I'm back at work and my students love to read!

This past fall I went back to teaching after being out of the field for eight years. It was a jolt to my daily routine, but I am enjoying it so much. If you don't like reading about people who love their job just close this now. There is something magical about teaching music to high school students. On a daily basis I get to work with students who...

1) Want to be in my class. (I love that no one "has" to take my class. They are all there by their own choice and that is a wonderful thing).

2) Are bright, motivated, unique and creative. (I seriously get to work with some of the nicest kids in the school!)

3) Work as part of a team. Every day we work together to shape and refine and create music. Every now and then it works so well that I get goosebumps.

4) Grow. Their musicianship and their personhood is so dynamic at this age.

5) Read. 


Yes, they read. I LOVE that they read. I have students who can hardly put down their books (yes paper books!) Being an avid YA reader as allowed me to have all kinds of great conversations with the kids. This semester alone I saw one student with Jennifer Brown's Hate List (one of my all time favorites), and another student with My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (another book I read and enjoyed). I am constantly asking them about what they are reading but have yet to hand them one of my books. Who knows, maybe I'll get brave soon.

I guess today's post is just about happiness. In celebration of finding a job that I love. About working with students who are not only interesting and musical but readers as well. 

The photo in this post is from homecoming week back in October. The theme was "Guess who?" This was the day I became famous ;)





Coming full circle - "We read to know we are not alone." ~ William Nicholson

One of my absolute favorite quotes is, "We read to know we are not alone." ~ William Nicholson.  How profound is that? What draws us to to stories? What pulls us in? What makes us curl up on the couch and immerse ourselves in someone else's world for hours on end. While I love books that take me to new and exciting places, when I can recognize even a tiny bit of myself inside of a character or a story, it fascinates me. That sliver of recognition makes me feel connected - less alone.

Writing is the most solitary art form I've ever taken part in. I used to play French horn in both a wind ensemble and symphony setting. I was pretty good at it; not professional symphony good, but strong enough that I won a music scholarship for college. I enjoyed it immensely. One of the most rewarding parts of playing, was watching the conductor's reactions. I knew instantly when I was on the right path, or if I screwed the whole thing up. The rise, the fall, or narrowing of a particular pair of eyebrows from across a room answered every question I had.

In writing...not so much. I work night after night in the quiet of my living room. Stopping to check on a little one, or take the dog out. There are no eyebrows telling me if what I wrote was soulful or a complete cliche. This is why the idea of publishing was so scary to me, because it was SO hard to know if what I'd written was any good. I'd told several people before I published OC Me, "If my novel resonates with even one person, if I find out that it made the difference in even one life, it will have been worth every minute." And I can now say, that it was worth every minute.

I've been so privileged to get reader feedback from not just one, but a handful of people. They've taken the time out of their busy lives to let me know how OC Me touched them. How they related to Amy and her story. Some shared their own anxiety stuggles. A couple even said that the book helped them understand their anxiety better - made them see their own thought patterns in a different way. And I am so honored; not only that they took the time to read the book, but that they took the time to share their personal experiences with me. I can now say with full honesty that when a reader steps out of their comfort zone and reaches out to an author, it means the absolute world. 

So thank you. I just want to say that for those that have written to me, your words have made the Nicholson quote come full circle.  As I read YOUR words, I can say, "I read to know I am not alone." And perhaps I should add, "I write to know I am not alone."

Valentine's Day Eve / 10 Reasons I Love to Read Y.A. Fiction!

My daughter informed me this evening that it was the night before Valentine's Day. She was wondering if we got to do anything special to celebrate. That struck me as funny at first, but after a bit of reflection it seemed appropriate to write about love on Valentine's Eve.  So here you go: 10 reasons why I love to read Y.A. Fiction.  Please feel free to add your own reasons in the comments below!

1) Optimism! Y.A. protagonists are full of hope. They have so much life ahead of them that they are (usually) looking forward instead of backward.

2) Time-Travel! Reading a good Y.A. book is like stepping into a time machine. It's so much fun to "go back" to high school without actually having to do homework, eat cafeteria food, and stress about your peers.

3) Hobbies! I love when a book immerses you in some one else's expertise! Reading is a great way to gain insight to different hobbies and sports (Raku pottery, film making, wizardry, martial arts, mountain biking,  poetry, etc.)

4) First person!  The bulk of Y.A. fiction is written in first person and something about that makes me feel more connected to the main character than second or third.

5) Love! I enjoy reading about people falling in love for the first time. For those of us who have journals (embarrassing should-be-burned journals) this is a much less painful way to remember those early feelings and the humorous ways we tried (and failed) to navigate love.

6) Movies! There are so many Y.A. books being made into block-buster movies right now! ( have to say for the upcoming season I'm looking forward to Divergent (written by Veronica Roth) and The Fault in our Stars (written by John Green).

7) Perspective. Perhaps this is something that only a 30-something (or older) would say as a positive of Y.A. fiction, but I like reading these books with the perspective that I now have. It is interesting to think how much our teen years affect who we are and what we do with our lives. I like reading other people's "coming of age" stories. Everybody has a story, and the more we get to know, the more open minded I believe we become.

8) Cheap Travel. How else can I spend six months in India or a semester in Korea? My travel accounts are non-existent these days so I love reading stories set in new-to-me locations.

9) BFFs! While I love my husband and kiddos something fierce, there is something to be said for remembering all the awesome friends that you used to be inseparable with. Reading these books reminds me of a handful of great girls and guys that I hung out with in my adolescence. I wish I could still have lunch with them every day!

10) Inspiration. Reading makes you a better writer, period. I try to read as much as I write and I'm so full of gratitude for all the writers in the world who put the stories in their heads onto paper. 

** Personal Bonus - I love that I can easily identify people I might have something in common with if I see on their Facebook or Goodreads Page that they are also a Y.A. fan :)

Happy Valentines Day to all you book lovers!