Monthly Archives: April 2007

Dear Darling Daughter

17 is going to kill me.

I keep hearing how things get better…
when they’re 30.


Alec Baldwin, I’m totally there with you some days.


Until this morning I FORGOT I had tomorrow off. Woo Hoo!!!!!
I love surprises like that.
Jeff Gordon won the race.
I survived the freeway ride with DD driving, twice.
Bleak House is the Masterpiece Theatre tonight.
It’s been a very good day. 🙂

I also finished Michelle Willingham’s Her Irish Warrior. Great book to add to a great weekend.



I walked up to the building and pang of memory hit me. Junior high wasn’t exactly my shining moment, but I sure did love school EXCEPT this gymnasium. This was where I learned some truths about Texas.
1. Little girls fixed their hair.(and they wanted to be cheerleaders)
2. Little girls wanted to be cheerleaders. (cheerleading was next to God)
3. Little girls smiled pretty, wore Dr Pepper or Bugglegum Bonne Bell lipgloss.(and they wanted to be cheerleaders)
4. And when it came to gym, little girls kicked butt. They climbed the rope, they hit the ball, they touched their toes.(and they wanted to be cheerleaders)

I was a little girl, but I did NONE of the above. Well, that’s not exactly true. I wanted to fix my hair, but Farrah Fawcett and big hair were all the rage. My hair fell flat no matter what I did, no matter how long I slept on those bristle rollers, no matter how much hairspray I used.
cheerleading was out of the question. I couldn’t even do a cartwheel. My gym coach tried teaching me. She told me everyone learned using her sstem. I broke her perfect record.
I was an anti-cheerleader.

Things back home haven’t changed much.
The gym was packed wall-to-wall with little girls–one my niece. Their hair was perfect, their smiles in place on lipglossed lips. And they were ready to kick butt on the floor. Some even had their personal coaches with them leading them through back flips and roundoff back handsprings and yes, the cartwheel.

Some momma’s watched proudly–perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect tans, perfect clothes. I didn’t recognize them, but they looked like they’d been cheerleaders in their past lives.

My niece is 9. She was competing for one of the 15 slots available on the team. Over half the girls in her age group trying out wouldn’t make the team.

Sitting there in that hot gym, I remembered how BADLY I wanted to be one of those girls, how I never could do it, and how horrible that made me feel. I was 12. I can’t imagine feeling that way at 9!

My nieces are staying the night with me tonight. The one who tried out for cheerleader sent me to the following youtube video. It scared the crap out of me!

Going Through the Motions

Buffy and Veronica Mars. Two of my favorite shows.

Going Through the Motions.
That’s the way I’ve felt all day.
to make it worse, I LEFT an entire page out of our deadline.
Thank GOD I found out before we turned the final yearbook pages in!
Late is better than blank. I’m going to keep telling myself that.

Back Pain

She stood there
in the kitchen
laughing and
burning the fried chicken
kneading bread
sifting flour
for cookie dough
mixing orange Tang with tea
Selling Tupperware
or Avon
or Amway

Always the best
at what she did

one day
she changed

They call it medication
slurred speech
sleepy days
sleepless nights
spent with QVC
and eBay

Quietly disappearing
into nothing
while I watch
in anger
and helplessness
will keep writing
one prescription
after another
and another,,,

The laughter’s gone
I miss it
And I can’t bring it back

Learning to Read

Class: Why do we have to read? I HATE reading.
Me: You don’t hate reading. You hate being forced to read and analyze old books.
Class: NO. We pretty much hate reading.

When does this shift take place? Today I asked the kids. Their answer: 6th-7th grade. When all that analyzing stuff starts. When “close reading” becomes the norm.
They don’t read for story anymore. English teachers change an amazing adventure into a science more mundane than anything we find in the classroom. I mean seriously, epistrophe? Who cares?!?!
My best friends are English teachers and I know me saying this drives them crazy. But ENGLISH teachers are killing books as much as video games and the computer.

