Blogs / Life

First Year of Teaching: Inspiring the Next Generation of Writers

When I was in high school, I was always asked the cliche question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The answer was immediate, “An author! But I’ll probably teach too.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the idea of teaching, but it always came secondary to my desire to write. I started teaching college classes in the Spring of 2018, after I received my Master’s degree in English Literature, and realized that I not only enjoyed teaching, I loved it. There was nothing better than helping college students realize that they did not have to hate English even if they had hated it their entire high school experience. In fact, they could even, Heaven forbid, LIKE it!

Then, in the Fall of 2019, I got my wish. I was hired as a full-time Middle School English teacher at a private Christian School where I could help students become better readers and better writers while sharing my love of Christ. This past year, as crazy as it was, taught me that teaching no longer comes second to my desire to write.

I learned that my dreams of becoming a well-established author and my focus on inspiring the next generation to love writing and reading could work together hand-in-hand.

In my English class this year, I shared with my students the process of writing Agency in the Hunger Games, the revision process, the publishing process, and I even got to bring a copy of my book to show my class. I taught them about perserverance and endurance. I told them that at their age, I had sat in that very same classroom, in those VERY same desks, writing in one of my dozens of notebooks while people around me told me that I was wasting my time. I would never be published. The field was too hard to break through. I told them that I had not listened to those voices, but that I had followed my dream and I had worked hard for it. I told them that the dreams they had now did not have to be impossiblilities.

I never realized how much my words meant to them until about a month ago.

A month after online learning ended, one of my students emailed me to let me know that my personal story had inspired him. He had always wanted to write, but never felt good enough being so young and so inexperienced. This summer, he was challenging himself to write his first full-length novel and it was all because I had encouraged him to do so. He told me that he was writing his book in honor of me. It was a simple email, only a few lines long, but it meant the world to me.

I realized then that as an author and as a teacher, it is my duty to inspire the next generation of writers and educators.

What good is experience if we are not willing to share it with others? What good is failure if we can not use it to better ourselves? What use is success if we do not share that success with others to inspire them to follow after their dreams as well?

As both an author and a teacher, I have a new dream of what to be when I grow up. I hope to be the inspiration that the next generation needs.

100,000 Word Count Challenge, My Writings

The Runic Saga #WIP #Pitch #ContemporaryFantasy

The Runic Saga

(working title)

It’s been five centuries since the collapse of the world as it was once known, ravaged by war, disease, and natural disasters. Larissa Daldóttir lives in the leftovers of a forgotten world, a small nation known as Evrópa which resides under the iron reign of the Diamante Empress. Larissa’s only desire is to live unnoticed, especally when it comes to Halla, her second-born sister who is technically illegal under the one-child policy.

When Halla oversteps her bounds, she triggers a series of events that unlock secrets from the past, secrets that the Empress is wiling to silence at any cost. Larissa must abandon everything she knows to protect Halla, but to do so, she must be willing to face the truth of her own history before it is too late. 

Runic Saga

©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.

The Agency Games

WINNER of the GIVEAWAY and more . . .

Over the past month, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet many new awesome bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers, facebookers, and authors. I want to start off by saying: THANK YOU.

Thank you to every single person who reads my posts, who reblogged the GIVEAWAY, and interact with me regularly through our social media sites. In just a moment, I am going to announce the winner of my Giveaway, but I have a second announcement that I hope you will stick around for…

Without further ado, the winner of Agency in the Hunger Games GIVEAWAY is:

Annette Rochelle Aben

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Congratulations, Annette Rochelle Aben! Please go to my CONTACT page and send me an email including your mailing address so that I can ship this book to you as soon as possible!

For my second announcement, I want to thank the blogger who shared and reblogged my GIVEAWAY the most on various social media sites:

Eugi’s Causerie I

As a HUGE thank you, I would like to send you a copy of my book as well! Please send me an email and I will be sure to send out my book!

That’s all folks, thank you to everyone else who participated and reblogged!

