Monthly Archives: June 2012

Clean Space, Fresh Perspective

It’s been one full week since I last posted, and it turns out, this time away is incredibly helpful! For those of you just tuning in, I called a Blog Time-Out last Sunday. It’s not entirely a hiatus—me not talking is about as likely as pigs flying while it’s raining cats and dogs on a very cold day in hell—but it is a temporary blogging slow-down while I focus on finally turning Kyresa, my “work in progress,” into a “completed work” instead.

So far, so good! I managed to edit for over 30 hours this week, and I’ve virtually reached my next step: entering all 8,000,000* of my changes into the computer for a final reread. I’ve always been partial to editing on paper, both because staring at a computer screen gives me a headache, and because I prefer being as hands-on as literally possible, but I’ll admit it does tend to lengthen the process. Still, I am far closer to “completed” than before. Hurray!

Last night, when I set my binder beside the keyboard to start entering said 8,000,000* changes, I realized that my desk had gotten completely out of control. I’ve always been a pretty neat person, but after spending seven weeks in a cast a couple years ago, I learned to loosen the reins a bit. This was a wonderful thing to learn because (1) I generally find I need to relax far more than I allow myself to do, and (2) writing is just plain more important than the dishes. While I still clean pretty regularly, I’ve definitely fallen into an old habit: in any given room, and on my desk, there are various piles of things I need to reference. Though I know exactly what is in each pile, I have nowhere to put the items in these piles. I’m sure several of you have this little habit; short of causing a tripping hazard in the middle of the night, it doesn’t seem like such a bad one to have.

But add to this that Anna Meade over at Yearning for Wonderland has been showcasing various author and bloggers’ writing spaces, as well as the glass of wine that was in my hand, and I pretty much lost it over the state of my desk. It didn’t matter that the desk—actually table, there are no drawers on this sad piece of furniture—also served as bill station, supply house, project table, bookshelf, computer hub, and writing place anymore…it had to be cleaned!

So naturally I swooped all my paperwork to the floor (just like in the movies) and started reorganizing. I’m not finished yet, but already, seeing the surface of the table without all the clutter is making me feel better. It has also inspired me to continue into the next stage of Kyresa‘s  final edit! Clean space, fresh perspective, finished project, and very soon, a return to my more regular blog schedule.

In the meantime, I’m going to need to figure out what to do with all the papers I dramatically knocked to the floor. My cat—usually a cuddly sweetheart who thinks she’s a dog—made clear in her extraordinarily devilish look that she has her own plan for them:

Sienna the Troublemaker. Sure…she doesn’t have any plans to mess with this paper stack. At all.

Oh dear…

I’ll be back probably next weekend, folks. Thanks for your patience as I finish this edit, and for reading!

(*Special note: I like to exaggerate. Often with the number 8.)

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The Inevitable Blog Time-Out!

I woke up this weekend with a blaring realization: I’ve been sitting on the last 140 pages of my book’s final edit for about three weeks now.

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly purposely delaying. The last two weeks of the school year were more akin to a semi-truck smashing into my life than a gentle version of cruise control, and then of course last week I needed to take some “chill time” to transition into summer (see: The Readathon). Then came some serious errand and housecleaning time, and a quality weekend with my adorable niece (you may remember her as the Most Adorable Niecey On the Planet). All of this had to happen, but—yes, there’s a but—a little finger tapped me on the shoulder and drew me back to reality.

“Hey you,” I heard. “Remember me? Your book? The whole reason you started this blog in the first place?”

I tried to ignore it initially, but it just kept tapping—sweet little Kyresa, waiting impatiently for that one last edit to finally be done…

Which leads me directly to the inevitable blog time-out. For now I need to focus on this last edit of Kyresa. I’m simply too close to not put it at the top of the priority list. Don’t worry—my parents assure me I came out of the womb talking, and that I haven’t stopped ever since, so it would be impossible for me to cut out completely! I’ll probably just come a-knockin’ once a week instead of two or three times each week. I also don’t expect this will be for long—it’s only 140 more pages, after all!

In the meantime, my e-newsletter will be launching a little later in the month (after I finish editing); if you haven’t already signed up for it, now’s the time! The e-newsletter will contain updates on news, publications, and in time, appearances, and you will receive it no more than once a month.

To receive the e-newsletter, please send a blank email to: EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.comYou will receive a confirmation email with instructions shortly after. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don’t see it within a few hours.) If you have a Yahoo account, you can also go directly to the group to join on-site by clicking here. Please join! You can unsubscribe at any time.

All right folks, a giant thank you to all of you for reading and following along. Wish me luck on my final edit, and I’ll be back next week!

🙂


The Readathon

This morning I woke up, rolled out of bed, and finally realized I’m on summer vacation.

Really—it can take that long. And I will probably have this realization every week when I remember I don’t really have to set my alarm clock (which I’ll still do, because I can’t stand wasting the whole day). Fortunately, I’ve done a pretty good job of “chilling out” as I threatened to do in my last post.

