“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain

Friday, December 31, 2010

One more for 2010

I'm usually not sad to see a year go. I don't think I've ever had a really good one. Maybe I'm too picky and set my expectations too high.

Lets' see, 2010 bright spots:

I survived the 09/10 school year. Holy cats. I saw the gang/fighter girl from LA that we got in April in the office-in trouble and a bunch of names from last year in our team from last year show up on the Saturday school list. Make me feel better that my partner and I aren't the only ones who couldn't do anything with these lost children in a classroom setting.

Keith celebrated his second year at Wal-Mart.

I'm still in remission.

I finished my first novel except for some revisions.

Dull/dim/dark spots:

Keith totaled the car in Feb. But we did buy 96 olds cash so now we have no car payments so that's okay

Our AC unit died and took the heat pump with it so now it's really cold in the house. In Sept. it was really hot but we lived in the back of the house with window units.

I was told I really stink as a teacher (not in those words, or course) and if I don't get better I'm out. More on that later.

Another health problem--BLOOD CLOTS dun dun duhhhnnnnn

A biggie-I messed up my contract when I signed it in '09 and only got 23 pays and missed July's mortgage and got more behind trying to live with their repayment plan...

And I had to take a pay cut (furlough days they call it). We'll see what kind of pay cut I end up with at the end of this year...

Next time--hopes and dreams for 2011

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh Crap

So, I suck as a teacher. In like the worst state in the union for education, I could very well be fired from my teaching job. Specifically, not have my contract renewed. Or I could resign. I'm not sure either would qualify me for unemployment benefits. Unless, I fully cooperate with the help I am to receive and fail anyway. Which is a distinct possibility.

I completely concur with my evaluation. And I do believe the administrator is being generous by only calling out two areas where I need help. It could easily be more.

I'm a smart woman. The kids like me. But I have trouble managing 30+ well. There are things the district requires in lessons and to be evident when they come in for walk throughs like formative assessments and higher level thinking (lots of kids have a hard time thinking--not because they are stupid but because they haven't been trained like that) and maybe because developmentally, they're not there yet. I don't know how to manage all that and lots of times I just feel like my brain is not set up to handle it. There's this gap between what I should be able to do and being able to do it. Maybe I don't quite understand what-although I think it makes sense or how to get planned and out to the kids. I don't know. Maybe I don't know what I don't know or don't understand. Maybe it's just the gap that's always existed between me and pragmatism. Or maybe it's a gap in my understanding or what they want me to do to begin with.

I don't want to sound like I'm bitching. I'm just terribly frustrated and not only with work. We're working on getting or mortgage remodified so we don't go into foreclosure, although that is appealing in some ways. How else are we going to be free of this house that is worth about half of what we are paying for it? It needs a new AC/heat unit-$5000. Our credit sucks. We drive one old car. We have medical bills out the wazoo--not that much compared to others, but they're hard to pay when you're trying to keep you electricity on.

Sometimes I wonder what is the point? We work--yes, we are fortunate we both have jobs--but it seems like we are further behind than ever. I really have no hope of ever catching up, breaking even. God forbid we should ever get ahead a little.

And when it comes down to it, I love the kids but I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a teacher. This is my fifth year and I don't feel much better as a professional than I did on day 1. But the practical side of me says it's the only thing I have training to do (all be it suckily). The other side says this could be the way out, it might be time to pursue something creative--like writing! But the other side says we'll be homeless in no time.

Would it be the end of the world if I lost my job? No, not the world. Just the end of my health insurance that pays for my cancer treatment. It might be a way to test if I'm in remission for good, right?

I want to be able to trust God in all this, but honestly, it's hard. Things have been getting harder for us the past few years, physically and otherwise and we've been trying to remain faithful. Does God have something better down the line on this side of heaven? Does he even care? Can't he cut us a break?

There are so many thoughts and feelings churning around inside me now. Maybe I'll get them straightened out as I write about them.

