It's Friday and I'm not feeling funny.

First of all, I'm a teacher in Wisconsin, so it's been a stressful week.  Our governor is attacking our unions.  (Not just for teachers, but for all public workers.)  With the future of our public schools uncertain, this week has been a little bit off for me.  Mostly, I should stay off facebook because when people who don't fully understand the issues attack the teachers by criticizing us, it's hurtful.  I'm sure I'm taking the entire thing too personally, but for the past three days my chest has had a tight, painful feeling inside it.

Second, I'm reading Mockingjay.  Each book makes me feel a little bit more depressed.  Not depressed enough to stop reading, but I don't think the book is helping my outlook on my current situation.  In fact, I woke up at 3:30 this morning unable to sleep anymore with a great dystopian in the works.  So even when I'm out of a job because our public schools have gone down the tubes, at least I'll have a great bestseller on my hands.

With that being said, I have a question for you.  About Solstice.  Currently, it's genre is unstable.  Can it be realistic/fantasy?  Nevermind that.  I've decided I want it to be pre-dystopian.  IS THAT A GENRE?  I thought about this before reading the Hunger Games and before my state's political affairs depressed me.  Although, having the National Guard on call for little ol' us (the teachers) made me add that aspect into my novel.  See how this whole mess is helping my writing?!?  Good can come out of disaster, I tell you!

Okay, so my questions to you today are:  (No, I can never just let you read without nagging you to participate...I need help here-always!)
1-Can I list Solstice as a pre-dystopian?  (The events in the book will lead to a future dystopian...making a sequel or third book an actual dystopian....am I nuts thinking this way?)
2-What real-life events sparked a novel idea for you? 
3-Does writing serve as an emotional outlet for you?


  1. I'm a teacher too, and former Teamster - so basically I've been represented by unions my whole working life, and I have to say, the teachers' union in MY state really doesn't do us any favors. They're very antagonistic and petty towards "administration" and spent most of their time and efforts protecting incompetant teachers and retiring ones. When I was a Teamster, if I screwed up at work and got written up, I was more afraid of the union rep than I was of my boss. The Teamsters were like, you (the employee) represent US, and not the other way around. You screwing up makes US look bad, and if you keep it up, you're out of here. The teachers' union, on the other hand, is like, "So, you called in sick to work, but went see "Live with Regis..." instead and got shown smiling and waving on live TV, and they want to dock you a day's pay? How dare they! Let's file a grievance...

    Our union once advised us not to keep tissues and band-aids in our rooms for the kids, since they were "health related" and should be taken care of by the nurse. Then they wonder why the public hates us

    Sorry to add to your stress, but thought your misery might like some company. Plus I gotta outcomment Hart!

  2. I saw on the news last night the problems you guys are going through (I live in Canada, but my husband was watching US news). Scary!

    Writing does help me with my emotions. I just channel them into whatever I'm working on at the time.

    Part of the book I'm querying (a very small part) was inspired by a local news story from two years ago.

  3. I think there's gotta be an actual genre that equals pre-dystopian - maybe apocalyptic? Or just call it urban fantasy.

    My manuscript was absolutely inspired by true events - the Rwandan genocide back in 1994.

    Yes, writing can be very cathartic for me.

    I'm also a teacher so I commiserate. Good luck!

  4. Disclaimer: I (erica) do not work for the public schools. I work for a non-profit agency that receives federal grants to operate a Head Start program. That said, we're on the federal budget right now as losing 22.4% of our budget - 1 out of every 5 kids could lose their program and 1 out of every 5 workers could lose their jobs. It's scary out there.

    I think most sane people know that every organization can make cuts. Schools are definitely not the exception. The worry in WI is more about taking away the collective bargaining - or negotiating - rights of teachers. The pay (or job security) is not what brings teachers to school every day, but rather the benefits (insurance, retirement, etc.).

    Do you think there's one high school senior out there right now thinking about becoming a teacher in Wisconsin?? I find it very improbable. I'd also be interested to know how many college kids suddenly are changing their majors to get OUT of the school of education. And that's the scariest part about this whole thing - who's going to teach? This will not bring quality (or test scores, if you want to think of it that way) up.

  5. So sorry about the Wisconsin governor's actions, and results. Talk about stress!

    My experience is that personal trauma is hugely formative for a writer. Deep personal loss was what led me to write in the first place. Not about my loss, but somehow those feelings get worked out in the writing, and infuse it with passion. So I say go for it! Pour your heart into your dystopian novel. As to your genre question, I don't know the 'correct' answer, but my immediate reaction was Absolutely! I love the idea of a trilogy that starts out pre-dystopian. I think it would let you focus on the characters and readers would bond with them, so when you write the dystopian followup the impact will be far greater.

  6. Omg, I have to look up to see what's happening to you guys! I must be out of the loop! So sorry you are feeling down, it really sucks when something like that happens. Teachers deserve SO much more than they get. They are shaping our children's mind's for peets sake! Why does an actor get a million dollars for crying on camera 20 times, but a teacher can barely make it on what she makes? There is definitely something wrong with this picture. I hope it all gets settle for you and the teachers, Christy.

