First Snow!!

It’s October 29, 2011, and we have snow. Pictures to come soon. Right now as I write this I look out my window and see it coming down hard. It feels like it should be December! I can’t even remember the last time we had snow this early!

The other day we got a dusting, but I won’t count that as first snow because it was mostly gone by the morning. This storm is said to accumulate quite a bit. In Litchfield County there’s rumor of 10+ inches. For me, 6+ and while I love snow, I’m not ready to shovel! I don’t even know where my winter jacket is!

However, winter is my favorite season. Actually, the time between fall and winter is. I love the cool, crisp air and the smell of approaching snow, but the leaves are still changing colors on the trees. The scent of fires going, and apple or pumpkin pies baking… mmm…

What’s your favorite time of year?

Like us on Facebook!

Since everyone and their cat seems to have a Facebook account now, I decided to make a fan page for Andy Squared. If you have an account, please like the page at: www.facebook.com/AndySquared

I’ll keep information updated there. And feel free to pass the link along! I love seeing the numbers grow, just like the visits on my site!

Right now it doesn’t have any pictures, but eventually I will have cover art to share. Until then there is a nice question mark! 🙂

NaNoWriMo 2011 Edition

I’m doing it again. After a year off, I decided to do NaNoWriMo again. (For those not in the know, that strange word stands for National Novel Writing Month.) I decided to challenge my students, and so far have about 21 signed up to participate. They have chosen word counts ranging from 3,000 to the full 50,000 like me. I have an idea so do they. We have plans! We have inspiration! We are… INSANE!

This will be my sixth year participating out of the last seven. I’ve only “won” twice by completing the word count goal of 50,000. My 2008 win was Andy Squared, the novel that is due out next year through Bold Strokes Books. I had completely rewritten the novel and finished it during that month. Of course that doesn’t take into account all the editing in the following years, but at least the story was finally fully out. No pun intended.

My novel this year will be centered on Aaron. He is disfigured from a dog attack when he was nine years old. Now sixteen, he decides he wants to overcome his fear of dogs by volunteering at an animal shelter. Like my other books, Aaron is gay, but his being gay is not at the center of the story. Yes there will likely be a small romance, but it is not the focus. The focus is overcoming his fear of dogs and living a full, carefree life like he had before the attack. I think too many YA LGBT books that are out there focus on the process of coming out and the reactions from peers and family. While that does happen with Andy in my first novel, I didn’t want a repeat in this new, as yet untitled work.

That aside, is anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? If you want to check it out, head over to www.nanowrimo.org for more information. I’ll be only participating on the Young Writer’s Program site: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org

Press Release from Bold Strokes Books

I’m very excited to announce that it is official! The press release from my publisher, Bold Strokes Books, came out on October 19th. Below is the official statement!


October 19, 2011 Press Release:  New Title from Jennifer Lavoie
 
Bold Strokes Books is pleased to announce the acquisition of Jennifer Lavoie’s new YA novel, Andy Squared, scheduled for release in 2012 from Bold Strokes Soliloquy Books.
 
Andy Squared – Coming in 2012
 
Seventeen-year-old twins, Andrew and Andrea Morris, have always been close. They share everything—from their friends to a room—and they both enjoy star positions on their high school’s soccer teams.  All’s right with the twins…or is it?
 
When new student Ryder Coltrane moves from Texas to their small New York town, he spins Andrew’s world upside down. All of Andrew’s past relationship troubles begin to make sense and his true feelings start to click into place after Ryder comes out to him. His friendship with Ryder turns secretively romantic, but secrets, they soon find out, are hard to keep. Once rumors start to fly, so-called friends turn on them, and the boys’ relationship turns into a bomb about to explode.  But Andrew never expected it would be his own twin, Andrea, holding a lighter to ignite it.
 
