Category Archives: Indie Author

Generation Homelander: Something Needs to Change!

homelandersHomelanders.

That’s what this generation of students is known as. That was the big lesson I learned at yearbook camp this summer.

They’ve never lived without security cameras everywhere. They’ve never known life without a cell phone. Their parents know where they are at all times. Their lives are orchestrated with calendars, every hour planned. Instead of play, they take classes. Even their time at the park is scheduled with play dates. They fear being alone and believe absolutely that evil is out there, and could strike at any minute in school, at the mall, at the movies, while they’re out for a morning run.

They grew up in the US after 9-11. After everything changed. And in an effort to keep them safe, I wonder if we’re not actually making the world a more dangerous place.

One common denominator I’ve heard time and again in discussions with other educators this summer is how many teenagers are on anti-anxiety meds. I’ve taught relaxation techniques to students for years. We can do the 13th floor like nobody’s business and Pilates deep breathing is a must. But this is different. This anxiety can’t be visualized or breathed away.

When we bought my daughter her first cell phone, I was excited. I remembered being a teenager AND I remembered the whole “we’re staying the night with… switcheroo.” With the cell phone that was over. Sort of. With today’s cell phones parents can just look at the GPS to see where their kids are. And they do. Constantly.

A couple of my former foreign exchange students recently posted pictures of their summer European trip. They’re not 18 yet, but they were traveling across the world without a guide or chaperone, just having fun, making memories, learning. When I saw the photos, I was shocked at first. I had a hard time letting my 18-yr-old daughter drive to Dallas. No way would she have gone on holiday around Europe without a parent present. No way. I’ve seen the movie Taken, complete fiction. I’ve watched the Natalee Holloway story again and again on the news, awful truth.

9-11 changed everything. We knew it when it happened, but I don’t think we truly understood. I hope we can change this overarching feeling that the world is evil, that the “bad people, terrorists, killers,” are out to get us. I hope we can find a way to give our kids time to breathe.

We have to. Our kids need a chance to have a new name. Something closer to Generation X and Y. Homelanders can’t be our future. It just can’t.

*******

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can here. I send one a month at the most, so no spam.

Angel Eyes,Angel Eyes 6 The Guardian Book 3 released this week. Yay! And Dead Girl Walking, The Guardian Book 1 is free for the last day. Get your kindle copy now. The DGW audio book will be out soon! I can’t wait to share it with y’all. You Will Love It! ❤

 

 

Kill Them With Kindness

DelTacoGrumpy old Walter came in every day, and every day he ordered the same thing. Del Nachos no tomatoes. He never smiled. Never said think you. Just placed his order, waited for us to call his name and then carried his tray to a table facing outside the store to eat.

Walter didn’t know our names–we didn’t think–but we knew his because calling orders by name was a must.

I loved working at Del Taco, but I Did Not Love grumpy old Walter. I also did not love little kids that made big messes. Or people who came in one minute before close and ordered the whole menu. Or wiping my eyes after chopping jalapenos. Good God that hurt.

Sorry, got sidetracked. Back to Walter…and the kids…and those last minute people out to ruin life as we know it.

Before you could work for Del Taco, you had to train. And training was serious business. You had modules to study and tests to take, and our bosses were intense about those training sessions. To this day I can tell you the history of Del Taco. I can also tell you Del Taco took customer service seriously. Those lessons I learned about kill them with kindness have been life savers over the years. But MAN they were hard to follow through on. At least they were until one day after about six months of Del Nachos with no tomatoes.

Walter shuffled when he walked. And he had silver hair and deep set wrinkles like Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men. And he really liked those Del Nachos.

For some reason I set out to make Walter smile. Maybe my friends and I had a bet or something, I’m not sure. I just know I decided to do everything in my power to get him to like me. Pretty soon all of us were doing it.

Walker would walk in and we’d greet him like an old friend. “Walter!” And then we’d yell back “Del Nachos no tomatoes.”

Then that six month day of reckoning.

A mom with multiple children made a mess around the table next to where Walter sat. And by mess, I mean HOLY FREAKING COW, KIDS, did you eat anything or reenact nuclear war?

So I had the sweeper out on the floor when Walter came in and we all yelled Walter like he was our very best friend. By this time Walter had softened a bit. He still didn’t smile, though.

When his order I came up, I grabbed the tray and took it to him and made sure to tell him how happy we were to see him. To be honest it had kind of become true. Somehow in the effort to trick him into smiling, he’d become a character in the daily life at Del Taco. A character I’d miss if he skipped.

Walter took the tray and Then. He. Spoke. He said thank you.

It was incredible.

It was just the start.

Because once Walter started talking, he didn’t stop.

He explained

Why he came to Del Taco every day.

And ordered Del Nachos.

Without tomatoes.

Turned out Walter liked tomatoes. But his wife didn’t. So they ordered their nachos to share, and he sacrificed the tomatoes for her. And when she died, it was like this one thing would bring her back. If only for a moment.

