Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Wrap Up/Christmas Newsletter

Merry Christmas, friends and family!

It's been an amazing year. I'm so grateful for the many blessings this year has brought our family. I can only hope that we deserve another year like this one.
We had a white Christmas this year. Let it snow!

Top ten moments (But not necessarily ranked in this order. All of these moments were pretty awesome.)

10. We vacationed in southern Utah near Grand Escalante. The trip included a 6-mile hike to Calf Creek Falls with a 4yo on my back. Seriously. Read the post.

Gavin on a hike with his best friend's family.

9. Color Festival in Spanish Fork, i.e. Allergy Hell.
And the front page article I wrote for it.


& Teaching a Writer's Camp at BYU

7. Cole got into grad school!  This post isn't really about that, but it's fun nonetheless.
Invent a caption for this pic in the comments.

6. I participated in NaNoWriMo and nailed it! What! Fist Bump.

5. Elayna's baptism
Gavin and Elayna (*cough* and a batarang) celebrating their commitment to the Lord.

4. I Ran from and for depression in my first ever 10K!

3. Disney World twice. Click on links for posts on these.


2. Birthday Fun even if I was a total witch.
Get it. hahaha. Witch.

1. Coolest family pics in the whole stinkin' world. And our photographer's website.

Love you guys! 
Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why my kids are cooler than yours...

 Cases in point:


Every time I pick my 4yo son up from the babysitter after work, I ask him if he had fun. He always responds with a yes, but follows it with something awful that happened--usually made-up. It's his way of letting me know that he's not happy with the babysitting situation, that he'd much rather be watching Sonic the Hedgehog on the iPad at home than playing with his best friend, Aiden (who is the babysitter's son). Note that I only work part-time so he only goes there a couple times a week, and when he does he plays all day.)

Yesterday, as we are driving away from the babysitter's house...

Me:  Did you have a good time?

Gavin: Yes...but...Aiden punched me in the face.

Me: Oh really. He punched you in the face, huh? You know I can ask his mom if that is true.

Gavin: No. Don't ask her. Or I will punch you in the face.
Gavin and Aiden.


Since Gavin started watching Sonic the Hedgehog, he's taken to rolling instead of walking from place to place about the house. And ever since Cole made him a pair of Wolverine claws out of cardboard and duct tape, he's like a predatory booby-trap from Indian Jones. It's problematic for our ankles.

The claws aren't sharp, but when Gavin's rolling at 15 mph, and they swipe your ankles, you're going to have a triad of marks.

Snuggling up to grampa Twain. Ol' Twain was a little turned off by Gavin's breath.
(Sidebar: They were cats in another life.)

I made two dozen muffins the other day, and I went upstairs while they were cooling. When I came downstairs later to put them away, a whole dozen had disappeared.

Me: Did you guys eat a whole pan of muffins?!

Gavin: [flopping to the floor] It was an accident!

SNL style and a spoiler to our upcoming family photos

Layne, my eight-year-old is always my date to wedding receptions. She loves them, and I love to bring her, because, unlike Gavin, she has a semblance of class in situations like that.

This is what Gavin wanted to wear to the reception. I snuck out.
Batman lounging like a boss.

The last reception I went to was for a former student, Kelci. Upon greeting the bridal party, Kelci pointed out the photo wall. There were photos of Kelci and her new husband leading all the way up to and including their courtship. Kelci told us that her mom put the display together and joked that we could even see a picture of her as a pantless toddler. I laughed and Layne and I went over to the wall. We looked at it for a while, signed the register book, and then I led Elayna over to one of the empty tables in a room full of guests.

I got about twenty yards away when I realized Layne wasn't following. I found her still staring at the photos.

Me: Layne. [I motioned for her to follow me.]


Me: [Peeing from laughing so hard.]

Kelci, me, and my sophisticated daughter. We all kinda rock.


Here are the kids after Layne's baptism. 
 Getting ready to take the photo above...

Me: Gavin do you have to hold your batarang in the picture? Can't you put it behind Elayna's back?

Gavin: You're not the boss of me. Jesus is.