If anyone reads this and wants to comment, you can message me on facebook. But please, no trite "God had a plan" stuff. I'm sick of that. I need insight, suggestions, success stories, places to look for resources. In case the job doesn't work out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Yes, National Novel Writing Month. If you ever thought you wanted to write a book, this is for you. Thirty days of literary abandon. 50,000 words in 30 days. Turn off you inner editor. Writeordie.

This is my third year. In 2008, I wrote my first novel, slightly over 50,000 words titled A Box of Rain, named after one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. I joined a critique group a few months later and didn't get laughed out after my first submission. It was fun to write and edit. I created an alternate ending that morphed into it's own book, Another Place on the Planet. I just finished it--for the second time although it still needs much editing and revising. I hope to submit it for publication by, lets say, the end of 2011. On top of that, I have about 1000 pages and scores of scenes which will hopefully find their ways into sequels. I love the characters, I really do.

in 2009, My Nano Novel was The C Word Can Make You Cry. I don't really like that title anymore, but... I cheated a little on it. Last year on Nov. 29, I had about 400 words left to write and I was so tired and having a bit of trouble with the end so I said, "I'll finish tomorrow. What can possibly keep me from it?" and went to bed. A lesson in hubris. I left work early the next day with severe abdominal pain and midnight approached on that Nov. 30, I thought, "Oh, I didn't finish. Oh, I feel too crappy to write, no biggie if I don't finish and win." But it was. So, I borrowed a few pages from Another Place--it was all written that month--and copied and pasted and had my 50,000 words. And won. And went to the hospital.

This year my novel is called Subculture. It's actually an idea I got for Another Place, a movie the MCs were making. It's going a little slow. I'm only at 31,000 and should be at like 40,000. Yikes! But five days off is upon me. I can only write any kind of volume with Write or Die, a website where you select a word amount and a time and if you stop typing the screen turns red and annoying sounds go off. Otherwise, I write, but take lots of time to think or pluck my eyebrows or go on Facebook or clean off my key board with an artist's paintbrush. I have ideas. Have several choices for the ending. Guess I'll just choose one. Can always change it.

So, novel writing wasn't enough and in April, I did ScriptFrenzy, by the same fine folks that bring you NaNoWriMo, the Office of Letters and Light. 100 pages of sreenplay in 30 days. I did much reading about screenwriting, joined a website and started following blogs by Hollywood script readers. I figure selling a spec screenplay has the odds of winning the lottery without buying a ticket and getting struck by lightening on the same day, but with a whole lot of work going in before hand. If nothing else, I'm learning to appreciate the art of film more, like playing an instrument helps you appreciate music. Plus, I save time and money avoiding movies I know I'll hate. Novel writing and screenwriting are two different forms and while certain understandings apply to each, it's important to not get the two mixed up while writing, especially the screenplay.

My April script was based on the third book (drafted but unwritten) of Another Place. I finished in plenty of time and started to edit it, where it remains until this day. I go back to it and diddle around from time to time. I also started one based on The C Word.

So, two years ago, I began writing and haven't stopped. I gave up watching TV and crafting because I do that when i watch TV. One bad thing is I don't read as much, except books about writing. It wasn't hard to give up cooking and cleaning because I never did much of those things. If only I could give up my day job...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Remission Confirmed

The last time I went to the oncologist almost a month ago, I was depressed for a few reasons, not just the leukemia i have. Money was a big thing, my husband another and the frustrations of living with a head injured man. The PA was very sympathetic, listened to my teary whining, telling me things I already knew, that my disease is chronic and mostly just a pain in the butt.

The tests from last time said what they said the other time, that there is no detectable leukemia in my blood. I had a good, quick response to the outrageously priced medication and may even be able to come off it permanently in the future. If only!

So, I do feel lucky in that way a cancer survivor can feel lucky. It's my second kind of cancer and with neither one did I need chemo or radiation or any kind of nasty treatment. I'm about as functional as I've ever been which has always varied, it seems to me. I don't need to go back to the onc. until April--six months.

