Category Archives: books

Senior Pictures

Did you get your senior picture taken? Did you make your senior appointment? Don’t forget the senior deadline. Get your picture done. According to my records you have not had your senior picture taken. Hey guys, help me out. Here’s a list of seniors not pictured. Can you tell the kids in your classes to get their pictures made? Okay, Lifetouch will be on campus on THIS DATE to take your last minute senior pictures. 

Hello. This is Mary Beth Lee. According to my records your senior has not yet had their photo taken for the yearbook. Lifetouch will be on campus on THIS DATE to take all last minute senior photos. This is the LAST chance for your senior to be photographed for the yearbook.

Notes (168 of them last year) delivered in class the week before final chance photos. Appointments required. Appointments made. 

Library set up. Pictures taken. 

Yearbook day: I’m not in the senior section!! Did you get your picture taken? Well, I did, in January. I called you, sent you notes, made your teachers harass you, the counselors called you down AND I made announcements the entire time Lifetiuch was here for last chance photos in OCTOBER. You’re right. You’re not in the senior section.
My introduction to my new school came courtesy of senior pictures. EM-S ISD uses a company called Glamour Craft, and they were on campus this week taking senior pictures. My new admin wanted me in the building just in case I was needed. I wasn’t, and that’s probably a good thing.

Monday was tough. I started unpacking my boxes and setting up shop in the new digs. It doesn’t feel like home yet. Brian and I stayed at the Venetian once. It was the swankiest place I’ve ever been. We had a butler and a doorbell. But we were still happy when we got home to the old house. That’s what Monday felt like. My new school is like the Venetian. But I have to find a way to make IT home.

I grew up in black and gold. I chose to swap the black with purple.

When I finished unpacking Monday, I sat at the computer and said What the heck have you done, Mary Beth?

After a few tears, I shook the bad feelings off and reminded myself I always hate school before the kids get there. Then I made a list of things I needed, because lists make me happy.

A bookcase was at the top of the list. Walmart to the rescue. $15.96 for a Mainstay 3-shelf bookcase. Sign me up.

People who know me understand the hilarity that was about to ensue. When it comes to mechanical issues, I’m pretty sure I have a learning disability. The book case instructions were photos. No words. YouTube took care of that. Two videos later (random guy:awesome, Target, your video is foreign language to people like me who don’t speak assembly required!), I tackled the project. 

Step 1: go find a screw driver because I left my years of tool collecting in the old newsroom.

Step 2: arrange everything and make sure the pictures match.

Step 3: use the hammer

Steps 5-9: suck it up and get over being afraid of doing it wrong. Do the work.

Step 10: unpack the books and put them in alpha order in the new shelf.

And with those books, a whole lot of joy.

Because words are my business and books are my first friends and sharing books with my students makes me so happy. 

That bookcase changed everything as far as attitude goes. 

I’ve taken a huge leap and change is crazy scary, but I’m still me, and my new kids will be my kids just like my old kids are still my kids. And this year is going to be hard, so hard, but hard isn’t bad. 

I’ll always bleed black and gold. But adding a little purple to the mix is a good thing. 


*I’m missing so many books. I think I lost a box somewhere. 

*putting old staff photos up on the shelf helped.

*a screw lock or something like that fell off the case. I threw it away because the case seemed fine without it. I hope the case is still standing when I make it back to the newsroom next week.

*standing there and letting fear stop you from moving forward is always the wrong answer.

Sometimes the Browse Button Loses

withinI love to listen to Within Temptation when I’m writing the Guardian books. I read online that the sound is called symphonic metal. That fits. The female power vocals with the metal background work together to create a feeling that fits the Sharlene Gallagher universe…especially when she finds herself in heaven.

In an effort to recreate the feel of the music for a different book, I browsed through Spotify and let it pick music for me.

BIG MISTAKE.

One minute I’m writing along to power vocals and metal guitar and the next some guy is screaming in a voice terrifies the crap out of me.

I stumbled on to Within Temptation through Grooveshark after listening to Angtoria’s What the Wise Woman Said. I’m glad I did because the music has inspired three books so far. I guess I’ll stick to what works for sure instead of looking for something new. ❤

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Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 released this week. Yay!

Release Day Tomorrow!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 releases tomorrow on Amazon kindle. The paperback will be available everywhere books are sold soon. I hope readers will enjoy the third installment in the Sharlene Gallagher mystery series.

I’m starting a new book right now, and it’s sooooo hard to get back into the rhythm of writing new pages. I forget that sometimes. I forget that I have to write and write and revise and write and try different music until the perfect combination hits and then I write a draft Fast Draft style. That draft is nowhere near publishable, but it’s a start, a skeleton of the story that will be.

