Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Day in the Life: Jessica Love

Jessica Love's name is real. Which sucks for the rest of us since we can't steal it as a pen name.

Represented by Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency, Jessica shares A Day in the Life of a high school teacher in Orange County, CA.  Be warned - it's nonstop!

5:15 - Alarm goes off. Snooze.

6:00 - Finally get up from bed. Snuggle with the dog for a few seconds before going through my whirlwind morning getting ready process. I've been doing this no-heat curls thing that I sleep in so my hair is wavy in the morning without me having to do a thing to it. I slap on some makeup, snarf down some food, and rush out the door.
go to sleep like this...
unwrap, shake out like this!
6:35 - Stop by the 7-11 down the street for my coffee. I'm obsessed with my 7-11. The coffee is way better than Starbucks drip coffee, and it's only $0.50 for a refill of my travel mug. I'm here literally every day. There's a new guy working in the mornings now, and he doesn't know me. I miss Ravi. I haven't seen him in awhile.

6:40 - Drive to work. Blast Cold War Kids, sip coffee, mentally review the plans for the day.

7:00 - Pull into work parking lot. Linger in the car for a few minutes to avoid walking in to school with the teacher who creeps everyone out.

7:05 - Settle into classroom. Review plans for the day with my student teacher, who is basically doing all of my work while I continue to get paid for it, read work email, make copies for the day, talk with Brennan and Kyla, two of my favorite former students who often pop in my room to say hi before class starts.

7:30 - Zero period starts - honors 10th grade English. Student teacher is handling this class, so I make myself invisible in my chair while she runs the show. I fill out some of her observation paperwork, answer some personal email, grade a few things, and do some of the admin stuff required to keep a classroom running. I also take advantage of the fact that there is another adult in the room and run to the bathroom. Opportunities to go to the bathroom are few and far between for teachers.

8:30 - First period starts - honors 10th grade again, but a full block period, so it's a little different than what we just did in zero. We're starting off with book clubs...YAY! Even though student teacher is running the show, I still walk around to the student groups to talk to them about what their book clubs are reading. Lots of groups reading 13 Reasons Why this round. It's been a few years since I read that, so I should probably give it a re-read so I can better discuss it with them.

I let student teacher handle the middle stuff, but we are introducing a research project today, so I'm going to do that. It's great having a student teacher, but I really do miss the kids in this class, so I waste a little more time than I wanted to on chit-chatting with them and joking around. Oh well.

10:20 - Nutrition break. I head up to the front office to hang out with some of the other of the few times in my day I actually get contact with adults. There's a long line for the one bathroom and the copy machines, but I made my copies earlier, so I'm good there. I try to get a good seat at the table of fun people vs the table of negative Debbie Downer teachers who like to complain. I try to avoid them as much as possible.

10:45 - Third period starts - 9th grade English. I like to give the student teacher complete autonomy with this class, so I make myself scarce. I say hi to the kids, then pack up my stuff and sneak off to the teacher's lounge. I settle in on the couch, eat my Chobani, turn on my Spotify, pop in my earbuds, and get some quick writing done on my WIP. I pound out 1k words in about 30 minutes, since my school laptop won't connect to the wireless signal and I'm not distracted by anything.

With that taken care of, I pop into the yearbook classroom to see if they need my help. The yearbook advisor asks me to help track down some team photos, so I head to the computer in the copy room where I send out emails to all of the coaches.

12:20 - Lunch. Back in my classroom, my student teacher updates me on the issues she has been having with the freshmen. We brainstorm solutions and I give her suggestions on things that have worked for me. We review what we are going to do in class the next day, then she packs up and leaves. I gchat with my work bff and eat my lunch - an apple, a handful of carrots, and tuna on a piece of wheat bread. Students drop in with questions and former students pop in to say hi. When the bell rings I swear only ten minutes have gone by, but, nope, it's been half an hour. Damn.