*Also, in the near future, I am considering opening up “BOOK REVIEW LOTTERIES” where I will post a blog for twenty-four hours accepting submissions of books that people are wanting reviewed. At the end of that twenty-four hours, I will select one of the submitted books which I will later review and post on my blog.

Would you be interested in particpating? Let me know in the comments!

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: RE-WRITE instead of Revise

*This is a tip that I first found on Pinterest and used when re-writing Agency in the Hunger Games. I am using this tip again with my current WIP.

Often times, when writers finish the first draft of their WIP, most jump straight into the editing phase. We can’t help it; we’re excited and already thinking about querying and sending out manuscripts, but if you do that, you are missing a HUGE step in the publishing process.

Here’s a piece of advice that changed my writing life entirely. When you finish your first draft, you should not go straight to editing. Instead you should write the first draft all over again from the beginning. Literally, pull up a blank document and rewrite your manuscript sentence by sentence.

IKnow It Sounds Crazy Hear Me Out GIF - IKnowItSoundsCrazy ...

Before you turn away in disgust, hear me out.

Why It Works:

When you have to rewrite (or retype) your manuscript, you will inherently be more open to removing unnecessary parts (because you’re not actually deleting anything) and you are far more likely to add more material and flush out your ideas now that you know how your story ends. You can add in more foreshadowing, more world building, more character depth, etc. Instead of having to go through your draft and figure out where to put those items, they come much more naturally through the rewrite.

My Results

I am currently using this technique to expand my Contemporary Fantasy Young Adult Fiction piece (80,000 Word Count in 10 Weeks Challenge). In my original draft at this point in the story (finished four years ago), I had written about 80 pages and 22,839 words. At the same point in the plot with my new draft, I have written 163 pages and 49,235 words. And that is AFTER completing removing entire scenes and chapters. Not only did I DOUBLE the amount of story, but I can say whole-heartedly that it is a BETTER story. It’s a lot of work to re-write an entire draft when you just want to move into the next phrase, but I can say that the result was worth it!

Not only did I greatly improve the quantity of my writing but, more importantly, I also improved the quality of my work.

Have you ever tried this technique before? Did it work for you?

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you enjoyed today’s writing tip, be sure to visit my page “Writing Tips” on my main menu and learn more tips and tricks! Have any writing questions? Leave them in the comments below!

©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.

80,000 Word Challenge

80,000 Word Count Challenge Update (3)

It’s Time for Update #3!

I started this 80,000 Word Count in 10 Weeks challenge six weeks ago. (If you did not read that post, you can read it here!) As of today, I have officially passed the half way point of my 2020 Summer Challenge.

After six weeks of writing every day, (okay okay, I actually missed one day due to illness) my goal word count was 48,000 words. I  currently have a grand total of . . .

 48,072 Words

Update 3

To be more precise, I am in the midst of Chapter 12. I have 159 pages and 48,072words.

Looking at the above graph, I can see that I had a bit of an extra lead at my last update, but I lost that lead this last week after I needed to take a personal day. But hey, at least I hit my word count goal!

There were a couple of scenes over the past two weeks that I have been looking forward to writing since the start of this challenge and wow, they evolved into so much more than they were in the original draft! (PROOF that REWRITING, NOT revising, works! I’ll have more to say about that at a later date.)

Now that I have finished those fun scenes, I have to deal with the fallout, leaving me looking something like . . .

kaylaannauthor – KaylaAnn

I know the next four weeks will be the toughest as I am completely changing the original ending of my first draft! I appreciate all the encouragement you have sent my way so far and hope that all of your writing adventures are going just as well!

May Your Ink Never Run Dry &

May Your Cups of Tea Always Remain Warm

 

©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.

The Agency Games

Title, Book Blurb, and Cover Art Release for “The Agency Games”

On January 18, 2018, I shared with you all my dream, goal, and journey of writing, editing, finishing, and publishing “The Agency Games.”

