Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

If Only

I have met Amy one time - we were presenting at IATE, thanks to Fremd High School English teachers! And then I hear... she's writing a book. A BOOK! Well, isn't everybody?

That's the thing. The answer is NO. I am not. My husband is not. I know nine seventh graders who are writing a book, and I know teachers who've written professional books, but I don't know any other adult who is writing a fiction book.

I started watching her tweets more closely (she's on my "met face-to-face" list on Tweet Deck), and sure enough, it was going to be published in March! So I watched even more closely... surely I could get an ARC, yes? After all, I followed AJ Pine when she was AMY Pine! ;-)

YES! I received an electronic copy in my email last week, and immediately uploaded it to my iPad. I finished it today (during ISATs), and wrote a quick review of If Only on GoodReads here. Since this blog is about what I've learned, however, I'm going that route...

What I've learned about myself, writing, and reading...
     * From line one, I knew this book was NOT for my seventh graders!
     * This was the first book I've read on my iPad. I'm a paper person. However, I learned I was okay with bookmarking a page in the middle of a chapter... This does NOT happen when I read paper books.
     * I realized it's okay to read a romance every now and then! (Especially when Noah is in it!)
     * I have a feeling Amy went through the Scotland adventure herself - she knew so much of what she was writing. We start by writing what we know, right? She also threw in 80s and 90s references - I caught a few, and found I connected more with her when she threw in lines from mine and my husband's favorite movie (I'm not spoiling it - you'll have to read it yourself - even the lines on the last page hit home for me)!
     * I found myself looking at sentence structure, seeing vocabulary I loved, and recognizing character traits and patterns of speech more than I ever have. Was I wondering what I would write for a review? No. I was wondering how I could write like this. I was wondering how people come up with stories. I was wondering how authors come up with believable characters.
     * I stayed on the lookout for good quotes - we have a "literary graffiti" ceiling in room 239. Here's one of my favorites:  I'm suddenly aware that my lack of success in the male/female relationship department might have something to do with my preference for boys made from words. (p94)
     * I was reminded that I am illiterate when it comes to "Literature" (with a capital L). I don't know the books (or even movies) Jordan (the main character - and I'm sure Amy, too) is in love with. I have added the movie (I don't think I'd understand the book!) "A Room With a View" to my list, and even one of Shakespeare's works...... I've got some work ahead of me. I'm still working through one of the quotes at the beginning of one of the sections of If Only...
     * I was inspired. I would like to say I was inspired to write my own novel...... It's not that I don't consider myself a writer (sigh...I still really don't), but I have often wondered... What would I write about? I don't consider myself creative. I'm pretty good at copying what others do, but I'm not great at coming up with ideas on my own. And a story? HAH! I have never even written a short story. That doesn't mean I can't... It means I must try. If I expect my students to try, I need to try, as well. Ugh.
     * I wondered how many books or short stories Amy has written.... How many times has she "failed?" How many edits has she made? How many times has she felt her writing was "not good enough?" I wonder if she'll Skype with my writers' group some day this year???  (Go ahead, Amy - please answer in the comments!)
     * I realized once again that we bring our background to what we read. My husband and I are on page 31, and again on page 331... In fact, I had to read a few parts aloud to him...

And my last thought for tonight...
     * If you know the author, but the book is written well, you will forget that that person read it, and just be swept up in it...


Embrace is excited to be announcing the release of Amy Pine’s If Only, which readers are already raving about!  Plus you can pick up If Only on sale for just $.99 right now.

 On Sale: March 24, 2014

About If Only:

Sometimes it takes crossing an ocean to figure out where you belong.

It's been two years since twenty-year-old Jordan had a boyfriend—which means it's been forever since she, well, you know. But now she’s off to spend her junior year in Aberdeen, Scotland, the perfect place to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just enjoy Mr. Right Now.

Sexy, sweet (and possible player) Griffin may be her perfect, no-strings-attached match. He’s fun, gorgeous, and makes her laugh. So why can’t she stop thinking about Noah who, minutes after being trapped together outside the train’s loo, kisses Jordan like she’s never been kissed before? Never mind his impossible blue eyes, his weathered, annotated copy of The Great Gatsby (total English-major porn)…oh, and his girlfriend.

Jordan knows everything this year has an expiration date. Aberdeen is supposed to be about fun rather than waiting for life to happen. But E. M. Forster, Shakespeare, and mistletoe on Valentine’s Day make her reconsider what love is and how far she’s willing to go for the right guy.
Find If Only Online:

Find A.J. Online:

If Only Swag Pack -An “I love you from here to Scotland” print, Ahava pendent, A pack each of Much Ado about Nothing and A Room With a View confetti, Much Ado about Nothing travel mug and A Room With a View Blu-ray (a $25 Amazon gift card will be substituted if winner is outside the US).                      a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Joy. I don't know what to say. I am so touched by this review...and more than geeked that right now my book is next to Neil Gaiman on your Shelfari shelf. Ha! And I feel like I should answer all your questions about my writing life, but I'm not going to clog your comments. I will say this--Yes, I spent a year in Scotland. And yes, I ADORE E.M. Forster's A Room With A View. And absolutely I'd Skype with your writers group. But really, right now I just want to say thank you--for reading, for liking what you read, and for writing this lovely review. Makes my approaching release day a teeny, tiny bit less terrifying. Again, thank you.