12:50 - Fifth period starts - 10th grade honors again. This is the one and only class of mine that student teacher doesn't handle. I sit on my stool and make random conversation with the kids because I miss them, then we do book clubs. Some groups in this class reading Shine by Lauren Myracle. Awesome! We move on to vocabulary, then I introduce their research project. Lots of laughing with this class...the after lunch classes always have the most personality because they are finally awake and fed.

desk actually looks semi-clean today
2:35 - Bell rings. Kids run out the door. I collapse on my chair. Skim through email, organize grading and other paperwork, try to get desk organized, but who am I kidding, I am a total hoarder, and my desk area looks like, well, it looks exactly how my brain feels most of the day. I give up eventually, promising to clean it up tomorrow, and I head home.

3:30 - Drive home. Blast Cold War Kids some more. Call mom (using my hands-free headset, of course) and catch up with her.

3:50 - Best part of the day! I walk through the door and my little dog is SO HAPPY to see me. He jumps around and licks me and makes happy noises. I hug him and cuddle him and we get in the car and go to the dog park.

4:00 - Dog park. Gunner stands around and watches the other dogs play, and I sit around and watch him sitting around. Catch up on blog reading on my phone's Google Reader app. Read a few chapters of Small Town Sinners on my Kindle app.
little Gunner at the dog park
4:45 - Take the dog home, make turkey chili for dinner, plop on the couch and comment on blogs and what-not until the husband comes home.

5:30 - Husband comes home. Eat dinner.

6:30 - Husband drags me to the gym. Today is legs. I grumble about working out, but I do all of my exercises. I'm stoked because I can tell I'm getting stronger...I'm increasing the weight on almost everything. But then I get on the scale and realize I've actually gone up a pound since last week. I fight the urge to throw the scale through the window as the husband reminds me that I'm building muscle and blah blah blah. I tune him out because he loses weight by just considering it in passing, so his opinion doesn't really hold a lot of weight. Stupid men.

7:45 - Stop by Fresh & Easy to see if there is anything delicious in the bargain bin. There isn't...but we get a few other things we needed.

8:00 - Protein shake, shower, settle onto the couch with the computer on my lap for the rest of the night. Respond to blog comments, comment on friends' blogs, respond to email, check in with friends on twitter, blah blah blah. I also try to write a little more. I manage about 200 words, but I'm so tired from the dang gym that I can't manage much more than that.

11:00 - I manage to not pass out on the couch tonight. Hooray! I crawl into bed and pass out, spooning the dog.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just a Little Shoe Nap

What I'm listening to right now: James Morrison The Awakening

the shoe in the Cosmopolitan lobby in Vegas. 

It's been a life pile-up lately:

  • hosted a family guest for a sudden funeral
  • went down for the count with food poisoning last week
  • heading off to help plan my sister's wedding this week
In the meantime, I've got a high school teacher's Day in the Life coming up on Wednesday - stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Clay in the Life: Stephanie Lemieux

You've never seen A Day in the Life - in clay!

Clay Baboons is one of my FAVORITE blogs.  When this genius is finally discovered, I'm taking credit for saying "I told you so" first.  Please welcome Stephanie in Nova Scotia, Canada!
Thank you to the ever-gracious and brilliant Sophia for inviting me to share a day in my life with all of you!

My name is Stephanie and I'm trying to be a writer. I'm trying to be a lot of things, as a matter of fact, but writing is what I want to do most of all. I'd like to invite you to join me on a typical uneventful Wednesday in my life.

Wake-up time in our house depends on my husband's schedule. I only have to get up at 7:00, but sometimes JP has to be at work before 5:00 AM. JP does not like waking up in the morning.

I drag myself out of bed and eat breakfast in front of the computer. I almost invariably eat oatmeal with raisins and walnuts, although last month I made the mistake of buying steel-cut oatmeal. So healthy. So smug. Except that it took 30 minutes to cook, so I had to eat chocolate pudding while waiting.

Please note: I break one of Sophia's blogging rules by responding to comments on my own blog. I'm sorry Sophia. I hope that we can still be friends.

I take Chase the wonderdog for a walk around the neighbourhood - much easier now that the sun comes up earlier.

