Monthly Archives: March 2014

District UIL

Spent this weekend in Denton where we won third and fifth in features, which earns us a trip to Regionals. Whew! I always want to make it to the next level. For a while I was used to dominating district. I have all these team champ plaques. That kind of gets in your brain and makes you think you’re all that.

Two years without that team championship…not even close to that made me sad at first.

But then I changed my mindset.

How amazing and awesome is it that I teach in a state with such strong scholastic journalism?!?!

I’m a big believer in scholastic J. I teach classes on the first amendment that begin with this:

Student Journalists, you are the final stand for the student voice. You are protectors of the constitution. Without you, the first amendment falls, and if it fails, democracy fails.

I want student journalists to understand how important what they do is.

It’s easy to lose sight of that in this world where celebrities and missing planes take priority over soldiers dying and the destruction of the public school. So much of the news has become something else, but not in schools. In schools, our papers are strong.

And that is awesome.

I’m thankful we’re going to Regionals. I’m thankful Regionals is in Abilene instead of San Angelo. And I can’t wait to see my friends, fellow advisers who understand the importance of scholastic J.

***

Yes, I’m still working on the next Sharlene Gallagher book. It’s with beta readers now, so it won’t be long! Her next adventure is great fun. 🙂

 

 

Headlines, Hashtags and Memes

This morning I woke up and reached for my glasses. That’s always first.

Before I do anything else I check my news apps and then twitter and then facebook. It’s a serious problem.

I didn’t realize how serious of a problem until today.

I am losing at least 30 minutes every morning on headlines, hashtags and memes.

A long time ago I read (and loved) the Mary Kay autobiography. In it she said to wake up early every day and it would add whole days to your productivity at the end of the month. I don’t think there’s a headlines, hashtags, meme section in 7 Habits.

Me thinks I’ve got an issue that needs a little fixin’ up.

Probably more of an addiction.

Maybe worse than my coffee addiction.

Ack.

Love or Hate…Rock or Rockstar

Oh the agony…

Okay, not really.

I’m working on the beginning of the first draft of a book. It’s a love/hate relationship.

One day I love the words. They’re gold. They are rockstar. They sing to me while I breathe life into the story.

And the next they are struggling to be anything more than rock…not pretty rock, just that plain white gravel…that stuff that flies off of trucks on the highway and smacks my windshield and scares the crap out of me and makes me want to call the “How’s My Driving?” number on the bumper sticker and tell whomever answers exactly what I think about that…

Anyway, the beginning is always like this. Okay, again, not really.

ALL OF IT IS ALWAYS LIKE THIS. Even the muse inspired stuff.

So yeah, I’m working on the beginning, and I’m trying to find the voice of the story and the characters all while working through opening plot points that make sense to the characters that begin to take form as the opening morphs into something more than words on the page.

Once I get chapter one where I want it, I can go NANO-style, fastdraft on the first draft. Until then, it’s slow going. And I’m good with that, because this is fun.

 

New Characters

I sat down and read the first 2k of the new manuscript and knew I had a problem. My main character was all over the place. SHE didn’t know who she was. She was just there on the paper tagging along because her book was next.

Enter spotify.

Yesterday I worked on her a lot, trying to mold her into the person she needed to be with goals and motivations. Hopefully with the right attitude to lead to great conflict with the hero.

Thanks to Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies, Cassadee Pope, Kacey Musgraves and the Dixie Chicks, she’s quite the spitfire.

Thanks to Susan Gable’s Character Motto, I found her tone of voice: Mama said “Catch more bees with honey.” I figured squish the damn bee with my shoe. If I miss and it stings me, at least I down fighting.

Thanks to Scrivener, I’ve got the main character sketches done and an opening.

Tonight I love this book. Tomorrow…well, if you’re a writer, you know how that goes. 🙂

 

FYI: The next Sharlene Gallagher Guardian book is out with beta readers. Not long until Angel Eyes hits the market!

 

 

Pretty Reckless by Jodi Linton Out Today!

Jodi Linton’s Pretty Reckless hits shelves today, and I’m thrilled to share the news. You guys are going to LOVE Deputy Laney Briggs!

