Blogs / Life

Welcome

Welcome!

I write. I drink tea. And I live my life to the fullest, knowing that my abilities come from God.

My name is Kayla Ann, I’m an author who just recently released her first non-fiction book with McFarland Publishing House (2020). Agency in the Hunger Games: Desire, Intent, and Action in the Novels takes a scholarly look at why readers love Suzanne Collins’ famous series The Hunger Games. At its heart, my book comes to the conclusion that we, like Collins’ characters, are looking for agency, for the ability to control our desires and actions regardless of internal and external influences.

I have been writing short stories, fiction, poetry, and non-poetry my whole life. My first short story, “Kate the Pirate,” written in second grade was only the beginning of a long and wonderful journey. At a young age, I was dedicated to eventually become a published and established author. However, as any writer may know, this is not as easy as it seems. This wonderful world of writing is also complex and sometimes exhausting. So in this blog I will be offering up Writing Tips, Writing/Poetry competitions, excerpts of my own work, and my own experiences in the hope of encouraging other authors to continue on creating wondrous worlds of their own.

Feel free to hit me up in the comments with any questions you might have about writing.

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©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

teacher life

The Start to My First Year of Teaching

Like many of first year teachers, this year has been one that I will never forget. The other day, I was speaking with my principal (literally one of the greatest bosses I have ever worked for) and she asked me if I had written down my first year experiences. She encouraged me, saying that no one had ever had a year quite like mine. Today’s blog post is part journal/part story as I share with you what it was like at the start of my teaching career . . .

Back in August, I was attending teacher orientation, learning everything from classroom management to computer systems to emergency drills. School was scheduled to start in one week, just seven days away and I was hired to be the new Yearbook Teacher, Part-Time Librarian, and Part-Time Office Assistant (mouthful, right?). All summer, I had been praying to become the new 8th Grade English teacher; however, the current 8th Grade English teacher (who had actually taught ME) planned on teaching one more year. I was content to wait and grateful for the other job in the meantime. I knew that I would continue to learn from the current 8th Grade Teacher and be even more prepared for the job when it would become available.

Then, just seven days before school was scheduled to start, before kids were scheduled to sit down in the classrooms, my Middle School Principal called me into her office and said, “So Kayla, how do you feel about teaching 8th Grade English next week?”

Without a second though, I answered, “Yes, of course, let’s do this.”

All we could do was laugh. Over the summer, she and I had joked about this happening, about the possibility of everything changing at the last second. The previous English teacher, a wonderful woman of God who inspired my love of English, was unfortunately experiencing too many health issues and realized she needed to retire. With only a week before school, the next seven days passed by in a blurred flurry of anxiety and excitement. I remember tearing down all my decor from the Yearbook room, seeing what I could re-purpose for my new classroom, rushing to the School Supply Store, and desperately trying to assist the previous English Teacher in organizing her classroom (now MY classroom), all the while creating lesson plans for the first week of school.

Looking back now, I am so grateful for the help of my husband and mother who came to help me transform the classroom into my own space. I am so thankful for the previous English teacher who loved on me and prayed over me. I am so in awe of God’s amazing plan. All summer long, as I prayed for the job, he was preparing the heart of the previous teacher to relinquish her classroom that had become her home. All summer long, as I prayed for the job, he was preparing MY heart for what became a most memorable year . . .

blogging tips, Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Set a Scheduled Time

Read any “How to Write” books, watch any author talk about how they did it, and they’ll tell you: They protected their writing time. 

This is the advice I have heard a thousand times and it’s the advice I’ve given out multiple times (even when I sometimes fail to follow it). Want to know why?

It works.

Today’s tip works for writing fiction, short stories, non-fiction, poetry, and especially blogging! If you are a writer of any kind, you must be intentional with your writing time. If you are waiting for your schedule to open up or for inspiration to hit, you’ll end up like me and a thousand other writers who find that months fly before you sit down to write again.

Of course, it’s super easy for me to tell you, “Just be intentional with your time.” (I think I can hear some of you rolling your eyes at me. I might have even rolled my eyes a bit.)

No matter how great and how TRUE this advice is, it’s just not that simple! Between jobs and life, family and friends, scheduling writing time is nearly impossible for the average writer who must support themselves and their families with a full time job.