Sometimes Princess Chase needs to be coaxed out of bed with a cookie.

And then...

I'm a contract worker teaching two different classes, which means that I teach full days three times a week, and mornings only on the other two days. On my morning-only days, I sometimes meet a friend for lunch.
(Did you see how expertly I slipped that in? I have a friend. While this might not seem like a big deal to all of you, it took me a long time to settle in to this last move. My husband's in the air force, and we moved from a major city to a tiny little nothing village. I couldn't find work for the first six months. I was a bit lonely. And very, very lazy. But I'm on more of a schedule now that I'm working.)
If I don't meet my friend for lunch, then I go home and make something to eat. Usually eggs.

I tutor children in the afternoon when I'm not teaching, and I have an hour or so before my first student arrives. I use this time wisely, setting a timer and efficiently completing household tasks.

No, that's a lie. I'm not very good at housekeeping. I usually leave things until they turn into Really Big Jobs.

Instead, I sit in front of my computer for 45 minutes, with every intention of getting some work or some writing done.

I need to work on my time management skills.
I pull out my materials and get ready for my first student to ring the doorbell. I love tutoring; while I (sometimes) miss being in a public school classroom, I really enjoy being able to work one-on-one with a student, focusing my instruction to meet his needs.

Before each student leaves, he gives Chase a cookie. Chase loves the children. Or the cookies. I think they're actually one and the same in his doggie brain. After I've met with all of my students, I take some time to jot down some notes and plan for the next lesson. When I've finished planning my tutoring lessons, I do some paperwork, planning or marking for my language classes.
I take Chase the wonderdog for a long walk, letting him off-leash in the field up the street. He runs like a crazy thing. If JP is home, the three of us walk together, but his schedule is kind of unpredictable.
If JP is home, we cook and eat supper together. If he isn't, then I cook and eat alone.

After supper, I work out. Confession: I don't really like working out. But I do it anyway.

Evenings are for writing. I work on my novel, write a blog post or make something out of clay. I write. It's what I do.
At least three times a week, I have a disaster to fix at some point in the day: I spill something, or break something, or lose something. I like to think that that's part of my charm.

Depending on how late it is, we might watch a movie or play a game of Boggle. Before bed, I read. I am highly suspicious of people who call themselves writers but don't make time to read every day.
I'm usually in bed at 11:00. On a good night, I fall asleep quickly and I don't wake up again until morning.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Malinda Lo's ADAPTATION cover and Giveaway Winners

Malinda Lo's upcoming sci-fi thriller has a cover!

In other news...

Giveaway winners:

of SAVING FORT SMOKY - Theresa Milstein

of OPPRESSION - Evie Seo

And on Wed...
Stay tuned for a very special A Day in the clay!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Day in the Life: Juliana Brandt

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for OPPRESSION by Jessica Therrien!

Please welcome my CP, Juliana L. Brandt who shares her dogs and her day from Nashville, TN!  What is A Day in the Life?  CLICK HERE to be a part of it!

5:20 a.m.- First alarm

5:30- Second alarm

5:35- Third alarm

5:40- Finally, I push off the covers and force myself from the bed. I carrel both dogs into the bathroom with me, change, do my makeup and hair, and try to figure out if my contacts will cooperate for the whole day or if I should pack along glasses.

6:00- I take the dogs outside to potty. Yes, potty is their command word. At six in the morning, you can find me calling, “Go potty, Piggy. Go potty, Pre.”

6:25- Off I go to work! Thank heavens for coffee, audiobooks and music or I wouldn’t make it through the next hour without falling back asleep.

7:30- I am a Client Services Administrator, but let’s just call it what it is, I’m a secretary. The first half hour is spent making four pots of coffee and getting the building ready.

My purdy desk
8:00- My smiley, happy face gets stuck in place and the phone system turns on. A switchboard isn’t as hard to manage as one might expect and I spend the day repeating the phrase, “Good morning, how may I help you?” at least five hundred times.