PrettyRecklessHighRes_final coverPretty Reckless by Jodi Linton

Welcome to Pistol Rock, Texas where everyone knows secrets last about as long as the sporadic west Texas rain showers.

Laney Briggs has long been considered reckless, but she’s turned herself around—she’s respectably engaged and she’s become a Pistol Rock deputy sheriff. Everything’s fine until a dead body turns up and her ex, Texas Ranger Gunner Wilson, decides to stick his boots into the town’s first murder case.

Laney will be damned if she lets Gunner trample all over her turf and her chance at a quiet, contented life. His seemingly endless ability to undermine her resolve and her libido was only outdone by her constant urge to butt heads with him. But when the bodies start to pile up, Laney has to ask the lethal bad boy for a hand—and a truce in exchange for his help.

Having an ex-boyfriend as an ally might not be the best idea, but Laney has always been pretty reckless…

Author bio:

JodiJodi Linton lives and works in Texas, with her husband and two kids. She can be found cozied up to the computer escaping into a quirky world of tall tales, sexy, tight jean wearing cowboys, and a protagonist with a sharp-tongue quick enough to hang any man out to dry.  PRETTY RECKLESS is her first novel. She is currently at work on her next Deputy Laney Briggs book.

buy links:

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New Tomorrow!

Y’all want to buy this book. I promise. It debuts tomorrow, and it’s only .99. The blog tomorrow will be about Jodi and Laney. 🙂

Pretty Reckless (Deputy Laney Briggs #1)Pretty Reckless by Jodi Linton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jodi Linton debuts with deputy sheriff Laney Briggs in her mystery Pretty Reckless.
In Laney, Linton has created a heroine who isn’t afraid of being toughly feminine in a world of men.
You know Laney is something different when you read this description of who she is: I’d pieced my heart back together and salvaged what little dignity I had left by jumping back in the saddle with a man safer than a Katherine Heigl chick flick. Unfortunately for me, old wounds can be a bitch the same way straying cowboys can be heartbreakers.
Even though the book opens with a murder, it would be easy to believe Pretty Reckless would join the ranks of countless Texas mysteries with aw shucks investigators stumbling onto clues that miraculously lead to answers in the “who done it” tome. It would be easy to make that mistake because Linton has fun with her character descriptions and nails the small Texas town vernacular.
It would be easy, but it would be so wrong. Pretty Reckless is fun and funny, but it’s also dark and gritty. Think Fargo set in small town Texas and you’ve got the feel of this book.
Linton takes risks in her debut, committing some cardinal sins in the romantic suspense genre. I won’t say more about that, but I will say trust the author. She makes it work. Not only does she make it work, she makes her readers route for Laney Briggs and the multiple cowboys in her life: the best friend veteran turned drunk, the one night stand, the former love or the current mistake.
Pretty Reckless delivers across multiple genres. Linton has created a book lovers of mysteries, westerns and romantic suspense will enjoy.

I received an advanced reader copy of Pretty Reckless in exchange for an honest review of the work.

View all my reviews

A Lion’s Tale

ImageOnce upon a time I read a study on why guys are so aggressive with remote controls. The study said it was because guys are lions. Since then when DH flips channels too far and the TV gets stuck in no man’s land and we have to turn everything off to get it back, I nod my head and think, “Yeah. Lion.”

That’s what I say about his aggressive driving, too. Honestly he’s a great driver. WAY too aggressive…I mean, Dallas aggressive, which would be fine if we lived in Dallas, but we live in Wichita Falls where everything is 15 minutes away unless you get stuck at the light at our corner in which case you can add 15 minutes to your travel time because that light sucks…but yeah, way too aggressive. And I just sigh to myself and say “Lion.” Okay. That’s a lie. I sigh quite loudly and grumble “LI-ON!” and it doesn’t change anything because that’s just the way he is which is okay most of the time unless we’re on Kemp Street on a Saturday and I wonder of we’re going to live because OHMYGOD there are too freaking many lions on the street on Saturdays in Wichita Falls.

Today we were on Kemp Street. On a Saturday.

We didn’t have a choice. The furniture stores are on that street.

And the lion in my life needed a new chair because the old one was kaput.

The good news: We lived.