To start, I locked myself in my house to do nothing but read for three days! Okay, I did take some breaks—I did the housework, I went to the gym everyday (and worked it so hard I’m still having trouble walking), I ran a couple errands (and by ran, I mean hobbled from my car into each destination because my legs are so sore), I planned with my collaborating teacher about next year, and I also went to a few appointments—but otherwise, I did a darn good job of reading, reading, and more reading. I don’t think I’ve done that much straight reading since my teen years, and I have to tell you, it felt fantastic!

Only eight of twelve…but you’ll want to read them all!

I started by finishing Charlaine Harris’Deadlocked. It’s the twelfth book of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series, the very series on which HBO loosely based their True Blood series (I stress loosely). The books are a real treat, and though I can tell, and understand, that Ms. Harris is winding down the series, I still find the characters and their adventures incredibly entertaining. Sookie is a telepathic waitress in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. With the frustrating ability to read everybody’s mind, she is thrilled to discover she can’t read the minds of vampires—so naturally, she takes up with one. From there she takes up with a whole slew of vampires…and eventually, a whole collection of interesting beings. Also important to note is that vampires are now mainstreamed into society, thanks to the creation of a synthetic called “True Blood” that keeps them from having to feed off humans (except for fun).

Hilarious? It is. The joy of Harris’s series is that she manages to intertwine all sorts of fantastical creatures in a modern setting, mixing race (humans versus supernaturals), southern town culture, love, government (vampire politics), and the dealings of an average southern girl as she handles some not-so-average events. The series is fun, genuine, and clever, and I have delighted in the whole thing. I will admit I had trouble really getting into it until the second book, but since then I’ve been hooked. I also watch the show, but only because I love a good train wreck, and this show is by all means a train wreck that jumped off the book storyline halfway through season one (Why? Why?!). View at your own risk, and know the books are about a hundred times better…eh, the Math teacher in me needs to revise. Make that a million.

After my delightful adventure in Sookieville, I decided to tackle some of the blog posts I’d missed. I’m still catching up, but it was refreshing to have a bounty of posts waiting for me in my inbox from my favorite bloggers. Some of them were funny, some thoughtful, others clever or artistic—at some point in the future, I will showcase all my favorite blogs here. I really love the people whose writing I’m reading, both because they’re amazing and because most of them are some truly fascinating people with the best hearts in the world.

Next up: half of the final reflections I asked my Precalculus students to write at the end of the year (still going through those, too!). This assignment is one I started a couple years ago, and it is the very one that made me want to teach English. The papers are honest, thoughtful, and interesting, and I get a kick out of reading my students’ page-long descriptions of what they learned/hated/mastered, and how they grew (or didn’t grow) as students. In the math classroom, we don’t often get to see this reflective side—and so I suppose now you can see why I figured out English was the way to go. 🙂

Finally, I opted to tackle one of the books from my reading list to prepare for teaching English in the fall. Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, is one that some close colleagues weren’t sure about because they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to read it. I am so glad I picked it up! Brave, warm, and heart wrenching, the tale is written in Ellen’s 9- to 11-year-old narration as she leads you through her troubled life. The story bounces a bit between her present life and her old life, carrying through the death of her mother, her abusive father, her discovery of a “new mama,” and all the experiences in between. The book also covers issues of race, the culture of the South, and of course, domestic violence. Ellen is definitely an endearing character, and I can’t wait to explore the book more (and again, and again…) in the fall with my students. It’s a fast read, so I encourage you to check it out.

What’s next? I intend to spend a good chunk of tomorrow editing my book, but naturally I’ll need to pick another book to read. My to-read stack is a bit out of control, and I haven’t decided on fantasy or literary just yet…

Only time will tell. If, that is, my muscles will let me get out of this chair.

Ow, ow, ow…

🙂


Sweet Summer Blessings

I’m sitting here with a great big grin on my face—because my summer vacation started about five hours ago. Hurray!

You may know a teacher or two—heck, you may be a teacher yourself—so it probably isn’t much of a surprise that as much as we love our jobs, we also delight in our summers. Teaching is intense, no matter what age or subject, and I’m certain that most of us would lose our minds without the summer break.

Of course, while we love summer, we must first ride the rollercoaster that is the chaos of the end, that final stretch to get our kids as prepared as possible before the screeching brakes of finals, grades, and the inevitable close of shop. Honestly, I have no recollection of where the last two weeks went. I appear to have dropped off Twitter and most of my other social media outlets. My dishes are piled everywhere. My laundry could take days. My poor, poor house could use a heavy-duty cleaning. (Uh, did I pay my bills?)

Fortunately, sweet summer is here! It’s a wonderful job perk for which I am eternally grateful, and one I also don’t like to waste. It’s a time I morph into a completely different being: I stay up late, I socialize more, and my creative output is seemingly endless.