I read this week that Jill Clayburgh, the actress from the 70s died recently from chronic leukemia. The article didn't specify which one, but it was like a slap in the face, or at least a dead leg. You know, when someone bumps the back of your knee with theirs and yours buckles for a split second. Like, whoa. I didn't really need to know that. It said she'd been living with it for over two decades. If i have that long, it will put me in my 70s. Not a bad run.

I still don't know how one dies from leukemia. I keep forgetting to ask my onc. or look it up. I think I'll forget again now and go back to my Nano novel.

A room

We bought our house almost four years ago. We looked at a few in the town we settled in, Youngtown, Arizona. It was the only place were we could afford a single family dwelling other than condos. Now, I know we should have waited, but, oh well.

Most of the places were empty and needed more work that we could afford to put into them. One place had a horrible feeling to it. A spiritual oppression. Even Jonas, our realtor felt it and mentioned it before I did. I don't know if everybody has the ability to discern the feel or spirit of a place. I do. This place just grabbed me by the throat had squeezed.

I don't remember where it is, what it looked like, nothing I was interested in even if it didn't feel like Satan's fold-out couch. I hate to think what happened there.

There was one room, however, that was different. A different feel, a different look. The block walls were off-white but had a colonial blue color rubbed on so the blocks were outlined. I remember speckles of red, too. Just a little, but maybe I'm wrong about that. Unlike the rest of the place, it looked like someone tried to care.

It had a bed, made up in a dark blue spread, old, but the bed was neat. On one side, near the foot, was a pile of three books. One looked like a journal and another was a Bible, a paperback version, like the occupant or past occupant staged that one room only and wanted to leave a message.

It's one of those mysteries I wish I could have answered in this lifetime. Who made the bed, staged the books like a magazine photo? All I can imagine is that the person was female. What she had endured there, in that oppressive place, I don't know. But I liked to think she wanted to leave some hope in that place that held the opposite.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Living in the back of the house

Our roof top air conditioning unit died. Well, not completely. It needs a blower motor transplant.

We sort of almost have the money. Sort of. In the meantime, since summer won’t let go here in the Southwest, we moved to the back of the house. We have window AC units in the AZ room and the 3rd bedroom in the back of the house. Fortunately, there’s a bath, too. Only have to go to the front for clothing and things from the office.

I’m glad we have this refuge. The Ikea futon is a comfortable bed. I miss writing in my office or with my feet propped up on the loveseat., though. The bedroom AC is old and a little loud but it blows cold. We use a fan to blow in cool from the AZ room to the kitchen to cook and eat, so we’re not suffering.

Wish we could afford to replace the blasted thing ($5,000-6000).

Wish it would cool off. Jeepers, it’s October. We’re wasting good weather being hot!


I really was going to update this regularly. But, Life. It got kind of hard-still is and I didn't want to turn this into a bitch-rant so, I didn't blog. I just kind of came home after work and stared at my novel.

I was waylaid in the hospital for a few days the second weekend of September. Blood clots. My ancestors suck. I got every bad gene that ever went into any one of them. And probably a few of my own. Cripes. As my dad used to say.

Between then and now.

1. Pete moved to L.A. to try out the music industry. He helped a friend move there and was invited to stay with him. According to Pete, he offered some well received suggestions regarding some rap or hip hop or something being recorded by Will Smith's nephew. I hope he manages to remain the same good guy he is now.

2. Sarah is having another poem published and has been asked to read it at a reception on Sunday for the publication of The Red Room: Writings from Press 1 which is compiled by a teacher she had at Drexel.

My kids amaze me. More about that in another post.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Interesting...are the fates conspiring? Nah.

