Saturday, June 29, 2013

Movie Memory Lane

(This was originally posted by me on Downtown YA.)

The other day I overheard a conversation between several of the girls in one of my classes. They were talking about Patrick Swayze and the movie Dirty Dancing (1987), which they had watched over the weekend. They were talking about how good looking Patrick Swayze was, and one of the girls said she wanted to marry him.

By now they realized I’m listening to them and they asked me if I had seen the movie and if I thought Patrick Swayze was good looking.

Yes, I’ve seen the movie. In fact, I saw it when it first came out.

Yes, Patrick Swayze was absolute good looking! And I thought it was a sad day when he died a few years ago.

The girls got really quiet for a little bit then they asked me what other movies I saw when I was a teen.

How many of you remember when these movies came out?

  • The Breakfast Club (1985)  --  Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought. 
  • Weird Science (1985)  --  Two nerdish boys attempt to create the perfect woman, but she turns out to be more than that.
  • Sixteen Candles (1984)  --  A young girl’s “sweet sixteen” birthday becomes anything but special as she suffers from every embarrassment possible.
  • Pretty in Pink (1986)  --  A poor girl must choose between the affections of her doting childhood sweetheart and a rich but sensitive playboy.
  • The Lost Boys (1987)  --  After moving to a new town, two brothers are convinced that the area is frequented by vampires.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely loved these movies and still watch them today when I get the opportunity. And a lot of the girls I teach are watching them too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Cute Gift

One of my students gave this to me at the end of school this year. It's simple, but one of the cutest ideas I've seen in awhile. I would never have though of reusing a 2 liter soda bottle this way.
Bet you can't guess what our school colors are?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Zombies are everywhere!!!

(This was originally posted by me on Downtown YA.)  

Zombies are popular.

Warm Bodies, the movie, is doing very well in theaters. Now we have World War Z to watch. Walking Dead is back for another season.

Zombies are definitely popular.

Last year, after a series of zombie nightmares, I started tossing around ideas for a zombie book.
In my dreams, the zombies were relentless, seemingly unstoppable monsters, and they chased me everywhere. I couldn’t get away from them. Yes, the dreams bothered me because I remembered a lot of the details you normally forget. So to deal with my dreams, I tossed around zombies as a possible book idea.

Some people would probably call this therapy.

I called it dealing with my nightmares while coming up with a cool story idea.

I took the zombie idea and ran with it. Before long I had a complete outline. And what did I do with it? I put the outline in a binder and forgot about it. The nightmares were gone, so I wasn’t thinking about zombies anymore.

And then I found the outline.
I read through it, and BAM! Before I knew it, I had a complete manuscript.

The nightmares about zombies haven’t returned. I like to think that whatever caused the nightmares, is happy with the story I wrote.

And the story?  Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that Middle Grade book.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Fishing Trip

Earlier this month Mr. Cole and I got to go bay fishing for the day in the Gulf of Mexico just out of Seadrift, Texas. I had a blast. Lost the first red fish I caught when the line broke. Wish I had gotten him in the boat to see just how big he was because he put up a fight!

 Later that morning I managed to haul in another red fish. I was so excited. This was the first time I had ever caught one big enough that I had to put a tag on him. It was so cool! He was 30.5 inches long. I also caught a trout that was 28 inches long.
The guy next to me caught the second biggest red fish. The fish hanging behind us is the total catch between both boats.

Out of the group that went on this trip--eight people in the group divided out on two boats with guides--I caught the biggest fish. It's kind of funny, because I was the only female in the group.

A view of the Gulf from the front of the boat.

The pelican were hanging around the dock, just waiting for someone to start cleaning fish. The guys threw the heads and other remains into the water, and the pelicans just swarmed the area. We even had a couple of dolphins show up, but they were moving a little too fast for me to catch a good picture of them with my cellphone.

Here's another view of the Gulf and the shoreline from the boat I was on. In most of the places we went, the water was only inches deep. It was cool to look down and see stuff swim around the boat.

As you can see from the above picture, the sun and I do not get along very well. I'm still peeling, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I tend to sun burn really easy even with sunscreen on.  My face looks really red, but it was more wind burnt than sun burnt because I wore a hat during the entire trip. And yes, I had on sunscreen the whole time and still got sun burnt. But I love fishing, even though I don't get to go as often as I would like, so I just have to deal with the sun. :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The importance of music

(This was originally posted by me on Downtown YA.)  