The batarang made a cameo. Jesus wins again.
How can you not love a face like that? She should audition for America's Next Top Model in a couple years, but turn them down when her Doogie Howser's smarts get her into Harvard as a ten year old. What? It could happen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Astronauts & Heartbreak

The connection between astronauts and heartbreak is understandable.

Watching Apollo 13 
On an orange tweed couch.
A doily itches the back of my shoulder.
His warm arm squeezes my waist.
I am safe.

He sighs.
His cologne, an ocean musk,
Hugs my senses.
But the smell of stale potpourri 
In a glass bowl
Overpowers his scent. 

On screen, in the metal capsule,
Alarm bells ring.
Red lights blink
A slow pulse.

It will work out, right?
Tom Hanks will save the shuttle, I think.
Save it from drifting
Into nothiness,
A sea of stars
And no wind for the sails.

On screen, the rhythmic beat of hope
To a minor chord.
Astronauts exchange looks of despair
Sweat trickles down an astronaut's chin.
A chill traces my spine.
My tongue is dry.

The astronauts won't make it, I realize.
They'll be lost faces
And dates
In the span of history.
Just like he and I.
Two years swallowed by
a vast universe.

The connection between astronauts and heartbreak is understandable.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 Goals

I'm formally participating in National November Writing Month this year! Since the journey begins on the 1st (Thursday. THURSDAY! AHHHHH!) I need to post my goals for the month.
NaNoWriMo is like a magic carpet ride. You get to explore "a whole new world" in chaffing working conditions.

Book: Weight Loss Memoir (see my other blog for that info.)

Goal: Write 50,000 words

Already achieved: 10, 217 words and plot has been mapped.

Days to write in November (minus Sundays and Thanksgiving): 25

Words I'll have to write per day in order to reach 50K: 1,592

[Deep breath.]
Wish me luck.
'Bout to tear this motha up. [Sidebar: don't you think Wolverine should make me look petite and dainty? I'm bigger than this dude. Kinda ruins the fantasy. (wink)]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I found Found Poetry.

What is Found Poetry?

This video will help explain it:

Or here's a pinterest page link with awesome examples:

After doing this activity in a CUWP training session, here's the poem I wrote from a page in a book:

The Worst Wrong Turn

A monster in the dark
His reptilian smile
Luring me.

"I love you," he said. 
I shivered. 
Head sailing.

"Lie in a hammock," he bubbled.
"Stay forever."
I rocked.
My head a smoking volcano,

He killed me. 
After midnight.
The worst wrong turn. 

And here's the one that I wrote from words on a lotion bottle:


Deeply conditioned
And fortified with
Protective extract.

With a twist of 
Cool vanilla.

I love this activity. I wish I came up with it myself.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


You will bare scars like lightning bolts on your womb and heart.
You will soak a pink "Women of Steel" t- shirt with your tears.
What you love will sculpt regret.
What you hate will entrance you like Pavlov's chime.
What ignites the flame smothers the light.
What bleeds from the pen bandages the wounds.
If this be your candle, inhale the smoke; let it singe your throat and eyes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

5 Best Things About Me

(Teachers, this is a sample prompt for setting up Scribble routines and to help you get to know your students.)

#1 I'm a nerd.
It's true. I like nerdy things and I'm not afraid to tell the world. I live in Whedonverse and am Whovian. (Not into Harry Potter though.) I read graphic novels. Neil Gaiman is arguably the best writer in America (ironically, he's British). I'm straight-up nerdy. I bleed Tardis blue and I prefer vampires who "help the helpless", not the glittery kind.

#2 I'm a writer. I heart writing, and even though I've had more failures than successes in the publishing world, my confidence never wavers. Besides Stephen King had so many rejection letters that he had to hold them on a bulletin with a railroad spike.

#3 I can still do a back flip on the trampoline. Seriously. I can. I'm in my 30s and can do that! Take that Old Age! I can also still do a back bend but not a back bend walk-over. [sigh].