"...the pleasure writing gave him: sensual and tactile, a jolt that ran through hum when it worked. Always, he was writing in his head; at parties, he craved to be at a desk. He sometimes thought it was the only honest conduit he had to the world around him, all other endeavors...lost in the excessive caution of failed expectations and injured feelings. (Anita Shrive The Last Time They Met)

A man in my critique group wrote a novella length piece that I said would make a good movie-murder, a sociopathic main character. I told him I'd help him write the screenplay. He took me seriously. I can see us at a pitch meeting with studio execs--breaking all molds. Me: Hey, thanks so much for meeting with us. We apologize, I'm old and fat and female and Fred is older and bald, but we have this great story..."

My son is probably moving to LA-one more person to know there--and a reason to visit--he has an offer from a friend to work with him in music production. I wish him all the luck in the world. He's a good man, smart and works hard. He deserves a break and a chance to do what he loves.

School's good! I get to talk about writing all day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Writer's Block

Maybe it's just that it's back to teaching and I'm coming home mentally and physically exhausted, but I look at what I've written and all I can say is "This shit sucks." I look forward to it all day and I finally get to sit down with my computer and wonder why I've wasted almost 2 years of my life writing. Except to make me a better writing teacher so grading the scribbles of 90 sixth graders will take up so much time i can't write, anyway. Hell, I could have been watching TV!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love, again.

I've seen mixed reviews about the movies. Those that love it do because mostly because of Julia Roberts who has always been only okay in my book. I did like the David guy in the book. But I had a hard time believing a guy like that is for real. What woman doesn't want to fall in love on the rebound with a handsome, sensitive actor? And James Franco, to boot. That would be worth the netflix.

Those that don't say it's too long and it's about a spoiled American woman...blah, blah...just what I said.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

The movie comes out on Friday. My daughter gave me the book for Christmas and I was excited to read it, but, well...I put it aside. I was having issues with it.

I read the first chapter or two or three. The writer-Elizabeth Gilbert, if I remember correctly, decided she needed to divorce her husband. She didn't go into all the issues because she wanted to respect the privacy of her ex-husband. The issue she talked mostly about was the fact she felt trapped. She decided she didn't want to start having babies and do other things that were expected of her, things she basically agreed to when she said, "I do." Or even before when she said, "Yes." I guess I have a little problem with that. I've been married for over 27 years. My husband is a good man, but he has a head injury and, frankly, wow, how do I want to say this without making either one of us sound less than we are. Well, he's lacking certain qualities I wish he had. I have to do many things I wish he would do, but he can't because his brain doesn't work that way anymore. And honestly, I didn't realize all these things before I said "Yes, I will marry you," and "I do." In some ways, my marriage is not what I thought it would be or what I hoped or envisioned. I don't think many are, but some of us manage to work through the frustration and disappointment, find the good things about the relationship and make it better. I'm sure I have disappointed my husband in many ways, too.

So there's that. Then--well, maybe this is envy speaking but--I would like the opportunity to travel the world to "find myself." I'd also like to travel to lose myself and be myself. EG was fortunate to be a travel writer and had an opportunity to begin her spiritual adventure by working. I'm not sure how the rest was funded, maybe the same way. I certainly don't have a problem with that. But if most people who "found" ourselves had to wait until we could travel abroad to do it, well, we'd be permanently lost.

I have a hunch that "finding oneself" is a recent luxury of middle and upper class America. Most people alive today and who preceded us consider "feeding oneself" and her family a blessing. I'm extremely blessed to be able to sit in my comfy cool home in the desert summer and spout off about a tidbit of pop culture.

I may be missing a lot by not reading this book. Often, however, hyped movies and books leave me feeling, "Really? So what?" Not all the time, but many times. Maybe the movie would be simply a good story if I didn't have issues with the book. And maybe, when the DVD makes it to Netflix, I'll find out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Romance?

Last night I finished writing the first draft of my second, well, third, novel I'm a little abashed to say they are romances. Not the Harlequin heaving bosoms kind (I hope-it's been awhile since I looked at one) but hopefully something with a little meat in it, looking at modern relationships, maybe comparing them to older models. And rebuilding devastated lives, which seems to be a common theme in women's fiction. There's a topic for some pondering and a post some day.