About the Author
 
Jennifer Lavoie lives in Connecticut in the same city she grew up in. While growing up, she always wanted to be a writer or a teacher and briefly debated a career in marine biology. The only problem with that was she’s deathly afraid of deep water. Starting during a holiday season as temporary help, she worked in a bookstore for six years and made it all the way up to assistant manager before she left to take a job teaching. Jennifer has her bachelor’s degree in secondary English education and found a job in her town teaching middle school students. Along with another teacher and a handful of students, Jennifer started the first Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. She is also active in other student clubs and enjoys pairing students with books that make them love to read.
 
Andy Squared is her first novel.
 
Visit Jennifer Lavoie’s Bio Page at Bold Strokes Books

Letterboxing Event!!

I swear, soon this page might end up letterboxing only if I keep it up!

Today I went to my first letterboxing event. It was a blast! I was really nervous at first because I knew no one except for my boxing buddy, who was called a noxer at the event and I think it fits him, hehe. But I met some amazing people who were really nice about exchanging stamps, telling stories, and showing off some of the AMAZING stamps they’ve found. Though the event was smaller than it would have been had it been the week before – the original date – it was perfect for getting my feet wet. If too many people had been there it would have been overwhelming. I met about ten other boxers, most of whom I have seen stamps of on the trails!

One of the couples, the two who put the group together, went boxing with us after the event. It was cool finding boxes with other people, and we had a lot of fun. I saw some interesting things I thought I would never see while hiking, but that’s neither hear nor there…

I have quite a few more stamps to log, and I still haven’t filled out my logbook yet – which is a mess! Too many stamps of different categories all over the place!! AHH!! – and I haven’t found all the exchanges I made.

Oh! And I got my first cootie and flea! The flea was handed to me, but the cootie was tossed into my bag. I think I had gotten up to use the bathroom because that was the only time I left my bag unattended. It’s pretty funny, though. Now I have to wait to pawn those off at another event. Can’t wait to do that!

Further Adventures in Letterboxing!

This weekend I went letterboxing again with my boxing buddy, and we ended up hiking EIGHT MILES. Eight! That’s insane! On Saturday we did five miles at Sleeping Giant State Park (again) and Sunday – today – took us on a three mile trail that was all flat and quite easy. But after an exhausting day just before this one, it was still hard!

Saturday we took the Orange Trail at the Giant, and it was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. The views were gorgeous, but it took us a long time to even find the first boxes. I found out after we got home that we had bypassed eight on the way to the first one. Whoops…

By the time we got all the boxes, we were on the other side of the park. So we had to go all the way back around to get to our car. We took the yellow trail this time because it was slightly easier according to the trail map, and we found even more amazing views like this one. There is a wide open area of rocks and in the distance you can see New Haven. It might not be clear in the picture, but it was spectacular. One of these days we’re going to hike up to that spot and have a picnic.

 

Sleeping Giant State Park - Yellow Trail

 

 

 

A Day Made Better

October 4th was a very special day for me and nearly 1,000 other teachers across the United States. Office Max and Adopt A Classroom teamed up to deliver supplies to teachers nominated and chosen. How they were nominated and chosen, I do not know, but I was honored to be one of the recipients.

Imagine my surprise when the principal of my school shows up at my door. My students were surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t say I was surprised by this. I expected just a quick visit and observation like usual. Nothing to get worked up over. And then the principal is followed by a group of other people. My student made a hilarious comment while I just stared, stunned, as one woman held a large bouquet of roses. And one man pushed in a beautiful new chair. (Yes, I got excited over a new chair.)

They asked me to take a seat in my new chair, presented me with a certificate, and then wheeled in a large cart with three enormous boxes on it. Boxes with $1000 worth of supplies.

In those boxes were supplies for students: pencils, pens, paper, crayons, markers, highlighters, rulers, notebooks – the list goes on. Another box was filled with plain white paper. The third box held teacher supplies like chalk, specialty pens and pencils, erasers, storage units, and… a printer for my classroom.