#4 I can cook.
This is new actually. I didn't used to be able to cook well. I could do the usual: pancakes, cookies, burnt mac & cheese. BUT NOW, I actually own seasonings beyond oregano, and I know what works together. I made dry-rub crock pot chicken yesterday that my kids actually liked.

Not cooked yet, but this is the dry rub.

#5 - my feet. I think they rock.

"Foot-five" with Gavin =)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Another CUWP haiku

(This is a good idea for getting-to-know you activities at the beginning of the school year. Have students write a haiku that introduces themselves. Syllables: 5,7,5.)


Mom, teacher, runner,
Word Bleeder, and stress eater.
Thy name is Rena.

After running my 1st 10K with my friends Trevor and Kristin! I came in 4th in my age division. =)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A conversation with one of my favorite authors: Meg Wolitzer

Rena Says:

I need some words of encouragement, if you have a sec. I’m trying to write a story for a competition, and as the deadline nears, my insecurities douse my passion and confidence. I’ve been re-reading The Ten-Year Nap for inspiration (even better the second time, btw).

One of my favorite lines–for there are many dog-eared pages and highlighted chunks with crayon or pen, whatever I have on hand–is “is there some logical connection between handling silverware and possessing ovaries?”

This line, the whole conversation it is nestled into could be a snippet of my main character’s naive and regular daily life. And it makes me wonder, how can I ever capture the universal struggles of everyday women the way you do it, so succintly and condensed into the moments that define us.

How do you do it?
The devil? Do you still have his business card?

But seriously, did you ever have insecurities like this? How did you slay them?

Dear Rena,

I just now saw your note. Thank you for your kind words. As for me and the devil and his business card… I guess I would say to you what I say to my students: I think if you marinate in something long enough, you realize what it is you really want to write. And the feeling of “wanting” to write something probably comes unconsciously from already knowing that you have a bit of something to say about that thing. Perhaps it might be helpful not to think in the broadest terms (universal struggles of women) but to think of one particular woman’s struggle, and have the faith that she is not so freakish that other women don’t share some of her concerns. Start with particulars. Who is she and why is she the way she is? The critic Laura Miller said that of the novels she’s read, the ones she remembers most seem to have something in common: someone wants something and does something.

As for insecurities, of course, of course. I don’t know that they’re ever slain, but they’re simply ridden over and perhaps eventually flattened like roadkill, through lots and lots of work and many drafts. I wish you good luck with your work and this contest. Write as fully and strongly as you can. I often feel: if not now, when?

All best,

Meg W

Thanks, Meg. Couldn't have come at a more perfect hour. =) 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Emotional writing

Have you ever had a story to write down that was painful to get out? Like really painful? So painful your chest turns into a black hole?

A story that made you sob as you typed?

A story that made you wonder about your own mental health?


It's been one of those days.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why do you write?

I write to make sense of things that I don't understand.

Some human behaviors are confusing to me. I don't understand why people do the things that they do, and I figure it out by creating characters who realistically would do these things.

I don't understand cheaters, gamblers, drug abusers.

I don't get why people would join a cult or drink the poison punch.

I don't get the teenage kid who threw a frozen turkey off a bridge and into the windshield of a car. The driver had to have major surgeries for months to reconstruct basic facial features and bodily functions, and I don't get how the victim can forgive that teenager. Especially knowing the teen purchased the turkey on a stolen credit card. I don't get it. I'm incensed for the driver.

But my characters would figure it out.
They get it. They live it.

Why do you write? 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WIFYR: I need a brown paper bag, but not for booze. For hyperventilating.

You know that episode of Grey's Anatomy when the writer eats his manuscript? He worked on it for TEN years and decided it was crap. The only place he felt that it belonged was a in a big pile of poo. Literally. So he ate it.

The manuscript never, er, passed. It got stuck inside of him and even after the doctors surgically removed the baseball-sized mass, the paper gave him mercury poisoning.

I think I know how that guy feels.