    As far as your book, I think someone else called it Apocalyptic and that kinda sounds right. The publishers would probably classify it as dystopian though. If only just to sell more, you know?

  7. First of all, new follower/crusader here!

    Second, I think every state should have teachers unions. I wish our state did. I am not a teacher, but I have the highest regard for their work and in our county, a starting teacher gets paid less than 30k a year. Criminal!

    Third, Mockingjay depressed me, too. So much violence!

    Fourth, I think you have an awesome hook with a pre-dystopian theme! Precisely because I've never heard of it before, but it's related to dystopian, so people will "Get it" Would love to hear more!

  8. Hiya, buddy crusader! I'm making the rounds today and checking out your blog.

    You know what? After I read Catching Fire, I fizzled out--esp when I heard Mockingjay was even darker and had a disappointing (for some) ending. So I didn't even bother to read Mockingjay! I enjoyed The Hunger Games the most.

    Pre-dystopian? LOL Not sure. I have a WiP I just finished and my critique partners said it's not "dark" enough to be dystopian. So I'll probably market it as post-apocalyptic. Still not sure that quite fits. Editors and agents do like to have a novel pegged, though, for marketing purposes...

    Nice to meet you, and Happy Friday! :)

    Artzicarol Ramblings

  9. I saw that one of the high schools in Madison had 800 students walk out--made me a little teary for the solidarity. Teachers do so much and I HATE when the politics try to entangle them. SO SORRY you are dealing with all the stress!

    As for your book--I think it actually sounds like a FABULOUS premise and I would totally read it--I have an idea myself that isn't exactly events leading up, or far enough in the future to be distopian, but sort of a 'survival during' type thing (I refer to it as my Armegeddon book)... The one I am playing with would fall about where "Tomorrow When the War Began"--an Australian series by John Marsden which I strongly recommend. Wiki classifies it as Young Adult Action/Adventure--and if you have either natural disaster or political takeover/revolution stuff, I think you'd be safe with that classification.

  10. I too need to look up what is going on with you guys! I'm so sorry that it's so hard on you though. BUT at least you're getting some good writing out of it? I mean, that's a bright spot in a dark situation. But yea, definitely really sorry to hear you're so down.

  11. I hear ya, honey. Chris Christie, the governor of NJ, is doing the same darn thing to teachers here, and we are feeling it every day in both budget-slashing and spiteful rhetoric. The hateful things he says about us are insane and the constant slamming of our profession in a state full of top-ranked schools is mind boggling at best. I wish I had answers but you are not alone.

    As for the Hunger Games trilogy, yes, I agree that they get more depressing as they go on, but I LOVED them. They inspired a story idea in me, too, but I am too tied up in my current WiP to really focus on it. I wrote some things down for later.

    *Hugs* to you.

  12. Oh, Christy,

    I am sooo sorry. I had no idea. I hadn't heard. In Chicago everything is focused on the election and all the crime and discord in this city.

    These politicians need to GET A GRIP! Start cutting their over inflated salaries instead of the hard working middle class. It's sad that they always cut eduction when it's so important.

    And Erica, you have a very valid point about the youth of today. They won't go into teaching if there is no future for them in it.

    Try and stay calm Christy... it sounds like your on the verge of an anxiety attack or worse a panic attack.

    Focus on your family and writing. That will get you through this horrific time.

    Yes, writing is a FANTASTIC way to ease tension.

    I am here for you if you need to vent.


  13. mike-interesting. i think i was probably a bit overdramatic on friday. but i am nervous about what changes will come if the governor has his way.
    stina-i think im going to start watching the news more and taking notes.
    vicki-you're probably right on the urban fantasy. erica and i went around and around one night on the genre of the book. wow! your ms must be emotional to write! thanks for wishing me luck!
    linda-thanks! i'll see where it goes. i like the idea of it, too!
    abby-I'm feeling better now. :0) I love everyone's suggestions for genre. I needed
    the help!
    margo-welcome! thanks!
    carol-i didn't think mockingjay was too much darker. the ending wasn't disappointing in how the plot ended, it just felt rushed. i think that's what people were disappointed with. i haven't read enough dystopians yet. my next series will be Gone by Michael Grant. I'll have to see how "dark" those are and compare.
    hart-yeah, everyone has been really standing strong on this issue. i heard some people from around madison started ordering pizzas to have them delivered to the public workers gathered there. how sweet is that? i don't think mine is quite far enough inthe future either. and,like erica pointed out...aren't all our contemporary books really pre-dystopian? hehe. OOH! i'll have to add that series to my future reads list.
    colene-thanks. i'm feeling much better. i finished mockingjay and my mood lifted almost immediately!
    lindsey-the morning after i read your comment, i saw your gov on the news. thanks!
    michael-as always you're so sweet. im doing much better. i think i just needed a good cry to make my chest feel better. which i got when i finished mockingjay. happens every time i finish a book/series i love. *sigh*


  14. First: I think teachers are wonderful people who aren't paid nearly enough for the crap they have to put up with. And I am fond of telling people so when they moan about how their child's teacher put their precious angel in timeout blah blah blah.

    1. I don't think I'm qualified to answer this question.
    2. IDK about novels, but there is not a lot in my life that I don't want to write down.
    3. Absolutely.


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