Part of learning how to schedule your time is learning how to take advantage of the time we are given. Currently, all around the world, literally in almost every country, people are facing an extended period of free time. Writers are being forced away from their livelihoods in what has become both a blessing and a curse. While I cannot and do not want to minimize what people are going through, I want to encourage writers everywhere to spend their new “free time” pursuing their craft instead of losing another eight hours on the couch binge-watching the latest Hulu original.

Starting today, we must make a choice on how we intend to spend our “free time.” Take a hard and honest look at your daily life. Is there an hour (or more) that you spend watching tv that could be dedicated to writing? Even if you do not feel inspired, you should sit down at your computer and write. Dedicate that hour to writing something, it doesn’t even have to be good!

And yet, even with this new free time, there are numerous people who are just as busy as ever. With that in mind, let me ask you this: Can you add an extra 30 minutes to your busy day? Depending on whether you are a morning bird or a night owl, can you extend your day by 30 minutes by getting up early or going to bed late? Even if you do not feel inspired, you should sit down at your computer and write. Dedicate those 30 minutes to writing something, even if its only a few words.

Whether its 30 minutes, an hour, or longer, by holding to this schedule, you are setting a routine for yourself so that when inspiration does strike, you will be ready!

As for me, I plan on setting aside at least an hour every morning to write on a new book (more to come about this in a coming post).

When do you plan to schedule your writing time? Let me know in the comments!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Poetry

An Old Friend

Creativity builds up inside me

I can feel it rising, rising, rising

And yet

My fingers hesitate over the keys

Unfamiliar with the old actuality

Of writing

This renewed and welcomed ability

To chase after productive originality .

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life

It’s Been Awhile; Let’s Catch Up!

Hey Everyone,

It has been a long time since I have accessed WordPress and I really miss this interaction. You all know that I had been slowing down my online presence since January as I began to get overwhelmed by trying to release my first book, finish my first year of teaching, and be a present wife during my first year of marriage (lots of firsts).

Then came COVID . . . Teaching went online which meant that I went from working 10 hour days to 14 hour days as I strove to create online content for my students that mirrored the exact education they would have been receiving without COVID.

All that to say, something had to give and unfortunately that something was my blogging, which really sucked, if I’m being honest.

Now, with school ending in just nine days, I can see the glimmer of hope that summer brings teachers. I plan on diving back into blogging and reconnecting with old friends. So if you’re still there and reading my blogs, please send me your most recent blog post link in the comments! I’m craving some awesome blogging content!

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I’m Back!

COVID-19

Safer-at-Home: All of CA ordered to remain home . . .

It’s official. As of last night, our governor ordered that all Californians stay at home. We are only allowed to leave for essential purposes: getting groceries, gas, going by the bank, picking up prescriptions.

I’m in a state of shock to be honest. Even though I had a feeling that this was coming, nothing compares to it actually happening. I’m an anxious person by nature… it’s something I struggle with every day and lately it’s been more than I can take. When I heard the announcement, I nearly passed out because all I could think is, “What will happen next? How much worse will this get?”

But God’s timing is good. Just after our Governor made that announcement, Sandals church went live with their pre-planned night of worship and prayer:

Night of Prayer

I’m not gonna say I was healed of all my anxiety, but I can tell you that the crippling fear that held me down, that suffocated me, that incapacitated me was lessened to the point where I could get up. I could focus on the positive. I could begin to plan for my “new normal.” I could pray and worship.

Are you feeling incapacitated by fear? By anxiety? Please watch the video above and let’s talk about our shared fear and our hope that is in Jesus Christ.

COVID-19

Coronavirus & Online Instructions

Hey guys . . .

Anyone else feel like the world has been flipped upside down and turned inside out? In a matter of just days, everything changed. The last week has been, I don’t even know how to say it, a memorable experience.

Here in California, we have done our best to keep our schools open as long as possible. As of last Friday, that was no longer possible and schools were ordered to be shut down until April 3rd. As of yesterday, schools are ordered to remain closed until April 30th with a high chance of not reopening again until next Fall.

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Unlike many other public schools in CA, the private school that I work for has re-directed all instruction to be continued online instead of cancelled entirely and I am beyond grateful for this for multiple reasons. Selfishly, I am grateful that I still have my job, my income, and my connection with my kiddos. Thinking of my students, I am grateful that they will have this online portal. It will become a place for them interact with their teachers, each other, and give them focus during the weeks in isolation.

That being said, we’ve gone through 48 hours of intense online training and while I feel more adept at it than 48 hours ago, I know I still have so much to learn!