Today at WIFYR, I had my manuscript critiqued in front 15 peer writers. The group is made up of varying levels of advanced, but not yet highly successful writers (I cannot even begin to guess where I am on the awesome writer scale, but I suspect...very low.) + our VERY SUCCESSFUL teacher.  As a whole, they are extremely cool and knowledgeable. They gave me a lot to think about, excellent feedback, and a clear direction to go at this point. I am hopeful that I will be able to make these changes and graduate into a class of writer that I aspire to.

However, after looking at all of their comments and listening to their suggestions, I am overwhelmed. There is so much to do. 

Revise the diction.
Tighten the VP.
Cut the prologue.
Add more characterization.
Make it more suspenseful.
Cut the adjectives.
Cut the adverbs.
Change the taglines.

Don't get me wrong, the advice is STELLAR. I plan on using it all. I know it will better my manuscript, but...will I ever be able to do it all? Will it be enough?

I guess I'm pretty insecure about my words when it comes down to it, and that makes me wanna get a chiropractic alignment, lay down, and binge eat custard-filled donuts until I'm diabetic.

But like our teacher, Carol Lynch Williams, says, "if you never submit, you'll never get published". And so here I am, pushing forward when my future is as hopeful and terrifying as a blank page.

But the thing is, even though I came home feeling stressed about all the work, I found myself at my computer a few hours later...


[Stay tuned for what I learned about first lines and how Matt Kirby and I are BFFs now.]

Monday, June 4, 2012

"I wanna be sedated": a memoir of Cole's first steriod injection

You know how you take your husband to this ritzy place in the Riverwoods and he comes out high and calls all of his friends to tell them that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are "killing people because of the diabetes"?

I do.

This morning I took Cole to the Spinal Intervention clinic (which despite what you may think is not a place where the family, extended family, friends and Chuck, the Hollywood video store manager--who has been out of a job for a while but who Cole would consider family--gather together to read heart-felt letters to Cole about his abuse of his spine. How if I had to find him sneaking Chiropractic visits in the middle of the night one more time, it will destroy the whole family. And he has to make a choice right now: Either your spine or your family! And all the women are sobbing and all the men are stoic, but have moisture in their eyes. And the children are like, "Can I play Angry Birds on your phone, Mom?" It's not like that kind of intervention.)

We should've expected it to be a bizarre trip from the moment we stepped on the elevator and had to hold the button down just to get it to move up two floors. (I did say "ritzy" earlier. You don't have to double-check.) Then, when we realized that the procedural room was one floor down, Cole was ready to take the stairs even though the reason we were there in the first place is b/c he has two herniated discs in his lower back. The pain is so intense it sometimes makes his legs give out from under him, but he wanted to limp down the stairs one floor to his fraking spinal treatment appointment because of that shady elevator. Since he was already anxious about being lanced in the back with an epidural-sized needle, I refrained from making any references to the scary haunted elevator from The Shining.

When we came into the right office, Cole's anxiety had already begun to interfere with the "Appropriate Human Interactions" part of his brain, so when the receptionist, an exotic brunette with fake lashes, handed him a stack of paperwork, he had no qualms about pointing out that he already filled out paperwork on line. And by "pointing out" I mean scowling and baring his teeth at her. This was additional paperwork, she assured him, and he Oscar-the-Grouched all the way back to his chair.

I plopped down on the couch next to an old man in a Bass Pro cap, who snored not-very-softly, and read The Bloggess's book, though I was slightly distracted by Rachel Ray make Greek turkey rub. (She wasn't actually in the doctor's office. TV, peeps.)

So then a nurse brings out this sweet old lady with I-kid-you-not Dorthy's ruby red slippers. She had dark brown hair too, though a surprising lack of flying monkeys. She comes out with the male nurse, he's propping her up and asking if she needs help to the car, and she's all, "No. I'll just hang on to his good arm." And they both laugh hardily. But I don't have enough context clues to follow the joke, until I look over at Sleeping Dude, who has just opened his eyes and gets up to help his little wife. That's when I notice he only has ONE ARM. The woman is clearly high from the sedation, and continues to make jokes about how her husband has a nice purse, because he was holding it for her while she was getting jabbed in the back with a needle, and that's what awesome husbands do. He was like the Scarecrow to her Dorthy.