When I taught writing, I played music because it inspired creativity in my students’ writings. When I taught reading I played music to calm and sooth my students as they read and drifted into the worlds they were reading about.

As I write, I listen to music. I create play lists for the stories. Pick songs that fit the characters and the moods of the story.

But why is music so important?

  1. Music is a universal language. It evokes feelings, and even bridges gaps that spoken language often cannot. It brings people together in celebration and prayer. It is a commonality in a world of diversity. It is something we can all understand even when we don't understand each others language.
  2. Music inspires and evokes emotions. Music helps us to express feelings and emotions that we sometimes find very difficult to find the words to express. It can help us to express our love. It can help us to express our sorrow.
  3. Music sparks imagination and enhances our creativity. The right song at the right time can cause a spark to ignite, and suddenly a masterpiece is born.
  4. Music enhances learning. Music effects learning. It makes it more enjoyable. Various studies have shown that music effects several different brain functions--motor control, imagination, sight, hearing, and memory. Music in the classroom increases learning and raises student scores.
  5. Music creates ambiance. It can enhance or add to the mood the environment is already evoking. It helps people to relax.
  6. Music is spiritual. All religions use music. 
  7. Music is just fun.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Next?

I've had several emails and students from the school where I teach asking if there is another book and if so when is it coming out.

The answer is yes, there is another book in the Children of Atlantis series.

I'm working on the outline for the third book and it will be out in the early 2014. The working title right now is Warrior of Atlantis. The book will pick up immediately where Wrath of Hades ended.

I'm also working on a novella that will come out toward the summer. It's working title is Ethan's Trials. This story will focus on Ethan and consequences of his actions in Wrath of Hades.

I've created a lot of background information and stories for various characters so that I would have an idea of what's making them act the way they are now. I plan to rework some of the stories and release them as novellas. Right now, I don't have any release dates for them, but as I do, I will post them in the Works in Progress section.

I've also have ideas for a couple of new series. I'm working on the outlines for one and refining the idea for the other, but it will be a little longer before these are anywhere near the stage for me to begin writing.

Too bad I can't spend the summer by the gulf writing all day long.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Inspiration is Everywhere, You Just Have to Look.

(This was originally posted by me on Downtown YA.)

People, especially my students, often ask me how I come up with all the ideas for my stories, and my answer to them is you can find ideas and inspiration everywhere.

And then they ask me what I mean by that.

So where do my ideas, or at least the inspirations, come from? Well, they come from:
  • My nightmares,
  • Pictures,
  • The news,
  • People,
  • Odd or strange places,
  • Things that scare me,
  • Myths and fairy tales.
These are just a few of the places my ideas come from.

Look at the following picture and what do you see?

Cemetery in Cameron, Texas (picture by Annie Rachel Cole)
Obviously, I see an old grave with a metal fence around it. But is there anything else there? What does your imagination tell you?

I see a grave with a fence around it, and I the fence meant to keep people out, or is it meant to keep something in? Who or what is buried there? How did they get there? Maybe there's a ghost who roams the cemetery--the ghost of a woman who was buried alive.

I remember driving by this very cemetery as a teenager, the only difference was it was very much over grown with bushes and weeds, but during winter you could get a glimpse of tombstones. This cemetery was the inspiration for my short story 'No Rest for the Spirit'--a short story about a woman who was buried alive and now haunts the area.

Ideas or inspiration for stories are everywhere.
Look around. 
And then ask yourself, WHAT IF?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Life is Crazy

The last four weeks have been absolutely crazy, and not all of it in a good way. In May I had a virtual blurb tour for How Not to Train a Zombie. This is the first I've ever done and I learned a lot of things as to how to make the next one better. Thanks to everyone who stopped by and gave their support.

May is also the beginning of the end of the school year. That means end of the year field trips, band concerts, award ceremonies...the list goes on, and then we get ready for finals. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's been a crazy trip.

And then, in the middle of all this, we get word that my DH's aunt had a stroke. It was a bad stroke and now she's in a nursing rehab home. It left her paralyzed on her left side and unable to speak. Strokes are so cruel. One night you go to bed and the next morning you wake but aren't able to move or call for help. She's always been so independent. I don't know if she's going to make it or not.

Life is crazy, but somehow it goes on.