Earlier this week I read a post by a NYT bestseller that said the key to writing isn’t just writing. He’s right. Becoming a writer is about studying words and word craft. But he’s also wrong. I can study the craft all day long, but if I don’t sit down and write, it won’t make a difference.

I do love craft books. Donald Maass’s books are some of my favorites. Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work is fantastic. The exercises are great for the classroom as well. The Artist’s Way is invaluable to releasing your creative spirit. I worked through The Artist’s Way with friend/colleague/former student Scotty Coppage the summer Sharlene Gallagher showed up on the page one day. The rest is history.

I’m looking forward to an amazing release week and a week of Fast Draft style writing. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll get one tomorrow! If you don’t, you can subscribe here.

 

 

I LOVE Summer

when-someone-tells-me-summer-vacation-is-almost-over_o_2009133

I love my job. I can’t wait to get back to the business of helping my kids create yearbooks and newspapers and videos and learn the ins and outs of professional social media use, and this year I (might) get to do this AWESOME guinea pig class where I use a J approach with English, BUT I still don’t want this summer to end. I know the summer honeymoon will end before we go back. No way will we continue to have the amazing cool mornings AND evenings, no way will we continue to get these great rain storms about once a week. This summer has truly been a blessing. I’m thankful for the days I’ve had, and I’m going to embrace those left.

Happy summer y’all. It’s been a good one.

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Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 by Mary Beth Lee releases July 20. Sharlene Gallagher is back. YAY!

Dead Girl Walking and An Angel Earns Her Wings are available to Amazon Prime members to read for FREE!!!! Check them out. Dead Girl Walking will release in audio soon. I’m listening to the final cuts now! Brenna Frederick is a genius narrator. I can’t wait for the world to hear her interpretation of DGW!

Surround Yourself With Positivity

someonesmilesAt the NTRWA (North Texas Romance Writers) meeting last weekend the speaker reminded us about how important it is to surround yourself with positivity. She talked about how allowing dark presences in our lives can actually affect how we respond.

I’m a FIRM believer in that.

Two years ago I spent most of the school year focused on being positive only. I worked to keep my Facebook posts positive, I blogged about positive issues here, I wrote daily affirmations, I put motivations quotes up around my writing space and my classroom. It made a huge difference in my day and how I responded to kids at work.

I’m going to rededicate myself to the goal of surrounding myself with light and positivity. It’s easy to say in the middle of July. I’m going to focus on my affirmations, though, and when the school year starts, if I start to go negative, I hope my blog followers and friends will say, “HEY, hold up. Where’s your light?”

That doesn’t mean I’ll bury my head in the sand on politics or the war on education. It does mean I’m checking out of the spin zone. My emotions have been in constant turmoil for months because of the spin. I’ll focus on facts, fact finding and helping make positive change. I’ve already unfollowed most of my news feeds. I’ll be sticking to PBS NewsHour and print news for the most part.

In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield says most people complain to the wrong people. They complain to people who can’t fix the problem, which is really just an exercise in frustrated futility. Kind of like trying to fight a war on Facebook. Canfield is so right. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been a room and one person says something negative and another chimes in and then I chime in and before you know it, this little thing that really was No Big Deal has turned into a GIANT PROBLEM. That leads to crazy stress and hurt feelings and all sorts of emotional fallout. So, I’m checking out of that, too.

During my school year of positivity, I tried meditating at lunch and it was a HUGE success. I might try that again, although, I have to say I LOVE eating lunch with history teachers in the upstairs lounge. They have the most fascinating conversations. And it’s good to see grown ups. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. (I bet a history teacher could tell me the origins of that phrase! Or Google…nah. I’m not looking it up.)

I’m ending this post with this goal. My goal this year is to surround myself with positivity, to focus on the light, to use my energy for good. I hope you’ll hold me to it! Especially in August…when it gets tough to follow through and December and March. Yearbook advisers and anyone who has ever worked on their yearbook will understand. 🙂

****For the next 90 days The Guardian books, Dead Girl Walking and An Angel Earns Her Wings are available to check out for free to Amazon Prime members. Angel Eyes will join them on July 20. I hope you’ll look at them, read the blurbs, see if you’re interested. And if you read and like the books, I’d appreciate it if you’d write a short review on Amazon letting other readers know about them. As an indie author, word of mouth is how people learn about my books. Several of the ad sites require a set number of reviews before they’ll let you advertise.

Thanks so much!!

–Mary Beth @marybethleeybnp

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Don’t forget to sign up for my author newsletter here. No spam, just give aways and free reads and new release news!

Angel EyesAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 by Mary Beth Lee releases July 20. Sharlene Gallagher is back. YAY!

 

 

So You Want to Write a Book

TWO WORDS OF ADVICE:

Start. Writing.

Okay, I lied. Two more words of advice:

Start. Reading.

If you’re not reading, you can’t write. If you’re not writing, you’re not writing. It really is that simple.