They leave and I look at Cole and I don't know what he was thinking, but I was thinking How the hell did I not realize I was sitting next to a one-armed man? I wrote a whole book about a one-armed kid. Then I congratulated myself on not-noticing his missing limb, because that has to be the equivalent of not-noticing someone's race, right? I'm not a limb-ist. And then I started chuckling at how stupid I am, that it started to get out of control. It was borderline faux pas, because I was sure the receptionist assumed I was laughing AT his missing limb, which was so not the case. But anymore laughing and it would've totally cancelled out my awesome oversight blind-eye to his disability.

Then Cole started laughing too, but I'm pretty sure he was just psyched to get sedated, and suddenly that Ramones song made a cameo in my train of thought. And then Spike. And Buffy.

During the procedure, I went back out to the waiting room and held his MRIs, because Cole doesn't have a purse. And about five minutes later, they called me back to help him schedule a follow-up appointment. And he's high and raving about this other male nurses' Nikes and the grape juice they gave him after.

Once he's pretty much told the first male nurse that his "dumb-ass shoes" won't get him any dates and announces to a random man in the elevator that his "ass hurts really bad", we make it out to the van. On the way home he tries to roll the window down several times, because he has some sage advice for all the pedestrians and other people in his eye-line. For one cyclist, Cole's advice was, "Hey biker. Ride your bike some more." Awesome.

At some point he decided he needed to call everyone he knew to tell them about the Reese's epidemic and how it kills people with diabetes. I let him call a few people, (You're welcome) but then I took his phone, cuz I figured this was kinda like that rule I heard about not texting or phoning people while drunk. After he "spread the word of Reese's", he insisted that "morphyism" was a word and it meant "a word that stands for something else", and that as an English teacher, I should know that, duh. It took me 6 blocks to realize he was trying to say "euphemism".

He's back at home. Reese's haven't caused the Rapture. And he's back to Oscar the Grouch.
But it sure was fun for a few hours.

And if you're really lucky, he'll post the video of himself on facebook.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm going for the gold...

After taking your advice on following my heart, I've started writing the piece for the contest I told you in my last post. It was a challenging decision. I felt passionate about both, so I really had to listen to myself before going for it. I'm so glad I chose to attempt the contest. The piece I'm writing has been therapeutic. It's still so raw that I'm not sure if it's worth $2 much less $10,000. Did I tell you that's how much the prize is for? Yep. Ten grand.

There are some of you out there who are shaking your head at me. You're thinking, "Aren't you setting your dreams a little high?" And on some level I agree with you. My writing insecurities tend are debilitating at times, but let me respond to my inner criticism with a meme:

That said, I'm going back to the office to get some more work done.
Never give up, yo.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writer's Exhaustion

After I finished my submission for the WIFYR conference and the April A to Z Challenge, I took a break from writing. I only intended to take a week long breather, but one week turned to two. Two turned to three, and now it's almost the end of May. I must've been more exhausted than I thought.

Today, I'm picking up the WIP again.

or will I?

I heard about another competition with a huge monetary prize. I might wanna submit to it. I meet the requirements, and I think I'm talented enough for it. I hate to abandon the weight loss memoir for another competition, especially since I was doing so well prior to the submission deadline, but this new one is worth a LOT of money. And anyone who is a writer knows that money is muy importante. And anyone who knows me knows money is scarce and therefore muy muy importante.

It could be worth it.


Friday, May 11, 2012


photo credit:
Hey writer friends with kids,

Are you looking for a day camp for your teen writer? I know of a really good one this June.

It will include daily writing, sharing, publication opportunities, and lessons (from professional writers) that are built around the specific requests by the teen writers.

It's gonna be epic. Check it out. There are also courses available for a younger crowd.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Zapatos: My Favorite Spanish Word

One time, I had a dream in Spanish. I am not fluent in Spanish so my subconscious adapted by putting the setting in a grocery store where I narrated my shopping experience.