So today I had a little chat with my j classes. I told them they HAD to read when they’re done with work in my classroom. And then we talked about the difference in the science of reading (grammar, literary terms, analysis) and the pleasure of reading (OMG, Hatchet is the best book ever!). And you know what? They all knew and loved Hatchet. It’s one of the last books they all read and had fun reading.
I gave them a list of some books to try. And I told them there’s nothing wrong with the three chapter rule. If it’s not good in three chapters, I certainly don’t waste my time reading them. We’ll see if it makes a difference. I sure hope it does.

Speaking of….our curriculum coordinator is looking for great high school/junior high level books boys can connect with. Any suggestions?

Public Speaking

When I applied to the leadership cohort I had ulterior motives. I thought my leadership was just fine, thank you. BUT I wanted to learn tips and tricks for helping my editors succeed as leaders.
Boy  was I wrong. My leadership skills needed a lot of work.
I chose to work on two major areas: One, how I do things looking for approval instead of what’s best for me.
Two, public speaking. Before this year, I never spoke in public about anything that wasn’t writing related.
Last night I spoke at the school board meeting. It was so scary thinking about it. But you know what? Once I got up there and opened my speech book, I was fine. I was a little emotional, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’ve learned something new about myself. I LOVE speaking to people about things I care deeply about. It’s fun to craft the words to make an impact. And it’s totally different from what I do in the classroom or with writing presentations.
I’ve grown so much this year because of the cohort. I wonder if I’d feel the same joy overcoming my extreme fear of heights?!


Just returned from journalism conference in Austin. As always it was wonderful. Found a new place to eat: Shady Grove. YUM. Green chili corn chowder might be my new favorite soup. Today I had sweet potato fries. Whoa. Fabulous!
I spoke about writing, as always. 🙂 I always start by telling students what I’ve heard writers say from the beginning of time: If you want to be a great writer, you MUST read. And by read, I mean books other than the classics you’re forced to read in English. And then I made suggestions.


I’ve written about the Westerfeld books recently, so I don’t need to repeat myself. AMAZING!

Same thing here. Laurie Halse Anderson’s books are edgy and exciting and emotional. MUST reads.

I’ve actually only read the first in the trilogy, but it left a powerful image in my mind. WOW! I followed the first with Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Kite Runner. Eye opening stories about a part of the world I try to understand. Reading Lolita in Tehran is non-fiction and not one you can read quickly. But a little bit every day goes a long way.

DD rechecked the book from the library I don’t know how many times, so I figured I better find out what was so great. WOW.

I truly do believe this book should be added to our reading list for juniors. Singing With the Top Down is a unique story set in a time we call the “good ol’ days.” Williamson’s story rings true with characters you cheer for.

Another adviser recommended this:

What do you recommend?

May RRRW Speaker: Candy Havens

I’m so excited about the May RRRW speaker! If you know anyone in our area, will you help spread the word?

Candace “Candy” Havens is one of the nation’s leading entertainment writers. Candy has interviewed countless celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon and George Clooney.

In addition to writing columns on everything Hollywood, and novels with Berkley including the double Rita, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader’s Award finalist “Charmed & Dangerous,” Charmed & Ready” and the upcoming “Charmed & Deadly” (June 5, 2007) and “Like A Charm” (Feb. 2008). She has published a biography on Buffy the Vampire creator Joss Whedon with Benbella books and been involved in several anthologies including “Five Seasons of Angel,” “Alias Assumed: Sex, Lies and SD-6,” and “Dreams and Desires: A Collection of Romance and Erotic Tales.”

Candy is an entertainment critic for the Dorsey Gang on 96.3 KSCS, which broadcasts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and the Managing Editor of FYI Television Features, where she writes weekly columns syndicated to hundreds of newspapers.

A Texas native, Candy attended Houston’s prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and graduated the University of North Texas with a degree in Journalism. A 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, Candy has written thousands of articles.

Fast Draft is process for writing that first draft in just 14 days. Candy Havens takes you through the rules and the steps in this class designed for beginners through professionals.


So before testing today one of my friends left a book on my desk. I didn’t intend to read it ALL today, but I did. Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson is amazing. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. If I’d read the back of the book before I started actually reading, I would’ve known that. It’s NYT and an ALA Best Books for Young Readers book. Another Anderson book, Speak, was a National Book Award Finalist.
I LOVE finding new to me authors.
And even though this is shelved as YA, it’s definitely a good adult read.
If you get a chance, DEFINITELY read this book!