Monthly Archives: March 2008

District Champs

The Rider journalism team reclaimed district champion status yesterday at the district meet. Three of my kids placed high enough to definitely compete at Regions. Two came in fourth so they’re first alternates. DD was one of those who placed so we have at least one more meet together. YAY!

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YB

When the phone rang that summer I was minding my own business, working away on a 20 page paper over Moby Dick and the hero’s journey, or something like that. I get all those papers mixed up in my mind after all these years. Anyway, I was writing…in the zone and I almost didn’t answer the call, but the ID showed Goddess of our school Kathy Merder on the line, and, well, I didn’t have a choice.
Kathy’s one of those women who knows exactly how to get you to do what she wants. She scares the living daylights out of you. When she says jump. You jump. Once she made our meanest, toughest, biggest coach cry. And she wasn’t even trying.
Anyway, so Goddess Kathy was calling.
And I answered.
And she said, “the yearbook teacher from last year is in the hospital having surgery because of the stress of deadlines. Say you’ll take the job.” And I said…well, I better not write that down,
See I’m a newspaper girl. Always have been. Always will be.
Way back when I was 15 and my J-teacher Mrs. Gillespie instilled the importance of news in my soul, I found my calling.
Yearbook was my idea of hell.
All those cheerleaders and preppy boys in pink shirts looking like the cast of Saved by the Bell. No thanks.
BUT
This was Kathy. And a couple years before she was the book adviser and I was the paper adviser and we shared a room, and I pretty much decided, once I got over my TERROR of her, she was beyond amazing. Plus I got to know a few of those cheerleaders, and funny thing was, they weren’t really as bad as I thought.
But still. The book was, in my opinion, staffed by a group of beautiful honors conformists who wanted to have fun, eat lunch, and work on Who Wants to be the Most Popular, and thanks but no thanks. Me and my paper kids with their funky hairstyles and crazy clothes were out there changing the world.
And I was working on my Master’s.
AND hel-lo, the past year’s adviser was having surgery because of the stress. I’d seen her earlier, and she she’d SHAVED ALL HER HAIR OFF!. So I’d be crazy to take the job.
I think Kathy had notes because she knew I’d say no. So she threw in the whole, but we’ve got this great kid from Kansas. You know her. Rebecca. She’s going to be editor, and she really wants to make it a journalistic book. You could help her.
I knew Rebecca. And I knew then I was stuck. Yearbook was mine. At least for a year.
That first year I learned a few lessons.
Lessons like those kids I saw as conformists who thought only of making the grade and popularity were actually pretty amazing.
And just like all my other students, they worried about love, suffered heartbreak, laughed at Beavis and Butthead, watched The Real World, listened to music, sought acceptance and self-worth. The loved Hope Floats and City of Angels. They came from broken homes. They knew about prejudice. They knew about death and depression and pregnancy scares.
They were just kids. Like all the other kids. And they were mine.
One year in, I was hooked.
I bet Kathy had this planned a decade ago when she called. I think next Monday I’ll go tell her thank you.

C&E

She sat on the last row, the one closest to the windows. A Latina tough girl in a sea of white. The glittering diamond in her nose completely out of place in 1996.
C’s  hair was gorgeous. Long. Brown. Highlighted to perfection. Her dark red lipstick didn’t look so dark against her skin. Black eyeliner outlined her hazel eyes with a special I Dream of Genie tilt at the outside corners. I Dream of Genie is what I called it. She just laughed.
Her binder was covered in art. Art she drew or art she found in the envelopes delivered daily to her house. On each of her fingers,just above where they joined her hand block letters spelled out a name on one side, initials I didn’t understand on the other.
The first time she walked in my room, she nodded and sat down in that seat by the windows, claiming it in (again) a way I didn’t understand.

The second week of school C dropped a paper on my desk. “Miss,” she said, “What d’ you think about this?”
A sheet of poetry. The universal language of angst ridden teens. The question one that struck terror in my English teacher’s heart.
I turned my eyes to the page and studied the intricate penciled drawings adorning the top and margins of the page, trying to school my face into the pleasant “this is fantastic” smile that encourages children to continue their love affair with words, even though their simplistic couplets about be mine and wine or fine or line cause the hidden William Carlos WIlliams in me to cringe.
AND
Her poetry WASN’T universal. The pain, the pure heartbreak on the page connected with me in a way no student’s had before. It was a sucker punch to the gut. A stark reminder of dark days and broken relationships and dreams lost and so, so much more.
“C,” I said as I stared in awe first at the paper and then at the girl. “This is…” and I searched for a word before finally settling on the completely inadequate, “AMAZING!”

Thus began the poetry moments. Times when the tough girl let her guard down and opened her world to me. The poetry, the art, the intricate leather key chains she collected.
And then one day…
The new art on her binder was colored this time. C&E in calligraphy the FORUM mothers of her schoolmates would pay ridiculous money for.
C&E.
E. The inspiration for the words on the page.
E. The kid I figured was across town at the other school.
E. The artist responsible for the new art on the binder.

E., I learned that day, the MAN  NOW IN PRISON.