Well, nearly two years later I am proud to share with you my official and finalized title, book blurb, and cover art:

 

“Agency in The Hunger Games

Desire, Intent, and Action in the Novels”

For 21st-century young adults struggling for personal autonomy in a society that often demands compliance, the bestselling trilogy, The Hunger Games remains palpably relevant despite its futuristic setting. For Suzanne Collins’ characters, personal agency is not only the physical battle of controlling one’s own body, but includes responding to a multitude of internal and external influences such as morality, trauma, power, and hope, while maintaining a sense of self.
This book offers an opportunity to explore personal agency through in-depth examinations of the individual lives of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Cinna, Primrose, and other residents of Panem, and through the analysis of other themes such as the overabundance of bodily imagery, the social expectations within the capitol, and the problematic parental figures of the series. By looking directly at individual agency and how it is gained, exercised, lost, and reclaimed, 21st-century readers will discover their own “dandelion of hope” through the examples set down by Collins’ characters, who establish over and over again that human agency is ultimately always attainable.

The Hunger Games

 

Is this book something you might be interested in? Click the link and be sure to drop a comment: Agency in the Hunger Games – SIGN UP!

Do you know anyone who might be interested in this investigation of their favorite Hunger Games series? Please make sure to reblog or share it with them!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2019

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2019. 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.

The Agency Games

The Agency Games – Official Release Date: Spring 2020

Hey there everyone!

Wow, it has been WAY too long since I have longed on and now that I am on, I plan to catch up as much as I can. December is right around the corner and you all know what that means: BLOGMAS! I will most definitely be posting with Christmas spirit come December.

Now for the REALLY exciting news, yesterday I received an email from the publishers letting me know that my book had passed the editing portion and was moving on to production. You can well imagine my reaction:

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If that wasn’t exciting enough, I received a follow up email from the publishers today letting me know that my book is scheduled to come out in Spring 2020!

After working so hard on this project, going through so many peer reviews, and revisions, sometimes this book did not seem like a possibility. However, today was just a reminder that hard work pays off! Not only did a get an official release season, but I also found my official COVER ART and FINALIZED TITLE on their website!!!

I literally cried happy tears.

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Stick around, because I am revealing that cover art tomorrow!

Lastly, to everyone who has been so incredibly patient with me the last few months during my “invisible” months, thank you! Thank you for the way that you supported me during this whole journey and for the way I know you will continue to do so. I’m still working on that balancing act, but I can promise to find my way back to this wonderful world of blogging.

Love,

Kayla Ann

The Agency Games

Agency Games Friday: Terminology on Reaping Day

Hello there and welcome to “The Agency Games Friday!” On these days, I will be talking all about Suzanne Collin’s famous Hunger Games series! Some of my posts include excerpts that did not make it into my upcoming book or just character discussion. Have any fun questions or comments about The Hunger Games or something you think I should talk about? Drop me a line in the comments!

Today, we are going to discuss the term “reaping.” Now, there are two kinds of people in the world. Person A immediately recognizes this term from The Hunger Games from the title “Reaping Day.” Person B vaguely recalls that this is a term we used to use to refer to when workers would go out in the fields and bring in the harvest. Let’s just say that Collins certainly knew what she was doing when she chose to title the day in which the Capitol steals two children from each district Reaping Day.

So, let’s go ahead and unpack this word, because really, all it takes is one word for Collins to create layer upon layer of meaning in this one scene:

The term “reaping” can have several connotations from the positive imagery of gathering a harvest all the way to the negative concept of a grim reaper. These contradictory interpretations depict both the relief parents feel when their child is not chosen as tribute and the grief that other parents feel when their child is reaped. Furthermore, there is something very violent about the action of reaping. Indeed, it involves the cutting down of whatever is being collected. Likewise, the tributes are being cut down as their identity is stripped away.

Now we have this new term, tribute, and once again, Collins integrates significance with its usage.