I didn't set out to write romance, but I started typing in November of 2008 for NaNoWriMo and that's what came out. But I like a good escape tale. Life can be so mundane, day-in-day out samething. Too much work, too little money, too many bills, etc. Guys read and watch action/adventure blow things up/shoot guys dead for their escape. I don't mind that once in a while, and most of them do have some kind of romantic subplot.

I'm reading Steven King's On Writing right now. He says don't be ashamed of the kind of stories you write. Someone chided him on his horror/suspense genre early in his career-he was smarter than that. Well, they sell and he's a kabillionaire. If you do something well and there's a market for it and you love it...

Of course, the jury's still out on if I do romance well. Heck, the jury hasn't even been given the case yet.

I'm going to ask a few friends if they'll read it for me. I need to take a few weeks of from it and get some distance. I can watch movies, read books and screenplays and work on my second screenplay. Or begin book 2 of the trilogy.

I'm fairly intelligent, above average, but not necessarily deep. I know a little about a lot of things. So, I guess my writing will reflect that. I don't expect some dense, brooding tome exploring the meaning of life, etc. At least not yet. My writing will mature as I continue work on it, but in the meantime, if romance comes out when my fingers hit the keys, so be it. I pray I do it well, entertain, maybe get women to look at their relationships and think about God's part in their lives.

Here are my writing projects since November, 2008

A Box of Rain--abandoned (for n0w)
The C Word Can Make You Cry (NaN0 2009. Well , this isn't technically finished. I left the last few pages go to the last day of Nov., thinking, "What can possibly keep me from it. An unexpected serious illness that required hospitalization. That's what I get for having a little hubris)
Another Place on the Planet (began as an alternate ending for Box and took on a life of it's own. I have enough material for 2 more books to make a series of it, I believe.)

Another Place on the Planet (based on the 3rd book of the series)
Life in the Face Of... (working title based on The C Word...)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How To Be Alone

Free Writing Advice

I emailed the following to my daughter and she posted it on her writing blog so I'm going to borrow it back and post it on mine.

I was reading your blog entries--you're amazing--about writing. I have some advice. Unsolicited sure, but that's what moms do. At least it's only about writing.

1. If you write, you are a writer. not of sorts, but you ARE. damn, girl, you've even been published!

2. writers write every day or as often as possible. we make time to write, give up less important things to write--less important not meaning important relationships, getting out with people and having some new experiences-(consider it research for the future)

3. your short story--I guess your deadline is past. Did you finish the story? I mean plow through it until you could write the end? It's a first draft, not intended to be perfect. Hemingway said, "The first draft of anything is shit." Doesn't matter how bad you think it is, if it makes sense or not--get it down. Most times the first draft is where we figure out what the story is going to be about, etc. that doesn't have to be all ready before you type. I've been doing a lot of reading about writing and that's what everybody says. And it's true. Rewriting the beginning is a way to procrastinate when you're afraid to move ahead and see you might actually be good.

4.place to write. Isn't it the Isle of Wight? Even though the Isle of Wright might be a good place to write. Don't wait till you get the perfect place. It's a another form of procrastination. If i waited till I got a sewing room to sew all those dresses I made when you were little, you wouldn't have had them. Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote in a cold prison cell, etc. Set up a crate in your room for the typewriter (If that's how you insist on doing it) or take your computer or notebook to a coffee shop, whatever. You can get a cute little cottage when you sell a book. I'll share mine if I get it first!

5. I bet there's some writing groups in Philly. My critique group has been the best thing. I have learned so much about the language, style, everything. Including my writing is at least reasonable, people understand it, i occasionally turn a good phrase or hit upon some wisdom or something that resonates with someone. It's scary at first, but it's worth it. You have lots to share, too.

I like the way your writing blog looks. I started a new one-i must add another entry ASAP!

so there's my $0.02.

Be happy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The end is near--if only I could write it

I have until Sunday night to finish my book, Another Place on the Planet. I just have to hack it out to get it done. I don't have a flair for snappy endings. Heck, I'm not even sure I have a flair for decent writing, but I try.