"Naranjas" [holds orange, puts orange in cart.]
"lechuga" [holds head of lettuce or milk. I can't remember what this word means. Puts item in cart.]
"frejolas negros. [holds can of black beans. Puts item in cart.]

Who the hell knows what I was going to make for dinner in dreamland.

Pics of my new Zapatos...(That does mean shoes, right? heh. heh.)
How summery are these?!
Cute, eh?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"You make the rain clouds disappear..." and my obsession with Weezer

Weezer is by far my favorite band. I could've done this entire A to Z challenge with topics solely revolving around my obsession love for Weezer.
A Sampling? you ask.

photo credit:
A - AOL Sessions with Weezer
B - B.o.B. featuring Rivers Cuomo in "Magic". This is the best song for working out.
C- Cruise, the Weezer Cruise. They had one last January. I couldn't afford to go. =(
F - Fonz, featured in the Buddy Holly video "Exactamundo"
G - Green Album. This is the show I saw live back in 2001. Along with Aquabats, it was the best show ever. Of course, I'm biased.
H - "Holiday" - A Christmas song just for nerd rock lovers.
I - "I'm a creep." - Cover to Radiohead's "Creep". Brilliant.
K - "King"
L - Lost cast member, Hurley, is the cover art for their album Hurley.
P - "Pink Triangle" - For those awkward moments when you discover you were hitting on someone who isn't into because of your sex.
R - Rivers Cuomo. I heart him. How could you not love that the rippling nerd muscles on that guy. And those glasses! Yum. (None of that was sarcasm. Swearzies.)
S - Snuggies. Weezer has their own Snuggies. Awesome.
U - "Undone". Really, do I have to explain the epic-ness of that song?
W -

Anyway, back to my point. My all time favorite Weezer song is "Miss Sweeney". And I even wrote this poem in Miss Sweeney POV. To maximize your Weezperience (see what I did there? hehehe), click on the youtube link, then read the poem as the song plays. Note that the white words are the song's lyrics and the red words are my additions.


Bzzz... Bzzz...
Hi, Hello, Miss Sweeney?
Could you please come in my office for a second?
Wearing heels and my Navy business suit.
A touch of crimson lip gloss. 
Push back my glasses, then enter your office. 
I'm heading home for the day
And I thought it would be good for you and me to check in
I met with the gal from Expo
And they do have the "slab" cabinets in white
She thinks we can take the measurements
Down at the site
If we do that, we'll be just fine, Miss Sweeney
Nod. Twice.
Tuck a loose chunk of hair behind my ear.
Look up over my notes.
A half smile.

That's all I've got to say to you at this time, Miss Sweeney.
Actually there's one other thing on my mind
Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear 
You're gripping my shoulders.
My legs wobble, like licorice whips.
The sun always shines when you're near
Heart palpitations.
Breath on my cheek.
I'm waiting until you love me
You release me.You look away, fists clenched.
Longing pierces my core.
I'm so sorry Miss Sweeney
I don't know where that came from
I think I was overcome by a spontaneous emotion
“I want…”
Don’t speak. Don’t say it.

Anyway, the cash deposit of $5, 000 will need to be sent to the property owner tomorrow
If there are any problems with the deposit or contract
The fire flickers. Threatens to extinguish.

Don't be afraid to holler
I don't want to have to approve each stinking dollar
That we borrow
Aww forget it, Miss Sweeney
You, you make the rain clouds disappear 
 In your arms again.
Enveloped by your hands.
The sun always shines when you're near
Body pressed to body.
I'm waiting until you love me

I love you.
Miss Sweeney, I got to admit the truth
I am totally head over heels in love with you
Every day you come to the office looking fine
Navy business suit clinging tightly to your spine
“Your laugh. The light in your eyes. In your smile...”

You ask me if I'm ready to get down to work
Sweeney, baby, I'm ready... be my...

Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear
The sun always shines when you're near
I'm waiting until you love me
Girl, you light the skies of my life
I swear I will make you my wife
I'm waiting until you 
“I love you.”
love me

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for Marx

Marx is one of the main characters in the YA fiction I'm writing. He is partnered up with the VP character, Suavez.