And we got the new chair.

I thought it was for him. Now, I’m not so sure:Image

I love my lion. And the dog who USED to be mine. ❤

Today was awesome and then…

I spent all day in my Sharlene Gallagher universe. It was awesome. Half way through the day I posted this on Facebook:

ImageSo far Sharlene has fought demons, put some mean girls in their place, snagged a kiss (hel-lo, I write romance) and aced Calculus all while saving the world. Pretty good day for a guardian angel.

So yeah. Great day.

Even better because I finished edits on the book. Wonderful!

AND THEN (SPOILER ALERT…there’s no happy ending to this post. It veers off on a crazy direction of gloom courtesy of the news. If you don’t want to go there, quit reading now and enjoy the gloriousness of my day with Sharlene!

Better yet go read the first or second book. Angel Eyes isn’t ready yet, but it will be soon!)

 

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you)

 

(Third time’s the charm. The rest of this post is a rant…)

 

 

 

WAH! I’m addicted to the news. How did I let it ruin my great day?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I watched News Hour. And the whole time the source talked about a serious problem with education I thought I can’t believe a word you say because I no longer trust News Hour and I no longer believe the Dept. of Education wants public schools to survive. AND then I got in this funk of reading all sorts of education news that made me even more depressed.

And that just sucks. Because until then I was thinking about how EXCITED I am for Monday and how weird that is because Monday is the beginning of the end of the school year…testing, crazy hormonal students, deadlines. But even with all that I’m looking forward to seeing my kids again. They make me love my job. Most educators I know love their jobs. But now I’m all stressed and sad and grumpy and I think I better go work on the romantic suspense I’m revising because I get to blow stuff up in those books and that might actually make me feel better.

I teach journalism. I can’t quit the news. I think I might have to, though. Boo.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

DH moved into the old house in 1976. I moved in 1992.

We’ve spent the past few days over there working to get it ready to sell or maybe rent. It’s so weird how every empty room brings so many memories to life. Today I was scrubbing doorways and found a caution sticker stuck to a wall just high enough that DD must’ve put it there when she was around 9. She spent a lot of time with her nose in the corner back in those days. I figure she reached behind my desk and stuck it there.

And speaking of desks…I wrote my first books in that giant living room turned office of sorts. I woke DH up at 2 a.m. crying when I reached The End the first time. NOTHING I’ve done with writing beats that feeling.

I remember when we got Internet. One of my students worked for a company called Webfire, and he helped us set up AOL when we bought our first new computer, a Macintosh Performa. It’s so funny to remember trying to figure out email. It’s even funnier to remember DH calling me at work to tell me he’d broken the computer. It wouldn’t turn on. Back in those days computers cost a fortune. I ran to the office and everyone agreed it was urgent for me to go home, so they called a sub in and I drove like a crazy maniac to get to my panicked hubby. The dead computer wasn’t dead at all. It was asleep. One quick touch of the space bar and wa-lah.

It’s funny to remember the games of Risk and Phase 10 and poker and the number of Colorado Bulldogs and Dr Peppers and that time I decided to become a gourmet cook and DD and DH wrinkled up their noses and called for pizza. AND that time I caught the tostada shells on fire and then looked for them. AND that time DD blew on the rotel tomatoes before taking a bite because she thought that would cool them down.

I never loved that house. It never felt like mine. But now that we’re working to get rid of it, I’m sad. Not sad enough to move back, but sad all the same.

 

 

King ISDee

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a king named King ISDee. King ISDee wanted the best kingdom in the world. He wanted his people to thrive. He wanted peace and prosperity. His advisors were the best money could buy, always training apprentices to take their places over time so King ISDee would never be forced to rule alone.

One day a new merchant approached King ISDee’s advisors with a thought. The people King ISDee wanted to thrive were potentially troubled. While most were thriving as they should, a small percentage were struggling. King ISDee wanted all his people to thrive, not most. The merchant had a plan to make that happen.
A proven plan. A plan 9 out of 10 dentists approved. A state-of-the-art, new and improved plan.

BUT

The people would never participate if King ISDee didn’t require it, but if he would, the merchant guaranteed the best results ever.