Another Place is an alternate ending to my first novel, A Box of Rain, which I wrote for my first NaNoWriMo in 2008 when the the writing bug bit and I became infected. I think some parts of the story were good for my first attempt, and I had some nice compliments from my critique group, (Glendale Writer's Critique Group) although none of them liked the main character's love interest. It had an ending. But as I thought about it, I wasn't satisfied. After all, it's a romance and all the ending promised was stability with a nice guy. As escape material, I thought, "Boring!"

So, I had the MC meet another potential love who was a bit more interesting. And I liked that and hopefully had the reader wondering who was going to get the girl, the MC. But then I took it one step beyond and Another Place on the Planet was born and has grown and grown and...

I have enough material for at least three books. I started last May and spent almost a year writing scenes, rewriting a few, taking different twists but couldn't get it all focused so this summer I said, "Trilogy!" We'll see what a publisher, if any, says.

But first I have to write the end of the first book. Then I have to revise and see if it all makes sense and where I can improve conflict and sexual tension, etc. I have to focus on the unseen details that make it tight and readable, that make it flow. It's quite the learning process. Not as much fun as devising new situations for two characters I've come to love. But any good writer knows that most of writing is rewriting.

I've been finding if I get bogged down and can't move the story forward I need to take a short break from it. Maybe work for a day or two on my current screenplay or watch a few movies or read some fiction or a combination of all of the above. I do have a couple of Netflix I've been looking forward to viewing, Precious and Through a Glass Darkly. So, maybe I'll do that tomorrow. Also must edit my critique group submission for this week and critique the submissions from last time.

My free time is rapidly drawing to a close. I went into my smelly new classroom today and filled up my desk and put a personal-type bulletin board up where I hang important papers I need often and things the kids give me. I'll have 90 kids this year instead of 70. Besides Science and Social Studies, I hear they've tacked on Writing, so I'll have 90 kids to read for. Hmmm...I'm not going to let it cut into much of my writing time. Keep it short, stupid. KISS.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another Attempt at Social Networking

This is my third attempt at keeping a blog. As I study the craft of writing in the 21st century, I have learned writers should have a platform where people can go check them out. I'm not ready for a full fledged website yet. Maybe when I have published books and can afford an assistant to keep it up for me. Or maybe next summer when I have time again.

Social networking is how most of us live today. Even little known me has 116 (and counting) friends on Facebook. I didn't know I knew that many people. Some are cousins I met once when they were babies, if even then. A few are people I went to high school with (35 years ago). I find it quite amazing. It used to be face time was the only time with a person, excepting the telephone.

I know, I sound old, and that's why it's so amazing to me.

I mean, I grew up when You had to dial a phone. Your finger could get tired if the number had a lot of 9s and 0s in it. It was connected to a wall with a wire (well, landlines still are) and the hand set was connected to the phone with a curly wire that was always tangled up in itself. It had a mechanical bell in it to announce someone was calling you. It didn't play your favorite song or choice of cheesy ringtone because like me, you're too cheap to buy your favorite song as a ring tone. Or however you do that. I'm not that advanced. You could hit your brother on the head with it and render him unconscious so he's forget to tell your mom you were talking to that guy you were forbidden to talk to. Well, I never did that. If i remember correctly I talked to zero (O) boys on the phone in high school.

We were watching The Taking of Pelham 123 (the 2009 version, I think it was a remake. Not my usual thing but I do love Denzel Washington). Anyway, the landline had a cord, one of the curly ones, i was surprised to see. The only one if those I use is in my classroom. I had a cordless one until someone jacked it. I dislike the curly cords.

And I digressed.

Here's a link that got me thinking I should get my blog rolling:


Dang, that's long. Aren't you glad you don't have to type it in?

Speaking of social networks, here's a link to the trailer for The Social Network, a movie about the originators of Facebook.

What do you think about 21st century social networking?