And what will I accomplish this summer? For starters, I have a few shorts whose submission status I’m due to check on. I’m also almost 75% done with my last edit on Kyresa, and I plan to wrap that up by late next week so as to start querying agents. Then there’s another novel and a couple more shorts in the works…nevermind reading about 100 posts by my favorite bloggers that I’ve overlooked in the craze of the last couple weeks. I have some preparation reading to do for my start as an English teacher next year, and of course, there is the very exciting Cascade Writers Conference I’ll be heading to at the end of July. All in all, it should be a fantastic summer!

Now while I’m very excited to do all of that, I will need a transition out of the madness and into the summer. It’s that ever-so-important “chill time” to break down the teacher brain and regrow the full-time summer writer brain…a little bit of relaxation and recuperation to get all the gears aligned and working properly.

So, I guess I should start by tackling those dishes. 🙂


Will ARROW Be Fall’s TV Adventure to Watch?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Caught within the chaos that is the end of the school year, I’m just stopping in with a short one today. My friend passed along a clip that kicked off a great second-to-last day of work, so I wanted to share it with you. It’s a preview for the CW’s new fall show, Arrow, and it looks rather intriguing!

I admit, I loved Smallville. Tom Welling played an entertaining Clark Kent, and Justin Hartley as his Green Arrow sidekick always made me wonder if some sort of spin-off was in order. Based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow series, CW’s Arrow isn’t exactly a spin-off, though it will follow debonair avenger Oliver Queen and his extraordinary arrow skills. I’m not sure where they’ll head on the show…but with Stephen Amell (wow!) playing lead, I hope it lives up to its hype. 🙂

Until next time…to have a sneak peek at the preview, click here.


More Seniors Moving Along…

Just a short one today.

It is 3:30 p.m., and I am on a bus with 52 seniors (of a total of 250+) on our way back from the Senior Trip to Great America. No injuries, no trouble, no drama, and the kids are nice and calm after a fun adventure with their classmates for what will be one of their last times together.

I’m not going to lie–I love a break from campus here and there, but the main reason I asked to chaperone this trip is because this group of seniors has been my favorite, hands down, in ten years of teaching.

Some of them inspired me, others just worked really hard in my classes, and some were truly exceptional kids that I am proud to usher out into the world. Life is a great big opportunity they’re about to embrace, a chance for them to flourish and grow, and to demonstrate how much they’ve learned in their four years here at Tam High.

Awesome work, kiddos. I am so grateful to have met you, honored to have taught you, and delighted to see what you become.

Congratulations, Class of ’12!


Review of SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

I have long anticipated the premiere of Snow White and the Huntsman, and so of course I was nearly ecstatic to catch a nice and packed 8:30 p.m. show last night!

Directed by relative newcomer Rupert Sanders, Snow White and the Huntsman stars Charlize Theron as the evil Queen Ravena, Kristen Stewart as Snow White, and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. The entire piece is a dark retelling of the treasured fairy tale, and I think it worked out well.

I’ve always enjoyed a nearly gothic twist on fantasy, so for me, the director’s cinematic choices were exquisite. The focus was no longer on the incredibly beautiful Snow White and her silly little love affair with Prince Charming—this was a tale of a tortured Princess whose inner beauty was part of her destiny, and whose strength and conviction overturned the tyranny of an extraordinarily evil Queen. In addition, this take focused on the kinship between Snow White and the Huntsman, thereby removing it from the everlasting “Girl meets boy, girl loses boy, boy finds girl through some trial and tribulations, and girl and boy fall in love and live happily ever after, yay!” tradition of most fairy tales. This version was about honor and loyalty, kinship and companionship, belief in one’s strength, following one’s heart, and rising up against evil and wrongdoing—a real fairy tale for actual grown ups!

Overall, the cinematography was beautiful and lush; Sanders used a wonderful play of light and dark to emphasize the dismal nature of the kingdom as well as the madness of the Queen. Also spectacular was the repeated contrast of blood against snow, which is of course the epitome of what we’ve come to recognize as Snow White’s unique characteristics—dark hair, fair skin, and blood-red lips. Many scenes in the movie were reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, and Lord of the Rings, adding it to a long line of visually stunning fantasy work.

The casting was also surprisingly workable—though honestly, Charlize Theron is fairly hard to swallow as an ugly queen (nonetheless, the effects team did a splendid job of aging her to fit the part). Theron played a jealous, obsessed Queen with great skill, and paired with the creepy images of her soldiers, mirror, and magic, her onscreen presence was ferociously chilling. Stewart, with her girl-next-door prettiness, did a good job of playing a Princess coming into her own strength, the emphasis in her part on the beauty she carried within. Finally, the handsome Chris Hemsworth portrayed a believable Huntsman, whose personal torment is made good through his assistance to a would-be queen.

I’d also like to mention the unbelievable costume work of Colleen Atwood—she truly deserves an Oscar for this film. Complete with the decadence of real feathers, skulls, and jewels, some of Ravena’s pieces were remarkably gorgeous!

All in all, I found the movie to be an impressive redux of a classic tale, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Sanders’s work in the future. If you haven’t had a chance to get to the theatre, make sure you check out Snow White and the Huntsman soon.

Happy viewing, everyone!


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