In naming those selected to participate in the Games “tributes,” the Capitol attempts to place a positive light on their sacrifice as tribute often refers to a gift willingly given to appease the gods during ancient times. However, despite the Capitol’s pre-approved terminology, the tributes do not give themselves freely, rather the Capitol claims their lives forcibly. In incorporating terms such as reaping and tributes, Collins depicts the bodies of the districts as commodities which the gluttonous populace of the Capitol consumes, unable to see beyond their faux peacock eyelashes. Tributes are subjected to cameramen that perch “like buzzards” and “gobble up” the images of the sacrificial children to feed the audience back home.[i] It is not enough that the districts be punished, the tributes must be humiliated and their bodies must become public property . . . (learn more about the bodies of the tributes and agency in my upcoming book!)

[i] Collins, Hunger, 41

Join me next Friday for more discussions on The Hunger Games!

Comment below: What do you want me to discuss next?

 

©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

Writing Tip: Know Your Source Material

While this tip is mainly for non-fiction writers, it is applicable for you fiction writers too!

For scholarly, nonfiction writers it is so important to know your chosen text better than the back of your hand. Insights and epiphanies come on the 10th or 20th time when re-reading a series not the 2nd or 3rd. This is because every time you read, you gain a new insight, and then the next time you read the same story your view will change and you will read the same events in different light. So keep on reading again and again.

And AGAIN.

While some people prefer to make handwritten notes in the margins, I use color-coded post-it-notes. I do this for several reasons. 1. I can assign different colors to different ideas. For example in the picture below yellow post-it-notes mark something to do with the physical body, pink marks morality and blue marks trauma. These are the three topics through which I am analyzing Katniss’s agency. No doubt when I get into additional characters I will have to add more colors. 2. The post-it-notes give me more room to write out my thoughts than the margins do. 3. If I see a large grouping of post-it-notes in one section I know to more carefully re-read those portions. Of course everyone’s strategies might be different but this is mine.

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Also, while your source material should be your PRIMARY focus, you should always be reading other books, articles, blogs, etc on the same topic. Why? It’s smart to read what other people are saying and noticing. Sometimes you might agree and realize that there is nothing left to say on a particular subject. However, other times you may find something that you disagree with completely or something that was mentioned but never fully answered. In your own writings you can address such arguments and give more insight to previously ignored ideas. Also, if you realize that what you are writing has already been done, you can save yourself some time and effort by finding a new subject.

FICTION readers and writers: the same goes for you! Read what is out there, specifically books in your preferred genre. What are they doing that is working? What are they doing that isn’t working? Read like your life depends on it, because really, your career does.

Before writing comes reading.
My advice: read, read, read, read, read!

Happy Writing Everyone!

***If you liked today’s tip be sure to visit “Writing Tips” on my main menu for more tips and tricks! Have any questions about writing? Leave them in the comments!

©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.

The Agency Games

The Agency Games – Sign Up!

As you all know I have been working on my book, The Agency Games (working title) for the past several months and I turned it in (all 78,218 words) to the publishing house on May 11th!

Originally, I intended to send it to the Peer Reviewers on May 31st but I exceeded my own expectations and finished early! I also just received news that my rough manuscript is currently in the hands of two peer reviewers! Hopefully this means my book will be published and sold in late 2018 instead of early 2019, but it is too soon to tell. I have to wait a couple of weeks (possibly months) before I hear back from the Peer Reviewers, and I am kind of nervous, but I can’t wait to read their feedback! Hopefully they love it and also have some constructive advice on how to improve it.

As I get closer to publishing The Agency Games, I’m hoping to start a list of people who are interested in my book.

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Please note: putting your name below does not mean that you have to buy anything.

However, if you are interested in:

  • Information about Book Release Party dates and details
  • An online Book Release Party through WordPress
  • Early access to the The Agency Games
  • Discounted Prices or Signed Copies

Then, please leave a comment below!

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Again, if you leave a comment that does not mean that you have to buy the book and I promise not to spam anyone with emails. I am only trying to get a realistic idea of who is currently interested in a scholarly look at the beloved Hunger Games series!

Thank you!

And Happy Writing!