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Miss F Brings the Hotness June 30, 2015

Filed under: End of Year Rap,students,teaching — nataliefrag @ 5:16 pm
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Hey guys, I know you’ve been bugging me to upload the video (you know who you are), and I wanted you to know that I finally figured it out. So without further ado, I give you my End of Year rap. You’re welcome. 🙂

Miss F

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzj4Fz5ePBQUTklEOTlqc0kzVms/view?usp=sharing

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Age of Miracles book review June 22, 2015

Filed under: Book review,students — nataliefrag @ 4:46 am

You guys, I remembered the name!! Remember in class when I was going on and on about this awesome book about the slowing of the earth’s rotation,  but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name. I think I might have called it Tilt (which, funnily enough, is a different book I’ve read, but it’s about the Leaning Tower of Pisa). Anyway, it’s called The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, and it’s beautiful. I just reread it yesterday and the whole story is just gorgeous. I wanna talk themes ok, so when you read it (and you will because you always follow my advice, right? Nah didn’t think so.) If you read it, I want to talk about the motif of time and the question of what you would do with extra time. We’re always saying there’s not enough hours in the day and as a teacher I hear that tired excuse ALOT, but what would you or could you do with a few extra minutes or hours? The story centers on a young girl named Julia who wakes one morning that should have been like every other idyllic California morning, only to find that life has drastically changed and nothing will ever be the same. Ooohhh, sounds intriguing doesn’t it? Talk amongst yourselves.

😊

 

Starting Anew June 4, 2015

Filed under: New ideas,students,teaching — nataliefrag @ 4:24 pm
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Hello again. It’s been a long time. When I first started this blog, it was with the high hopes that I would maintain it as a published author. Or at the very least, I would hire someone to do it for me. But a certain principal called me back to the world of teaching and alas, my social platform fell to the wayside. I figured I would come back to it eventually, but that never really happened.
Until this week.
You see, this year was a game changer. I was fortunate enough to teach a group of students who made me love teaching again. I looked forward to every day and I came to love them far beyond what I had expected. And I realized as our year was drawing to a close that I wasn’t ready for it to end. I wanted one more class, one more hour, one more minute. Even though I was moving to a new school that I was over the moon about, I couldn’t bear the thought of never speaking to these kids again. Which is when I remembered the blog.
So the format, or purpose, of the blog is going to change ever so slightly. It’s still going to describe my journey as a writer, but it’s also going to be a place where we can talk about stuff that’s going on in the world. Books we’ve read, movies we’ve seen, stories we’ve heard.
Having said that, there are some things you need to remember, kiddos.
1. Opinions are like belly buttons: Everybody has one. And just because yours is an innie and theirs is an outie doesn’t make one better than the other. Be respectful.
2. This blog can be accessed by virtually ANYONE. So don’t throw a lot of personal info out there.
3. I adore you.

Write me often. Please.

Until we meet again….

 

Whoosh! May 23, 2012

Filed under: New ideas — nataliefrag @ 8:01 pm
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Hear that? That’s me breathing a sigh of relief. I have finally (finally I tell you!) begun writing my second novel. So why am I so excited? For anyone who has ever attempted to write a book, you know how excruciating the process is. The constant second guessing, sleepless nights, countless rewrites and even more edits. And let’s not forget that bastard writer’s block who, like some awful relative that nobody ever wants to come to the party but somehow always manages to find an invitation, insists on checking up on you at the most inopportune times, just to keep you on your toes.

Yeah, I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I’m just thrilled that I’ve finally settled on an idea because, frankly, I was getting really tired of being the idea girl. I had hundreds of them, filling almost a full notebook, but I couldn’t decide on anything. I felt no passion for any of them. Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in each and every one, some of which I gleaned from the newspaper, others from the dark recesses of my imagination. But the fire wasn’t there. You literary folk know what I’m talking about. That excitement that creates the itch in your finger, the butterflies in your belly when you just know that this is a great story. It’s almost romantic.

So I gotta run for now because me and HOTEL NEUF? We’re going on our first date. 🙂

 

Au Revoir!

 

Natalie

 

Don’t make me get crazy up in here, Justin Bieber. May 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — nataliefrag @ 8:31 pm
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My dad is a veritable treasure trove of funny sayings, most of them having to do with his ass.

“This chaffs my ass.” “Blow it out your ass.” “Stick it in your ass.” “That burns my ass.” And the classic “Kiss my ass.”

But one of my favorites has always been “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody’s got one.”