1:00- The best part of my day is my lunch break when I take a 40 minute walk *happy sigh*

My view for the day
2:00- Back to the phones and sitting on my butt. I really can’t complain about my job. As long as I answer the phones and keep the clients happy, I have time to work on my writing. I am beyond thankful for that. Plus, everyone in my building is amazing.

5:00- Back in the car for the hour fifteen drive home.

6:15- Hooome! I walk in the door to two crazy dogs and my boyfriend. It usually takes about thirty seconds for me to realize that yes, I do still live in a beyond messy and disorganized house and that yes, I still really don’t want to clean. That’s what Saturdays are for, right??
My messy kitchen
7:00- I attempt to work out. Unfortunately, I do a better a better job thinking about working out than actually following through. It usually only happens three days during the week (including weekends) and normally can be attributed to Cale’s nagging. Huzzah for supportive boyfriends. The next couple hours are spent with my family, relaxing before bed.

9:30- Hopefully I'm ready for bed. Hopefully. I need my beauty sleep :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

OPPRESSION Publication Journey: Guest Post and GIVEAWAY

Welcome to this blog tour stop for Jessica Therrien's debut YA Oppression - with a giveaway!
Hello blogger friends! I’m Jessica Therrien, author of Oppression (Children of the Gods #1). Sophia was awesome enough to have me over for a guest post. Thanks Sophia!

I was asked to talk about my publication journey and how I managed to land a contract with ZOVA Books.

When I started writing Oppression, I wrote for fun. I needed to satisfy my YA book addiction and nothing was sucking me in like I wanted. So, I wrote what I knew would suck me in. I never really intended it to be published (…maybe I fantasized about it a little, okay, but I never thought it REALLY would be published).

After I finished, I decided why not at least try, right? I researched the perfect query, wrote up a synopsis, and sent the first 5 pages off to 10 agents. Then my mind did awful things. It imagined great responses. Of course agents would want the full manuscript. I had perfected it. I had worked so so so hard. How could they not?

Each rejection was crushing. I cried. A lot.

Then I got some advice from a friend of a friend who used to be in the publishing industry. I’ll never forget it. It changed my life.

“Go to a writers conference.”

I wrinkled my brow. “Sure,” I said, but I didn’t believe her.

I really don’t know how I convinced myself to go. I was raised to be frugal. I don’t spend money on just anything, but somehow I paid $400 to attend the Southern California Writers Conference. After clicking “submit payment” I seized up…Jessica, what did you just do? $400?!!

So I went. I’m not good at being social, but as it turns out, writers connect with other writers, and I ended up meeting some great friends (despite my sweaty palms). 

At these conferences writers are allowed to send in advanced submissions to agents, authors, publishers, etc. They read what you send and sit down with you for a quick 15 minutes to review/give feedback on your work. I chose to submit to two agents and one author.

The first agent hated me. I got the vibe. The second agent wasn’t interested in YA. Sigh. The author, Michele Scott, was very sweet and supportive. When I asked her why she thought I’d gotten 10 rejections in a row, she said, “I don’t know. You have a real talent for storytelling.”

It was great to hear, but I wasn’t sure how an author could help me get published. I went off to attend a seminar with little faith that anything would come from the conference. At least I was having fun.

Halfway through the seminar, someone interrupted the lecture.

“We’re looking for Jessica Therrien. Is she here? Publishers from ZOVA Books would like to speak with her.”

My brain: WHAAAAT?!   My mouth: “I’m Jessica.” Eyes wide, I followed the man to meet the people would soon become my dream team.

Turns out author Michele Scott had passed the word onto her publisher about my submission. Crazy, right? I’ll be ever grateful to you, Michele!

ZOVA requested my full manuscript after meeting with me. A few looooong weeks of waiting passed, and ZOVA proposed a contract.

I toiled over the fact that I didn’t have an agent for a while, but in the end I signed on my own, agentless. It was a risky call, but I’m glad it turned out the way it did. I’ve grown very close to the people at ZOVA and consider them good friends. They’ve worked very hard to make Oppression what it is, and I know they’re the best publisher for me.