The advisors listened to the merchant and told him they would take his plan under advisement. They did. They talked about it over small dinners, excited at the thought that they could possibly help King ISDee reach his goal of helping ALL his people thrive, thrilled at the idea of a proven plan to make that happen. The apprentices loved the idea. They wanted to go forward immediately. The sage advisors said they needed more time to look at the potential outcomes of the plan and to study the reasons for failure to thrive in Kind ISDee’s land of plenty. While they studied, though, they would meet with the merchant.

The merchant met with the advisors over time. At the meetings he heard about the excitement of the apprentices and asked if some of the apprentices could spend time with him, learning the ins and outs of his new plan. The advisors agreed that would be a wonderful idea. They planned a dinner, but the merchant told them he had made arrangements for an elaborate feast at the best restaurant in the kingdom. The advisors could feast and debate and look at the details of his plan without worry. The advisors thanked the merchant, but they declined his invitation. They could not feast for fear the merchant’s generosity would affect the outcome of their debates.

The kindly merchant understood. He told them the feast was already paid for and would still take place, but no one had to attend. Perhaps the advisors would stop by for a snack…or not. The choice was theirs.

The advisors thanked the merchant and sent him on his way with an apprentice.

The apprentice loved the merchant from the start. The merchant cared! He wanted to make the world a better place! He wanted ALL of Kind ISDee’s subjects to live lives of beauty. The merchant loved the apprentice from the start. He understood the message, the meaning, the world that could be!

Together they planned how to convince the advisors to hear the plan. How to reform them!

The apprentice invited his friends to the feast. A few advisors stopped by for snacks. They all agreed the merchant’s plan could be an easy answer to the persistent problem of the few who failed to thrive. They’d spent so many hours trying to find HARD answers when the easy answer was right here with the merchant. But the few advisors knew they could not convince the majority of the advisors to agree to the merchant’s plan. The majority had decided an easy answer was no true answer. They insisted on continuing the HARD work of problem solving.

The merchant scoffed. The few failures! King ISDee could not continue to leave them behind.

The advisors snacking agreed. But what could they do?Wringing their hands and shaking their heads they left the feast.

The apprentice had an idea. They would bypass the advisors and go straight to King ISDee.

The merchant loved the idea.

King ISDee listening to the merchant in horror. What?! He had a few failing to thrive in his kingdom?! When there was a proven plan that would save them?!

He called a special session with his advisors and took them to task.

The advisors explained that the majority were strong. They were excelling in all areas. But the few strugglers were affected by sickness, death, hunger and homelessness. The few could be helped, but it would take time. It would take true intervention in their lives. It would take an investment. Perhaps a master advisor could go to the area and make a change.

King ISDee thought of the plan. Yes, perhaps it could work. But first he wanted to speak to the merchant once more.

The merchant listened to the advisors’ solution and shrugged. Yes, the investment COULD work. But why when he had a PROVEN plan that would work better, faster, cheaper?

The king called his advisors in and asked them for advice. He found some of his advisors liked the merchant’s plan. They had feasted with the merchant and even helped him revise his plan. After much discussion, he informed the advisors of his decision. He was going to purchase the merchant’s plan.

Twenty years later…

King ISDee shook his head as he looked at the latest report on his kingdom. The report provided by his oldest master advisors warned of trouble. A few in the kingdom thrived, most simply existed, many failed. The report made no sense. He held up a different report. One given to him by the merchant. It showed most in the kingdom thriving. It blamed the few failures on advisors who refused to implement the plan. He railed against his advisors. Fewer now than ever, they trembled in the angry king’s presence. But they believed in their calling. They had appointed a speaker. The speaker stood and swallowed then spoke.

“King ISDee, perhaps the answer is to visit the people. Put the reports aside. Spend real time with them. Look at the reality of the situation instead of the report.”

King ISDee considered the advise. He heard his advisors. But in the end he held up the proven plan. “The data supports this conclusion,” he said.

And he continued to rule his shrinking kingdom with an iron fist and the merchant’s plan. And the few who failed to thrive grew into the many. And the advisors died…one by one until none were left. And then one day King ISDee took his last breath. And the merchant pretended to mourn while the apprentices placed a gold crown upon his head.