I’m going to shy away from my literary talk for a sec, but I promise I will have something important to say about it. At some point.

But for now….(cue serious music).

I want to talk about Justin Bieber. More specifically, about why Justin Bieber thought it was appropriate to go to Floyd Mayweather’s fight this weekend and openly champion him. For those of you who aren’t aware or don’t live in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather is a professional boxer who also happens to be a convicted domestic violence criminal. The trial was a joke, the judge postponed his jail time “to help the community” and of course he sings the song of poverty and bad parenting as an excuse for his behavior.

Surprisingly, he’s not the subject of this post.

Justin Bieber, shame on you. First, let me just put it out there that I think this kid is phenomenally talented and he goes above and beyond his philanthropic obligations. But then, sometimes, just every so often, he says something ignorant that magnifies just how young he really is.

For instance, when he says that Mayweather is just “misunderstood.” Really, Justin? Seems like threatening to kill someone and punching them in the head is pretty cut and dried to me. Ask the girlfriend if she thinks she “misunderstood” the point that Mayweather was trying to make.

When your target demographic are little girls, who’s ages can range from 2 to 22 and higher, don’t you think it sends the wrong message to them when you are partying with a man who hits women? Kids see things as black and white, there is no gray area. Either you think it’s okay to hit girls or you don’t. I’d be willing to bet even money that you don’t agree with violence against women, but your actions speak louder than words, and when everyone watches your every move, what do you think yours are saying? What if that was your mom? His kids sat there and watched their dad beat on their mother. Try and imagine that and what that must have been like. How terrifying it must have been.

Celebrity justice drives me bananas and it’s instances like this that perpetuate that feeling, with ignorant children like Bieber and that poor nincompoop Lindsay Lohan, thinking that what they say and do doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t mold opinions. Guess again.

Here’s a conversation I had with my daughter this morning as I read the paper:

S: Is that that fighter man who hit his girlfriend?

Me: Mmm-hmm.

S: What’s Justin doing there?

Me: They’re friends.

S: Really??! Why would he be friends with that man?

Me: I don’t know, sweetie. I think he admires how hard he trains to be a boxer.

S: But he hits girls.

Me: *sigh* Yeah I know, but…

S: But what? That’s not okay.

Me: No, it’s not okay.

S: *shrugs* I guess that doesn’t bother him.

 

See what I mean.

 

Until we meet again.

xo

Natalie

 

What to do, what to do April 30, 2012

Filed under: Tips — nataliefrag @ 8:38 pm
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So I’m sitting at brunch on a beautiful Sunday morning with a very good friend of mine,  a wonderful gal who has declared herself crazy and decided to write a book. Not just “a” book, mind you, but a five-part series in the YA genre. Which I think is magnificent, but I understand that even just saying out loud “I want to write a book” can be terrifying, scary, laughable…take your pick of frightening adjectives. Ha ha, see what I did there? You know with the frightening…and the…ha…oh never mind. Moving on!

Needless to say, we had a lengthy discussion about everything that goes into tackling a manuscript from beginning to end and I gotta tell ya. I’m a little exhausted. Between the social media platform, edits, writing group meetings, and more edits, it seems like an endless list of things to do, things you might not have the foggiest idea how to do, and this is all before you’ve even gotten an agent or publisher, and after you’ve spent months, if not years, writing the bloody thing!

Welcome to my world.

This is a typical day for me:

1. After cleaning the house and getting both toddlers down for a nap by 12:00 p.m. (what, what!) I sit in front of my computer and try to decide what I need to tackle first. I know that I have to get those corrections on my novel to my editor so she can start perfecting it, by Lord Almighty, it is slow going. I am knee-deep in books by both Donald Maass and Gloria Kempton, so every time I think I’ve finished a section and can finally move on, I read some new piece of information and decide that I have to go back and do that too. It’s so much fun, I can’t even tell you, but I am learning a lot, so it’s worth it.

2. Even though I know I’m supposed to be editing, I prefer to be Tweeting, and checking email, and Facebook, and Google+, etc….I can’t help but feel pressured to build some semblance of a social media empire/platform, but there is so much information out there that I feel as if I will never be able to keep up with it all, much less reTweet it all and post links. Ah, but here is a welcome piece of sunshine, remember the agent who took my literary innocence? She gave me some wonderful words of encouragement and now here I sit with you. Just Dory through it, guys.

3. I know that I have to finish my website but every time I look at it, it makes me cry. I’m not visual by any means and I have no concept of marketing color schemes or what’s most appealing to readers. I refuse to sprinkle it with star dust just because I write romance, but I am at a loss. I will probably click out of it and eat a piece of chocolate instead.