Now that you know how the magic happened, I hope you all enjoy reading Oppression (Children of the Gods #1)!

Thanks for stopping by for the blog tour, and thanks again Sophia for having me on your blog.

Jessica's Bio:
I am a newly married and soon-to-be published 26-year-old. OPPRESSION, book one of my YA paranormal romance/adventure series, CHILDREN OF THE GODS, will be out February 28, 2012. I am a graduate of San Diego State University. I lived in Taiwan for a year where I learned Chinese, but I live in Chula Vista where everyone speaks Spanish instead. Although I spend most days in a cubicle at my day job, my alter ego is a writer, who loves the arts with a passion.


Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

To win a copy, fill out the Rafflecopter below:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Giveaway Links

Free-ness on the blogosphere this week:

1) $500 Amazon gift card.  Join the 8.5 million other people and Martians vying for this prize at Sparkling Reviews.

2) Full MS substantive edit with Deborah Halverson at Dear Editor for Revision Week.  I want this prize so bad I'm going to ask her if I can donate an organ for extra entries.  I'm literally salivating at this chance and guarding it like a pregnant canine.

3) Don't forget the giveaway on this blog for 15-year-old author Jenna Gustafson's MG book!  Ends tomorrow night!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Like a Nuprin: Road Trip Wednesday

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for 15-year-old Jenna Gustafson's MG book!

This Week's Road Trip Topic at YA Highway:
 NAME THIS LIFE: What would your memoir be called?

So not only have I already written a memoir, it's technically published.  (woo!)

Harvard publishes all honors theses that attain magna cum laude or higher and keeps a leather-bound copy in its famous massive library.  So if you visit Cambridge, MA, you can find it AND a videotape of the play I wrote, directed and starred in.  I advise you not to do this as I will be incredibly embarrassed.  The performance features drag queens, Miss Saigon parodies and objects not nameable on a YA blog.  

The name of my first memoir is:

The link will take you to the Google Books page, although the publish date is wrong (earlier than it actually came out).  Researching and writing the thesis took a year and a half and I got a grant to spend a summer in California, the shiny land of Asian-Americans, to interview performers.  That trip spurred me to follow my Hollywood dream after graduation.

college me hangs w/ Lauren Tom (Friends, Joy Luck Club) at a photo shoot
I wish I had even one picture of my motley cast, but I lost all my precious college photos in a laptop crash when I moved across country.  :'(

Since then, I've performed versions of this as stand-up acts, one-woman shows and play readings.  And yes, one day I'd love to bring it back.

*I coined the term "autobiofictional" for the thesis to underscore the complication and intersection of fiction and autobiography.  Harvard forces critical theory on you, what can I say.


While I'm on the topic of race, be sure to check out Ellen Oh's post: Why The Pretty White Girl YA Book Cover Trend Needs to End

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Day in the Life and GIVEAWAY: Jenna Gustafson

Our third Day in the Life profile will probably be our youngest ever - 15-year-old published MG author, Jenna Gustafson from Montana.  She's giving away a copy of her book, Saving Fort Smoky, which she started writing in 7th grade!

What is A Day in the Life?  CLICK to find out and be featured next!

Hi! I’m Jenna Gustafson. Let me give you a rundown of my Leap Day!

Generally, I get up at 6:15, but for whatever reason I never got up until 6:27 AM. With a groan, I rolled out of bet, showered, and rushed to get ready. After downing my breakfast and brushing my teeth in about ten minutes, my mom, brother (who is in seventh grade), and I rushed out the door into the frosty, crisp morning.

After dropping my brother off at the middle school, I walked through the red doors of Dawson County High school a few blocks away, ready to discover what was in store for the day. The halls were milling with the usual mix of kids. I gathered my books at my locker and headed upstairs to my first period class, Spanish, where I was unsocial and read quietly as usual.