My students can now print material they need from my teacher computer rather than having to wait to use the library or print something for me to get for them from the copy room later.

I will admit that I cried, and I told my students that it was the only time they would see me cry. They laughed. We all laughed. And we all thanked everyone that came and made my day… well… better.

A Day Made Better is a program that works to “erase teacher funded classrooms.” It is very true that many teachers put hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into their classroom every year. This gift that was given to me will go a long way to help my students. I can make sure all of my students have the materials they need that they might not be able to afford.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all the people at Office Max and Adopt A Classroom, as well as all the donors who made it possible. And finally, to the person who nominated me. I am truly honored and blessed.

 


For more information, please check out A Day Made Better. If you would like to donate to a specific classroom, check out this link where you can send a box to a teacher you know. You can choose from three different sizes.

It might not seem like much to you, but trust me. That box will light up a teacher’s day.

Review: Dark Life by Kat Falls

I love dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction for teens, and Dark Life by Kat Falls falls into that category. I have it for my students to read in my classroom, but I hadn’t read it until this weekend. It was one of this “oh, it’s there, I’ll get to it eventually” books. Like so many books, I really wish I hadn’t waited.

The book is told from the perspective of Ty, a boy living undersea with his parents after the Rising, a catastrophic event that destroyed a lot of land, resulting in people being crammed into whatever land is left. The only place where people can live with their own land is, well, on the bottom of the ocean floor.

Ty loves living there, and after finding an abandoned sub, he runs into Gemma, and the two are off on a dangerous adventure that will change not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone around them.

I loved the characters and the plot in this book. There were so many twists and turns that I was thrown for a loop every time it changed! That rarely happens for me, so kudos to the author! The cover of the book is appealing visually as well, because the title looks like Mother of Pearl at a certain angle, possibly mimicking the “shine” the characters have from eating bioluminescent fish.

But back to the characters. Ty loves living undersea and will do just about anything to stay there, including hiding who he is. He fears going Topside, and readers do find out why later on. When the Seablite Gang appears, there are so many questions unanswered. Quite a few of them are by the end of the book, but before those are solved, even more questions popped up. Are people who they really say they are? Who is the mysterious Akai that scientists supposedly studied? Who is the doctor who wrote the report? How much land around the world is left, and are there really no other undersea territories?

While I was reading this book, I was reminded very much of Ganymede by Robert Heinlein. The idea of homesteading in an area that was once deemed unfit for human life fascinates me, and in that regard the books are similar. It is also about coming of age in such a landscape, though in Dark Life the homestead is underwater, and in Ganymede, the homestead is on a moon of Jupiter.

The books is published by Scholastic and has a sequel, Rip Tide, out now. I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

Letterboxing

Letterboxing is a relatively new hobby for me, but man is it fun! I really enjoy them. Prior to this weekend, all of my letterboxing adventures were under a mile and were considered “drive-bys” on the website. This weekend, however, I went with one of my letterboxing buddies on a few hikes at Sleeping Giant State Park.

The first box I wanted to get was freshly planted and I wanted to be the first finder. It told us to take the blue trail, so we did. We got there at five, paid to park, and took off.

Only to find after the fact that the blue trail is the hardest, and longest of the trails! I’m talking vertical climbs up and down in some places! INSANE! We had to stop and rest a LOT and before we got to the second box of the three box series… we had to turn around and go back. One look at the vertical face of one wall and we said forget it. (It also didn’t help that the directions said turn around and go up the backside and we decided to forge on because we were so close to the other number.)

The next day we returned and got eleven more boxes on a hike that went up a gentle slope, but round trip was over three miles. It was exhausting at first, but I ended up feeling pretty good! The hikes are a great way to exercise, and having everything in a backpack instead of a handbag was a great idea. It was perfect for storing our water and snacks, and trust me, we needed it.

For more information on letterboxing, check out this website: http://www.atlasquest.com/