Suavez and Marx are two high school freshmen who have very different backgrounds: Suavez is a Mexican/American charmer, and Marx is a self-absorbed emo kid. The two have been best friends for years, brought together for the passion for movies, TV, and games. Marx even has his own version of Gaming.

Nothing can come between them. Or at least nothing did, until, as part of a Game, they started investigating the missing puzzle piece behind a tragic school shooting that took place 2 years earlier. Suddenly the Game becomes life or death.

This isn't my query pitch. Just a start. Consider it practice.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I'm going to the Writer's and Illustrators for Young Readers conference this summer. It's a week long intense workshop where I'll get to work closely with published authors and meet other local writers.

I even entered their scholarship contest with the first twenty pages of my YA novel about two high school boys who use cunning and genius to solve the last remaining mystery behind a Columbine-type shooting at their school. Title: Saving Suavez.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vampire: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I'm a huge Buffy fan. I heart it so much that I watch it every summer. All seven seasons. Mostly while doing laundry and blogging.

I'm not so much a Twilight fan.

That said...

The Twilight Generation's opinion of Buffy:
What? This is a show about vampires? What's with all the dialogue?

 (I made it into a meme on, but it wouldn't let me save it. WTW, memer?!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unburden me here

The sheep herself is hoarse
That bleats the sealed gates of St. Peter
Above my battleground. Come, Holy Spirit
That tends to mortal hearts, unburden me here,
And fill me from the halo to the pedicure
Of warmest serenity!

[modified from Lady Macbeth's speech from Macbeth]

Monday, April 23, 2012

Too Many Genres?

I'm a chameleon writer.

I write articles for the paper.
I'm writing a weight loss memoir.
I have a YA fiction novel out on a Kindle.
I even finished a couple religious fiction manuscripts.
And I'm an editor and a blogger too.

My writer friend, Angie, and I. We're both writing memoirs.
I just can't stick to one thing.

I know which one I think is my favorite and the one I excel at, but does saying it out loud then make it suddenly the only genre I can write in?

Authors are always telling us to stick to a genre and stop branching out, b/c you'll lose your audience. I get the logic behind that statement, but I want to be able to write in different genres.

What do you think? Can a writer get away with writing in a lot of different genres?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Spector, Prose-Spector.

A text msg conversation between my husband, who--a little background--has severe anxiety and believes in ghosts.

COLE: Doing OK?

ME: Yes. Well mostly. I sort of died.

COLE: What? Are you OK? Do I need to come home??

ME: No no. It's fine. The kids got it covered. They're digging my grave. [I text him a picture of the kids digging with shovels in the garden.] But you might wanna bring home some toilet paper. We're almost out.

ME: For them. Not me. Heh. What would I do with TP? There's no crappers in the afterlife.

COLE: Is your sister there? You really OK?

ME: Sure. I'll probably stick around to haunt you for a while. I mean the kids will need reminders to brush their teeth. What do you think, the words in a foggy mirror trick?

ME: Chris isn't here, but if you want I can pop over and haunt her too. I'll take Gavin's fishy blanket to cover my head. Then it won't be so scary for her.

[20 min. later]

ME: Are you driving home to make sure I'm not really dead?

COLE: No. Sounds like you're on drugs.

ME: Can I get a leopard print-lined coffin? And I wanna be buried with my Weezer albums.

COLE: This is not funny anymore.

ME: See you later, party pooper. = /

See if I haunt you when I really die. No way. I'm hauling my ethereal ass around to find out what really happened to JFK ...And a quick stop at Sylvia Plath's. I've got a few questions for her.

But I was serious about the toilet paper.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Read My Manuscript Or I'll Cut You" and REDBOOK

"Read My Manuscript Or I'll Cut You" is the name of my critique blog.

Several of my writing buddies and I got together and started one. We post work and comment. It's pretty valuable. I know some writers hate these forums, but I rather like it. I appreciate their honesty, and I think we've got some pretty great writers in the making.

How do you feel about critique groups?