If you think you don’t have time, you’re wrong.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-11-at-6.44.50-PM-1024x768

 

 

 

 

If you want feedback on your writing, find someone to give it to you. I can, other writers can, your mom can. If you want some guidance, check out local writing groups and books like On Writing by Stephen King.

Just remember, you can want to write all day. You’ve got to DO it for it to count!

*****

legs 1600by2400smallDon’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here. (Giveaways and more!)

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3–Out July 20!!!!

 

Teenagers Do

It’s easy to complain about “kids today.” That’s been the beginning of many a tirade over the centuries. I can imagine the conversation after Jesus stayed back at the temple and Mary and Joseph realized he was gone.

But here’s the deal.

Teenagers today DO. More often than not they give of their time to help others, they encourage others, they want to be more and do more and see more. They are so freaking smart! It sucks big time that they’ve been brought up in this age of standardized testing where they’ve been encouraged to do less and think less by our government, but even though they’ve been conditioned to bubble, they still THINK BIG.

They understand collaboration, and they can multi-task like nobody’s business…not as good as they think but a heck of a lot better than me.

And they do all this in a world where distractions are a constant.

CAMP 1I saw all this at the publication camps I’ve been to with my students this summer. In Dallas my yearbook editors came up with an amazing theme and worked together to bring the idea to life. They did all this while keeping up with the World Cup soccer coverage.

Camp 2Then we went to the second camp last week with newspaper, photographers and other staff and HOLY COW. They scrapped their original idea even though it meant so much more work and created a whole new concept.

I’m so excited to work with this amazing group of kids. I’m excited to see what they do next in life too.

It’s easy to gripe about kids today, but the truth is they haven’t changed. They’re as awesome as always.

*****

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legs 1600by2400smallAngel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 comes out July 20! I can’t wait to hear what readers think!

 

Blink and They’re 24, Living in Ohio

katie 1stWay, way back when I first started writing, about the time this photo was taken of DD, I developed a writing schedule. Back then I never wrote before 9 p.m. when DD went to bed and I’d write until whenever.

When I was student teaching, my amazing cooperating teacher Jan Adams gave me some great advice. She said NEVER take your work home with you and to remember that teaching is a job not your life.

I don’t think it’s possible to truly leave your work at school if you’re a teacher. There’s just too much to do. But it is absolutely essential to remember teaching is a job, and teachers need lives outside of the classroom. If we don’t protect our time with our families and our time for ourselves, we’ll burn out. Burned out teachers are NOT good in the classroom. They can’t be. (This is all EASY, PEASY in the summertime!)

I have to believe my writing has helped keep me from burning out. I have friends who are artists, and I see the same thing there. When they practice their art, they are better teachers. When they cook or redecorate houses or play games or travel, they are better teachers.

I feel confident this is not just a teacher issue. Any job that consumes life is bad news. Writing kept my job from consuming my life. And it helped me remember family first.

Back in those days when DD was little, scheduling time to write was easy.

katie nowNow that she’s 24 and DH and I are empty nesters and DD lives 1300 miles away….

It’s a good thing I ingrained the writing schedule into my brain. Today, I still write more from 9 p.m. until whenever than I do the rest of the day.

I write more unless I’m intentionally taking time off. Time off like last week when DD came to visit. 🙂

*****

legs 1600by2400smallClick here to sign up for my author newsletter! Giveaways, free reads and more!

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 releases July 20!

Dead Girl Walking, The Guardian Book 1 releases in audio this month. More info soon! (I love, love, love the book in audio!!!! I can’t wait to share.)

 

 

 

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 out July 20! Sneak Peek

I can’t wait to hear what readers have to say about Sharlene Gallagher’s new adventure!

