're never going to evolve from storytelling and illustration.

Prologue: How it all Started

When I was four I used to tell everybody stories about simplistic, childish things. I blabbed about my cat, kindergarten, and candy. I think some people I grew up around don't have a right ear anymore because I talked it off. My momma didn't have a car so we walked and rode the bus everywhere in Mobile. Inspiration for stories came from those countless bus ride adventures. When I turned eight and read a book that a child my age wrote. My whole perspective of story telling changed. It was like a revolution exploded in my head! "Anybody can be published," I thought. "Now I can be one of them!"

To be continued.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Teachers, You Actually Leave a Lasting Impression." (Post One)

I use this blog for networking and to present a professional image to literary agents. I also use this blog to use myself as an example to show teachers across the nation my appreciation for their work. However, I want to show teachers that they do "leave a lasting impression." Some are good, some are bad, some are things that come from my perspective of life, and some are inspiring. Today, I'll talk about something inspiring.

 I remember standing next to a piano with my mother ten years ago. She talked about being able to play it, and she convinced me to sign up for a piano class offered at my performing arts school. As a
a white rose on a piano.ten-year-old I thought I could sit down and automatically play. I had never been so wrong before. It was much harder than I expected. I didn't have the slightest concept on how complex piano playing really was.
 I cried because I was scared I couldn't do it. My piano teacher kept working with me, but she never gave me easier pieces to play. Well, actually I had to play the same pieces as everyone else in my class, but she expected me to practice to progress faster than them. Some of my classmates were second-year-students and they were still in the pink books (the first set), and after two quarters (one semester) I was in the purple books (the second set) before I knew it. I was always ready to play my assigned pieces and I succeeded every time. I had to work hard and prove to my mother that I can be like her and play too. When the annual piano recital came around during the spring she made me play the hardest piece. I cried again.

Gosh, now thinking about it, I cried over a lot of silly stuff in those days.

Once again, I thought I couldn't do it, but then I thought about something she always told me. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. I did what I was told to do to prove to myself that crying it pointless and it paid off. My first performance was a success, and it was because a teacher had confidence in my potential. Everybody needs a somebody to push them to their potential. When I'm a teacher I'll exercise my ability to give my students confidence. 

Impression: "You actually believed in me when I couldn't believe in myself."