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My Second Blogversary

Two years ago, I started this blog with a draft of my first novel underway and a hope that it will someday be published. I wanted to get my name “out there” and wasn’t quite sure who would read this, but I started anyway.

Two years later, this space is still a work in progress, but I have figured out the types of posts I like to do and will continue to do those. For example, I made a commitment to read more novels by and about Latinos and spotlight those titles. Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the U.S., and I think it’s important to highlight work by Hispanics for readers of all backgrounds. I have also written about my students, who are reluctant readers, and the books they love. Everyone hears about award-winners, but I’ve discovered lots of other great books because my students said, “This was good.” And trust me, when a teen who never reads says that, I pay attention. I’m happy to highlight those books.

I write about what I do daily: read, write, and teach. Because teaching is my full-time paying gig, I haven’t kept a strict schedule with the blog. Some people religiously post on certain days. I admire that, but I’m not there yet. I want to be more consistent, but probably once a week is the best I can do given my schedule.

Other things that have happened since I started this blog:

I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a local critique group.

I attended the New York SCBWI conference and met lots of great people.

I revised my first novel and wrote a second one.

I wrote a guest post for Latina Book Club.

I was part of a blog tour for A THUNDEROUS WHISPER by Christina Diaz Gonzalez.

People in 40 countries have checked me out. A big wave to that person in Kenya, the reader in the Philippines, and those seven people in Armenia. How cool is that?

Two years later, my third novel is in the planning stage. I still have the hope that my first novel will be published, but I feel like I’m closer to that becoming a reality. I’ll be attending the New York SCBWI conference again, and this time, I will actually know people! I look forward to this year and will continue to do the things I love–read, write, and teach–and blog about them.

Critique Group Take 2

The first time I attended a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators critique group, I did a great impression of the Bid Red Chicken from Dora the Explorer. See this post for details. In short, I chickened out of reading from my work in progress, a young adult novel titled AESOP’S CURSE. The people sitting around the table were friendly and supportive, but it was my first group critique session ever. My nerves got the best of me, so I chose to listen and offer advice instead of put myself out there.

Well, I’m happy to report that I have shed my Big Red Chicken feathers. I recently attended a meeting of a new SCBWI writer’s group that meets closer to my home, and when it was my turn, I read the first five pages–Chapter 1–of AESOP’S CURSE.

Only a couple of people have read parts of it. My friend Matt read the first few chapters, and I had posted the first fives pages on the YALITCHAT website. I received lots of helpful feedback, which I used to nail down those crucial first chapters. My friend Stacy has read all of it so far. She’s been great, offering encouragement and letting me talk through certain scenes.

So, I have shared it with some people already. Having others read it and give me feedback doesn’t make me nervous. As a former journalist, the write-revise-edit cycle is ingrained in me. I want my novel to be in the best shape possible before I send it to my agent to read. The thing is, everyone who has read parts of it has read it on their own and then sent me comments via email. I’m used to this process.

Reading self-created work aloud in front of strangers is different and nerve-wracking. My sister, who is an artist, understands. As an undergraduate, she would reveal a piece to the class and then stand next to it in silence while everyone looked it over and prepared their comments. Awkward! But a necessary part of the creative process.

Plus, what’s the point in joining a writer’s critique group if I don’t participate fully, right?

When it was my turn to read, my voice was shaky at first. As I went on, though, I sounded less like a robot with the chills and more like my main character, Aaron. My reading fell into a rhythm, rising and falling where it needed to, emphasizing certain words as Aaron would.

When I was done, my critique group offered lots of positive feedback–Thanks!–and some suggestions. Overall, they liked it and wanted to read more. I’m excited to bring the next five pages to our May meeting and hear what the others have written!

HELLO AND WELCOME!

I decided to start this blog in anticipation of my YA novel RESURRECTING EMILY being sold to a publisher. It could happen tomorrow or months from now. Still, in visiting other author sites, both published and unpublished, the message was the same: it’s never too soon to start sharing your work with the world, hoping to build interest for the day when the manuscript has become a published novel.

So, here I am! I have started by completing the “About Me” section and outlining how I wrote my first novel in the “Resurrecting Emily” section. In future days, I will post the faux-book cover I created to stay inspired and other things related to the novel.

Since I am not a full-time blogger, I won’t be posting daily, but I will be posting at least once a week or when there is news. I will also be blogging about other things that interest me, including YA novels I am reading.

That’s all for now!

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