 “Hola!” said our Spanish teach when he walked in and saw me sitting in my customary desk before class. Our teacher has brown hair that is usually slicked back into a pony tail. His eyebrows threaten to form a unibrow. In his pass time, our Spanish teacher enjoys making origami, puzzles, and word games. Though some see him as a little odd, he is amiable, clever, and witty, and teaches Spanish well despite having less experience than most teachers at our school. During class, all nine of us worked on our homework (Tarea de Clase) and racked our brains. Our classes always consist of a few jocks, book worms, health nuts, and junkies. In a school of 300 students, everyone is like a giant family and gets along for the most part.

After Spanish, one of my good friends and I walked to Biology together, where we took a ton of notes and were amused by our teacher’s white board sketch of short giraffes and tall giraffes used to illustrate directional selection. He even signed his name like a professional and offered to sell it for a starting bid of $5000! :) An energetic, goofy and balding forty-year- old, he likes fishing, playing pranks on my Geology teacher down the hall, wolf-whistling absurdly loud, and his unending supply of coffee.

Next, my friend and I walked to Health on the opposite end of the campus where we had a substitute with stylish attire and brown, fluffy hair with highlights. She lectured on the dangers of domestic violence perpetrators and signs of their actions. What a fun topic, huh?

When the bell rang, I was relieved to go to Geology. The twin teachers who teach our class keep plenty of earthy-smelling rocks and minerals in the shelves lining the large classroom, and never fail to joke with the seven of us in the class, which consists of good natured, curious, and mostly-outgoing farm kids who like being outside. That day we went out to Makoshika, very rugged local land that is a state park, under cold, grey skies in a white minivan, which is always an adventure. We collected a few samples of Canadian loess, clay, and loam from the river. Back at the school, I ate apples, two cheese sticks, and granola bars for lunch before testing our samples with water to see what they contained.

In math, my least favorite class, we had a quiz.

English was equally a drag, where our teacher with short, blonde hair and a particular love for Carmex droned on and on about the plots of the short stories we’ve been reading.

After school I dropped my backpack and coat off at the auditorium and stealthily raided the Speech and Drama closet on the second floor, which contains plenty of partially stale snacks. I took some Red Vines as always. Back in the auditorium, I read my book, The DaVinci Code before briefly talking with the director of our play, Around the World and Back: A Brief and Inaccurate History of Everything. At 4:00 pm, we began running through the scenes and called it quits at 6:00 pm.

Then I went home and ate a dinner of chicken, peas, and pineapple. After dinner I excitedly went downstairs and tried on running shoes for the next hour and a half. I ordered them because the Asics 2160’s that I had gotten for cross country had given me months of nickel sized blisters and bruised the majority of my toenails, and I didn’t want to relive that during track season as well. The Brooks Trance 11 felt much different, like spongy boards on my feet compared to the bright green Saucony Cortanas which still seem to have plenty of cushion and a more glove-like fit. I decided on the 8 in the Cortana’s, but still sent them back in exchange for a black and hot pink pair. I know I sound picky, but the right shoes make a world of difference when it comes to competitive running.

Content, I went to be at 9:00 pm dreaming of lightning fast shoes and getting back into season shape.

That is a typical day in the life of me. Thanks for having me!

Jenna Gustafson is a sophomore who lives happily in Montana with her parents and brother. Jenna loves to run, dance, write, draw, and read. While she has won local short story contests, Saving Fort Smoky is her first book which she published in 2010. She hopes to inspire other children to chase their dreams and understand that they are never too young to accomplish something.

Summary from Goodreads:

There's only one hope for Fort Smoky to survive. After a devastating fire ravages the homes of Fort Smoky, it's up to young Ben Clearwater and his sister and friends to help the residents and get to Fort Futureland to save the people before the harsh, cold winter sets in. To get there, they will have to trek through unknown mountains, relying on Running Wind's compass and Big Jim's maps of the land while struggling against the harsh forces of Mother Nature. Fort Futureland is a place of new and interesting contraptions, like cars and computers, the four children have never seen, and they are captivated. But the children soon uncover a sinister plot to destroy their beloved Fort Smoky. Will they be able to stop the evil leaders of Fort Futureland? Will they ever make it home?

Book's Website

To win a copy, fill out the Rafflecopter:


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