And then he said thank you again. Because every day he came in and we greeted him with smiles even though he knew sometimes he could be surly.

Walter taught me a lot about life that day.

I use Walter in my classes pretty often to tell kids they never know whose life they’re impacting. I was lucky Walter told me. People don’t always tell you, but rest assured, every person you meet could be a Walter. ❤

*******

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can here. I send one a month at the most, so no spam.

Angel Eyes, The Guardian Book 3 released this week. Yay! And Dead Girl Walking, The Guardian Book 1 is free for one more day. Get your kindle copy now.

 

 

 

 

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. ❤

*******

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can here. I send one a month at the most, so no spam.

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

Woo Hoo! It’s Here!!! Angel Eyes release day!

Angel Eyes releases today. YAY! It is an Amazon e-exclusive for 90 days. If you’re a member of kindle unlimited, you can read it for free, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it for free. If you like paper instead, it’s available here right now and will be available at other retailers soon.

Angel Eyes 11I love how the Sharlene story is evolving. I knew Sharlene would save lives when I started the series. The Guardian save innocents from killers, so that was a given. I even knew there was an angels and demons storyline. I did not realize how big that secondary story would be to Sharlene.

I’ve had a few questions about Addison Karchusky from Dead Girl Walking. She’ll be back in book 4! Yay!

I hope you guys like Angel Eyes. Subscribe to my newsletter for up-to-date news on The Guardian series. And check out The Guardian Pinterest board. Right now the quotes are all from Angel Eyes, but that will change. 🙂

Have an awesome day. I’ll be writing. ❤

 

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.

*************************

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!

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!

The extroverted introvert dilemma

stressI sat in the back of the auditorium, my speech in my notebook, ready to share with the staff what I’d learned about professional learning communities and how they could change everything if teachers were given the time and resources to make them work.

My hands were shaking, I was sweating, I thought about blowing the whole thing off. My friend, our speech teacher at the time, Debbie gave me a thumbs up. Okay. I could do this.

And I did.

And it was amazing.

I was shaking the whole time, but the adrenaline rush was tremendous.  People listened to what I said. Everyone didn’t agree with the outcome I proposed, but everyone appreciated the effort. And they had ideas of their own. Ideas that would lead to student achievement.

(Leadership Cohort changed me, challenged me, made me speak up. First post about those days here.)

But still, over seven years later, I have to force myself to speak up in a room of people. Small groups, no problem. Big groups…gulp.

I’m an extrovert on the inside, an introvert on the outside. It makes for some hilarious self-talk, let me tell you.

I’m working on this. If my inner extravert weren’t trying to come out on a regular basis, I’d wrap my introvert self up in quiet awesomeness. BUT that’s not the way it is. I want to speak up, I want to talk to people…even people I don’t know. So here goes.

Another pledge. I’m going to embrace both sides of myself. But I’m not going to let the introvert win. No more sneaking out of meetings as soon as they’re over without talking to others, no more WANTING to share with the group but keeping my mouth shut because I’m nervous.

This is turning into a July of pledges for me. Good thing I’ve got The Success Principles to help me succeed! ❤

********

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!

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. It’s soooooo good y’all!!!! I can’t wait to share!

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

**********

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!

 

 

Proud Day Memory

College graduationThis is the one picture I have of college graduation in 1993. DH took it. I was sick as a dog, but at the time I thought I had a little headache. Turned out a tiny bit more that that. My one and only experience with strep that I can remember, and I’d put it up there with swine flu. (If you’ve followed this blog, you know I got that experience in 2009. Ugh.)

That little girl in my arms and the man taking the photo were the two biggest reasons I have degrees today.  The little girl was my daily inspiration to go to school, do the work and get done. ❤

Family reunionThe man taking the photo was my biggest cheerleader, motivator, calm in the storm ROCK.

(This is us in May this year. 21 years after my first MSU graduation. 15 after my second.)

It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

If you’re struggling right now with school or a career path, find a rock and an inspiration. If you don’t have one, use the comments here and let me be your rock. It’s easy to not go. School is expensive. It’s HARD. It seems so pointless to take classes like Zoology and Botany and College Algebra when what you want to do is teach journalism. But that degree is as much about persistence as it is about learning the content. And if school isn’t your path, that’s okay, too. But only if you have a path, a plan, a goal to a successful life. Research shows college graduates earn more over a lifetime, but college is definitely not the only answer. Find someone who successfully does what you want to do and ask the how to get there. People are incredibly helpful, but you’ve got to ask.

If you want to know about advising student media or writing, I can answer questions. I know there are others out there willing to help.

Whatever you do, don’t choose to let life live you. YOU LIVE LIFE. If you don’t know the difference, feel free to ask. I’ll explain. 🙂

*****

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

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

 

 

 

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!!!!