Angel Eyes

I look at the doublewide trailer then back to Peter and wonder if this could possibly be real.
“No way.”
Peter squints at me like he can’t believe I think he jokes about this kind of thing, but he doesn’t say a word. Unless it’s sage advice about my Guardian duties, Peter’s pretty tight lipped.
I thought that would change after…another story, another time. Suffice it to say Peter’s my boss, he saved my life and kept me as part of The Guardian. We’re angels. We protect innocents who have somehow gotten sucked onto a path toward death before their time. I’m not supposed to tell my charges I’m their Guardian, but that never seems to work out for me.
I’m a different kind of Guardian. I think I keep Peter on his toes, which is a very good thing.
“Here?” I stumble and nearly fall into a hole in the gravel road big enough to swallow a small car.
Peter doesn’t say anything, and my heart plummets. My last assignment nearly got me killed, but at least I got to live in a mansion. I’m dead already, courtesy of the serial killer who bludgeoned me to death. If I die in the afterlife, there are no third chances.
Peter takes my hand, one of the perks of this job, and we’re inside the trailer, in a room that looks like a million other rooms. Hello Kitty posters fight for wall space with posters of rock bands and Twilight movies. A black nail polish bottle turned over on its side sits on a plastic table near the twin bed that’s covered in a princess bedspread. A child’s colored paper is tacked to the inside of the door. The only thing out of place is a hole in the wall at the back of the room near the small closet.
All I can tell for sure is my new charge is tidy and likes vampires and maybe princesses.
“How long do I have?” I ask, and Peter understands I’m asking how long until I’m corporeal not how long until I either win and save my new charge or death wins and she dies.
“Tonight. In the morning you’ll be moving in next door with your mother.”
My heart twinges. I’m surprised the word still has power over me. I wonder what the word does to him now. After.
I’d met Peter’s mother on my last case. Scary chick with mucho crazy powers. You know those goddess statues at Caesar’s Palace? She’s like one of them. The real deal though, not a statue. And as terrifying as I found her, I think I liked her a bajillion times more than my mother…a woman who had turned her back on her daughter instead of facing the truth of her abusive husband.
I wipe away the bitterness of my human past and the worry over Peter’s sacrifice and try to focus on the case.
“I have a mother this time?” My voice sounds normal. Score one for me.
The smile on Peter’s face should have warned me. I’m still learning the truth about Peter’s tells, though, so I miss it.
Especially since he doesn’t get a chance to say more because the door shakes and a raven haired waif pushes her way inside. Once she crosses into her room, she slams her door shut, throws her book bag on the floor and flops onto the bed.
Her hair is dark as night, obviously bottle black. The ebony polish on her nails is chipped. She’s wearing ripped black leggings, a jean miniskirt, black ankle boots and a red, white and black striped long sleeved shirt. She throws her arm over her face so I can’t see what she looks like other than the fact that she’s tiny.
“Dagan.” A woman’s voice sounds at the door.
“Go away, Mom.” The girl on the bed says.
“Dagan, you can’t just stay in there.”
The girl pulls a pair of headphones from a pocket sewn across the front of her shirt and loses herself in music so loud I can hear it. It sounds more like a bunch of screaming than singing to me, but she seems to like it alright. She doesn’t answer her mother, but she does drop her arm, so I can see her.
Her skin is too pale. The kind of pale from being sick or malnourished or using the wrong color foundation. Her eyes are way too dark from eyeliner that went out of style in the early 80s. When I look beyond the black smudges marring her skin, I see her eyes are actually amazing. Crystal blue almond shaped eyes that seem to war with being too big and perfect at the same time. She’s staring at the ceiling in a way I understand. She’s here in this room, but not really. I wonder where her mind is, where she’s escaped to.
She opens a drawer in the blue plastic table beside her bed and shoves a photo aside to grab a moleskin journal. She stares at the pages blankly for awhile then starts writing furiously. For an hour she pours her heart out on the pages until the words work themselves out. I’ll need to look at that journal. That’s what I’m thinking when she stops writing. But then she takes the pen she’s using and starts stabbing the notebook then drawing dark lines through the words until nothing’s left but a sheet of angry scribbles.
When she throws the journal it hits the wall and bounces back at the same time her feet hit the floor. A few seconds later she’s out the door without a word.
“Should we follow?” I ask completely unsure. I understand pain. I understand anger. But this is something different.
When Peter doesn’t answer, I turn to see what he thinks, but, of course, I’m alone in the room. Peter’s gone.
My charge, my case, my choice.
I start to head out the door but something in the drawer catches my attention. It’s the photo that had been on top of the journal. The frame is cheap, shiny metal. The kind you get at a discount store. The photo inside shows a gap-toothed elementary-aged child with eyes that match Dagan’s. And beside the frame a newspaper clipping. The headline stops me cold. Girl Goes Missing, Foul Play Suspected.
I can’t pick up the paper without Peter. Not until I’m corporeal, but I can read it.
Gentry Miller, 7, missing from a park near her home since Christmas. No witnesses. No clues.
Crap. A missing kid. Why on earth would Peter assign me to this case? I mean, I can help Dagan with her makeover needs and I might be able to help keep her alive, but a missing sister is way out of my newbie Guardian league. We don’t get to choose our assignments though, so I need to get to work.
I start to zap to wherever it is my new charge has disappeared, but I stop when her mother walks into the room. The woman wears the lines of pain around her eyes with a pretty kind of grace. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail. She’s sporting green scrubs with chunky white tennis shoes, and she looks way too young to be the mother of my charge. She sits on Dagan’s bed, runs her hand over the bedspread and bites her lip when she sees the photo in the bedside table. I think maybe she’s going to pull it out of the drawer, but she doesn’t. Instead she closes the drawer, then shuts her eyes and says a small prayer.
Please God, keep her safe. Please, keep her safe.
And I wonder if she means Dagan or the little girl in the photo.

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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