Any online teachers out there who can offer me some new ways to engage with my students with education, connection, and FUN in mind?!

 

 

The Agency Games

Hunger Games-Inspired Party Foods

We all know that it’s not a party without food! With the new Hunger Games prequel coming out soon, I can see a rise once again in Hunger Games-themed parties around the world. We all know, your party is only as good as your food. 

 

As I was planning my Book Launch, I searched all over the internet for Hunger Games inspired food and while I found some good ones (such as Johanna’s Lumber Sticks), I had a really hard time finding one cohesive list for every district. So, for all your food and Hunger Game enthusiasts out there, please enjoy a full menu for each of the 13 Districts of Panem!

District 1: Luxury
Glimmer’s Hand-Dipped Chocolate Strawberries

District 2: Masonry and Defense

Cato and Clove’s Kit Kat Bricks

District 3: Technology

Beetee’s Wires

District 4: Fishing

Finnick’s Fish

District 5: Power

Foxface’s Electric Lemonade

District 6: Transportation

Capitol Imported Tea

District 7: Lumber

Johanna’s Lumber Sticks

District 8: Textiles (Fabric)

Bonnie & Twill’s Assorted Fabrics

District 9: Grain

Capitol Bread Rolls

District 10: Livestock

Assorted Meats

District 11: Agriculture
Rue’s Summer Salad

District 12: Coal

Katniss’s Coal Cupcakes

District 13: Graphite Mining

Rebel’s Nightlock Berry Salad

Happy Hunger Games Everyone!

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor!

Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection Day 5: YOU

Can we all just be honest and authentic for a couple of minutes?

I am encouraging ALL of you to be willing to be vulnerable in the comment section.

Anyone who is serious about writing has most likely received some sort of rejection in their lives. Maybe it was not an official rejection letter, maybe it was some peer review (from family or friends) that did not go as you expected.

Writing is hard, and rejection/criticism makes it harder. But I think the thing that is so detrimental about rejection is when we think that we are alone in our rejection. We think, “This is a personal reflection on ME.”

I am hoping to combat this idea and the isolation that can be a result of rejection by encouraging you to comment below your own experiences with rejection. As a writing community, let us come together to share our own struggles.

So, if you are up for it, in the comment section please answer:

Have you ever experienced rejection for your writing? If so, was the rejection kind or harsh? And more importantly, how did you respond/handle the rejection? What advice would you give to someone who just received their 1st, 2nd, 3rd rejection letter?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection Day 4: Louisa May Alcott

Perhaps the name Lousia May Alcott rings a bell in your ears? Alcott was the author of Little Women. The novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. These women are loosely based on the women in Alcott’s own life. According to VanityFair, “More than a century after it was first published, the March sisters still galvanize readers, writers, and Hollywood producers.”

However, Alcott received one of the harshest rejection letters of her time when Publisher James T. Fields rejected her work and advised her, “Stick to your teaching, Miss Alcott. You can’t write” (Boston Women’s Heritage Trail). If you saw the recent movie, Little Women, you saw first hand the treatment that Jo received for her writing.

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What might have happened in Alcott had allowed these insults to change her mind of writing? She never would have published the first and second parts of Little Women.

After her success, Louisa herself wrote, “Twenty years ago, I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose” (Boston Women’s Heritage Trail).

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Don’t let someone else’s opinion decide your fate. Set sail on your own journey.

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection Day 3: Robert Galbraith

Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym used by J.K. Rowling who wished to separate her thriller novels from her famous children’s series, Harry Potter. Many people are already aware of both J.K. Rowling’s struggles as an author and of her success. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down twelve times and the thirteenth editor only published it because his daughter wanted to know what happened next. He encouraged J.K. Rowling to “not quite her day job.”

In theaters alone, J.K. Rowling’s movie adaptations of her novels earned her 3.2 billion dollars (Movie Mojo). Quite obviously, Rowling could easily quit her day job and focus solely on her writing.

When Rowling finally wrapped up Harry Potter and decided to move on to other books, she used the name Robert Galbraith and was rejected AGAIN by one of the same publishing companies who TURNED HER DOWN BEFORE.

j.k. rowling tweet

 Sometimes, our work needs improvement and sometimes, the publishers are just dead wrong. The hard part is, we rarely get to know the reasons behind the rejection so the best thing we can do is work to perfect our writing and be persistent in getting it out there!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.