Thursday, April 23, 2015

YA Authors, Planting Trees & Prom!

Writing Club Meets a Real, Live YA Author!

My friend and former co-worker, Sandy Hall, published a YA novel.  And not only did she publish a YA novel, she entered a manuscript into the online forum of a major publisher that was starting a new YA label and after lots of feedback and edits, her manuscript was voted the best.  And not only that, but she got a multi-book contract that allowed her to quit her job as a youth services librarian and write FULL TIME!
This is her book.  The girls and I went to her book launch party last summer.
It was very exciting!

I ran into Sandy at a party a couple of months ago and we got to talking and she said she would come and talk to my writing group!  The girls were super excited to have a real, live author talk to them in person!  We talked for hours about the writing life, getting ideas, character development, plotting, plots, favorite books, Dr. Who, making stories timeless and many, many other things.  She encouraged the girls to get involved with online writing forums and communities.

Sandy shared how she plotted her first novel with these notecards and a ring to bind them together. Characters got different colored cards; she had a card for each month and what happened that month; a card for what happened to each character during that month and cards for plot and other things all arranged chronologically.  She also shared how the story came to be: a story about what it is really like to go to college; a story about a guy and a girl who meet and like each other, but never talk, but everyone around them knows they need to be together.  She also shared this video with the girls on Three Act Structure by KatyTastic that she said was really, really helpful in plotting her novel.
It was such a great experience!  Sandy and I always used to talk about our favorite authors and we even used to travel to meet them and go to book signings and may or may not have discussed stalking them.  As readers, authors are more exciting to us than movie stars!  And now Sandy is one of them!  She told us how she was invited to a dinner with different famous YA authors and just kept giggling when she met anyone because she was so excited to be there!

1000 Trees PLUS!

The year we started homeschooling, Jason set a personal goal to plant 1000 trees in his lifetime.  Through his work and volunteer efforts, he met that goal last year.  But that didn't stop him from planting even more trees!  He arranged to get 600 MORE saplings and is distributing them to garden clubs and at Little League games and Earth Day celebrations in our area this month.

It really upsets Jason that so many people take down trees and don't replant them.  He could go on and on and on about it from how it affects wildlife to air pollution to oxygen needs.  I love and admire that he doesn't just get mad, he does something about it!  He gets out there and he volunteers his time and he educates people and he gives them free saplings to plant!

In a cool turn of events this year, some of his friends from when he was in his teens and twenties showed up to get trees to plant to support his efforts!

The Prom

I write this blog mostly for friends and family who want to see what is going on but are not on Instagram.  So, I will share that my girls are not missing out on any of the traditional high school experiences.  They go to a Masquerade Ball in the autumn with homeschool teens from all over our state.  They attend Game Nights 3-4 times a year with homeschool teens from all over our state.  And now that she is in high school, Allie attended her first PROM!

Allie and her friend Katie
The NJ Homeschool Prom is held down the shore, near where my brother lives.  Allie got ready at my brother's house and then we took a bunch of photos.  Our family is REALLY SILLY.  The tennis racquets were my niece's idea. But, of course we had to go with it, racquets!

Jason and my brother hung out and jammed on their guitars and my sister-in-law and I took Allie to her prom.  First we stopped and took photos on the beach.  It was a really fun bonding experience with my sister-in-law who is really funny and was telling Allie all kinds of things to do and not to at the prom.  It was hysterical!

My sister-in-law also set up this pose...

We were walking by this car and my sister-in-law INSISTED that Allie pose with it!  We were three silly girls, let me tell you!  But we had such a blast!  I am SO GLAD that my sister-in-law came along--she made the whole thing so much fun!

these poor kids, it was like they were on the red carpet and the moms were snapping pictures like the papparazzi
Back at my brother's house, Jason and my brother were jamming.

Jason, Piper and I had a great time hanging out, eating Surf Taco, talking, laughing and playing games with my brother, sister-in-law and niece while Allie danced for 5 hours with friends, enjoyed a Shirley Temple fountain and a Nacho Bar and was part of a million prom selfies!