By the end of the year C changed. The diamond still sparkled, the eyeliner still tilted, the clothes still hugged a little too tight or a little too low, BUT
C sat front and center. And she laughed. And she talked. And she wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

The year after C graduated, we saw each other at Wal-Mart in the ice cream aisle on a summer day. She was working and going to junior college and yes, still writing the poetry.

I didn’t ask about E.

I hope C MADE IT. I hope she left this town where girls like her are thrown away and found a place to put those words of hers to work.
Because with her poetry that sang, C spoke to me. And she awoke the writer in my soul that somehow during the years of school and term papers and tests and then teaching had hidden, waiting for me to remember.

Gena Showalter

I’m already a Gena Showalter fan. I buy all her books. BUT if I weren’t, I would be now. Check this out:
http://www.lordsoftheunderworld.net/

New Book

I’m not ready to start yet, but the gem of a new idea started yesterday.
I love this time.
This “anything could happen” moment.
I see a fuzzy idea of my heroine in a location but I don’t know a lot more. I know she has a teenage daughter and that she’s a single mom. And that’s it.
It’s my first non-suspense in two years.
AND I’m sooooo excited.

Now to wrap up Darkness, the psychic/killer/stalker book. 🙂

3:30 in the morning

And I just finished revisions. Plot is nailed. Internalizations are complete. Just needs one more go-through for setting type details to anchor place. Then I’ll do edits.
Woo Hoo.

Happy Easter!

(Started reading A. McCabe’s new Harlequin Historical. WOW! I can’t wait to read more!)

Easter

“God talked to me today”

I was an agnostic who never took my family to church. And then, my son starting hearing the voice of God.

By Ann Bauer

The Salon RSS feed I get usually goes unread, but this headline called to me this morning before Easter, so I clicked through and I’m not sorry. In a three page article Bauer made me laugh and cry. Real life’s like that.
My old preacher used to say the same thing every Good Friday. “It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming.” I need to remember that.

Charlotte Dillon’s blogging again, and this post is amazing. It struck so many chords in me. Dillon’s site is a MUST see for all new romance writers and I go back to it again and again.

I started reading a new book last night, but I’m putting it away. I’m in a strange funk, so I don’t know if the book is really bad or if I’m being too hard on it. I’ve read several awesome books this month, though. In the book I started reading the hero seemed closer to twelve than thirty and the conflict was completely manipulated. Ugh. I know authors always manipulate the conflict, the plot, the dialogue, BUT readers don’t want to think that while they’re reading. The book earned a 4.5 stars, top pick from RT, though, so I might go back later and try again.
Two books I’ve read this month that I LOVED: Tracy Montoya’s I’ll be Watching You and Karen Templeton’s Baby, I’m Yours.

On luck, VERY  GOOD!

Are you watching Eli Stone?

Eli Stone is a breath of fresh air in TV land. It’s quirky, fun and exciting. It reminds me of Ally McBeal.
Lost is still amazing. This week ended with “now you know the six” but I wonder if there will be more.  Every time I watch the show I’m in awe of the writers.
I’m still totally addicted to America’s Next Top Model. The DVR didn’t record three weeks in a row because of EMS testing. Ugh. No new until April 24. Noooooooo!!!!!
Canterbury’s Law is great, but Fox’s online media player sucks. Nowhere near as good as ABC’s. The character’s background story is strong. Not as surprising as the background in Saving Grace, but still interesting.
Big Brother is boring. I watch it on DVR and fast forward through most of it. The couples idea didn’t work at all.
Survivor: I can’t believe this but I haven’t watched ANY of this season. I don’t know why. We haven’t even DVR’d it.
Law and Order, the original L&O not SVU or CI, is back to being as fabulous as it was in the olden days. The new DAs rock. I’m not sure about the other two in the series franchise because I don’t watch them all the time.

I miss hockey. Now that it’s playoff season I’d love to watch more, but I can never find it on TV. We went to a GREAT game this week. The Stars marketing people have totally screwed up the opening. Hockey is heavy metal, rock and roll, edgy. The new start is some soft sweet bubble gun poppy photo power point of the players. Instead of hockey players they look like they’re going to start ice dancing at any moment. Now I have nothing against ice dancing. In fact, I like ice dancing just fine. But it’s not hockey.
Honestly though, it’s probably better hockey’s not on TV. I watch entirely too much!

Little Girls

The nieces are hanging out with their Auntie today and tomorrow. They’re wearing me out. How can a three and ten-yr-old make me so tired?!?

Really?!?!

Back when I was a kid, we lived for Easter. Not for any religious reasons, really, but for the baskets and the egg hunts. Sure, I KNEW the religious reason, but the chocolate bunny was all my mind was on. Back then candy wasn’t an every day treat. It took a special occasion. We certainly didn’t know about vending machines.
My next door neighbor was from the Ukraine, so egg decoration was something all together different from boxed egg color added to vinegar.
Anyway, Easter was a big deal.

DD got the requisite Easter basket until she was 10. After that we put the basket away and I didn’t think much about it again until today when I heard a commercial for Easter baskets in “All the Latest Trends.”
There are trendy Easter baskets?!?!?
Wow.
I’m totally out of the loop.

If you haven’t heard the latest Harlequin editors’ podcast, check it out. Susan Litman and Gail Chasen talk about SSE and how to catch their attention. I’m not targeting SSE, but I love the books. The podcast is definitely informative.