4. I really just want to hang out on Emma Cunningham’s website and maybe read a Query Dice or two on Lauren Ruth’s Tales from the Slushpile, but those damn edits are hanging over my head and I also have to check out YouTube because Emma just posted something about why author’s should post a video to promote their book. Le sigh. And while I agree with everything she says (it makes perfect sense), I can’t help but wonder, is it really worth it? You’ll never see me shirk a responsibility or turn down an opportunity to wax poetic about my novel, but now YouTube? I would love comments on this!

So what have we learned today, kids?

If you are just starting out as a writer, please do yourself a favor, and check out the Donald Maas book “How to Write the Breakout Novel” and Gloria Kempton’s “Writing Dialogue”. You will save yourself sooo much time and you also won’t embarrass yourself by submitting clunky writing.

Twitter, Facebook,Google+, etc…are not as important as getting that book done. And when I say done, I mean finished, finito, done. Yes, they have lots of information and helpful articles, but if you are sacrificing your story so that you can Tweet about Kanye and Kim, you are doing yourself a disservice. So put your head down and power through. That includes edits. Then build your empire/platform/whatever.

Join a writers group. It’s filled with people who have been doing this a long time, and have a wealth of knowledge to bestow upon you, which you should happily soak up like a sponge.

These are all just my opinions (obviously), but this is what has been working for me lately. I realize I’ve kinda been all over the place today, but hopefully you can glean something useful from it. Oh, and by the way, the article on YouTube and authors is http://emmacunningham.ca/5-reasons-authors-need-a-youtube-channel/

Alla Prossima!

Natalie

 

My Very First Rejection Letter April 26, 2012

Filed under: rejection — nataliefrag @ 6:05 pm

Be still my heart, it’s happened. In my morning email (which I have been watching like a hawk for the last five days), I received my very first rejection letter from a literary agency. But don’t cry for me, Argentina. That’s what this blog is set up for, to showcase the highs and (depressing) lows of trying to become a published author and, more importantly, a better writer. Because that’s what I’m all about. I just want to be better, and while the letter I received was no surprise, nothing smarts quite like that first time someone tells you “thanks, but not thanks”. So I’ve posted the notes from the letter below, in the hopes that you fellow fledglings will read it and, hopefully, take something useful away from it. I am a staunch believer that everything happens for a reason and let’s be honest, I wasn’t exactly thinking I was going to get snatched up right away, like I was God’s gift to the publishing world. (Although one can dream). So enjoy, darlings. Read the notes, grow from them, learn from them, and so on and so forth. It’s all good. I’ll be knee deep in fries and chicken wings if you need me.

P.S. The agent who sent this was probably one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She went out of her way to send me specific notes about how I could be a better writer which tells me that she actually read the sample pages and gave real thought to them. You can’t ask for more than that.

Now, without further ado, let’s bring the pain!

I liked your sample pages very much, and I have no doubt that the story will unfold in a satisfactory way, but, for me, the craft wasn’t quite there yet. For starters, keep an eye on your dialogue:

(1) When you have two people talking, you don’t need to tag every line of dialogue (he said, she said, he asked, she replied, etc.).
(2) Limit the tags, when they’re needed, to said, asked, and replied. These are all a seasoned novelist needs for 90% of his/her dialogue. You’ve got muttered, mumbled, grumbled, growled, groaned, and groused on the first few pages alone! These fancy tags are a sure sign of a beginning writer.
(3) Avoid the urge to pair tags with modifiers (he said sarcastically; she replied, cheerful as always; she said diplomatically). If the dialogue itself is written well, we’ll be able to hear the sarcasm in his words without you, the writer, having to tell us which character is speaking and that he’s said something in a sarcastic manner.
(4) Avoid the urge to pair every speech tag with an action or piece of choreography (he said, picking up the remote; Harrison pouted, slouching down even more; she said diplomatically, walking down the hall). This is clunky and taxes your readers’ attention, as we’re constantly shifting gears between listening to your characters talk and imagining them moving around or doing something. I’m not suggesting you never add choreography to your dialogue, but do it sparingly. Some of the best published dialogue out there is just two (or more) characters talking without the constant interruption of the writer.

Hope that helps! Check out the books WRITE GREAT FICTION: DIALOGUE from Writer’s Digest (can’t remember the author right off the bat) and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass. Both have great suggestions for writing and revising passages dialogue.
She was great and I am fine. See you on the flip side.
Natalie