Also, my other blog was featured in REDBOOK almost a year ago. True story. It's cuz I lost a lot of weight.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick poem for ya about the frustrations of being unpublished.

Originally published last fall. 

When she spears me with an you're-an-idiot look over the rims of her glasses,
and I end up at home hours later,
Frowning naked in the mirror while finishing off a bag of peanut m&ms, 
My chocolate fingerprints evidence for a diet forensic pathologist,
I slide to the bottom of the tub,
Let the water rain down on my convulsing body to bathe my tears.
Yet, the pain remains and now I have a stuffy nose.
Then, mentally, I finger my goals, 
 My dreams deferred and I curse aloud. 

Damn! Flannery O'Connor and her Southern genius on the human condition.
Damn! Meg Wolitzer and her Jewish feminist brilliance.
Damn! Damn! Damn! Stephenie Meyer for being a fluke success.

Buried beneath the weight of words;
I take heart, wipe away black tears, 
Kiss my daughter, the next generation feminist;
A Buffy...not a Bella.
A Buffy battling the Bella's of the world.
A roundhouse kick to her pining female foil.
An uppercut to Her male-dependent prose.
Because my daughter deserves an example of me. 
She needs to know how to defeat the enemy,
And stake inferiority,
While wearing stylish shoes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Postest with the Mostest

Hey, A to Zers.
This blog post, originally posted last summer, has had more than 850 hits. It's a record for my little blog, and I'm not sure why. You tell me.

Original title:

Top 5 reasons you shouldn't judge me, and sometimes why you should...

(Spoiler alert: Beware of Guacamole loogies and leather-clad push-overs)
  1.  I like America’s Next Top Model, but mostly because the industry fascinates me. I know that many models have eating problems—once I heard a common trick they use is swallowing an orange juice soaked cotton ball, which, if you could get past the idea of eating a cotton ball soaked in citrus, it allegedly curbs the appetite for days. Seeing these on the big screen is sickly captivating. And even though it’s been preached to me in a million ways that the models “don’t really look like that”, seeing models with dark circles under their eyes and snaggle teeth still has shock value to me. I’m like “Whoa. They really don’t look ‘beautiful’ all the time.” Maybe you should judge me based on how naïve I am.
  2. I hate Harry Potter. The predictability makes me crazy. I read the first few books back in my early 20’s and I remember being on the last page of book four and thinking, I just read the same book 4 times, such is the cookie cutterness of HP. Everyone assures me that book 5 will change my perspective, that the story really kicks off there, but I’m am too jaded at this point. So my HP prose-spective remains unimpressed. However, I fully support my students’ obsession with YA literature. I say “Go for it. I don’t really care what you read, as long as you’re reading.” 
  3.  I wear ridiculously tall heels. I do. I wear heels so tall that when I walk down the stairs, I have to grip the handrail with white knuckles and take the staircase one step at a time.  Heels aren’t always comfortable, but I have new legs. I used to be 60 70 lbs heavier and now I have new athletic, limber legs which deserve to be put celebrated. I’m proud of them. You don’t put your wedding photos in a shoe box or a trophy in a closet, do you? No, you put your pics up on the wall in a fancy frame and your trophies in a display case or the mantel. Legs = trophy. Shoes = mantel. 
  4.  The lyrics may be catchy, clothes retro, and sideburns of one John Travolta dreamy, but Grease is a feminist nightmare. Sandy is glorified for changing her core beliefs for a man and mistakes sexual dominance for independence. In the beginning, the audience traipses through the film witnessing Sandy stand her ground about her beliefs and refusing to change for her summer love, Danny. Perhaps this doesn’t serve the sexual revolution, but as a feminist, I was proud of Sandy’s resolve all the way until the final scene; the scene in which Sandy transforms herself…for a man. It’s not as if she swapped out bad habits for good, which might be an acceptable transformation even if it was for a man, but no. Sandy demoralizes herself into a sex kitten with a smoking habit to appease Danny’s burning loins. You can tell by the way he devours her with his eyes while crooning:
I got chills.
They're multiplyin'.
And I'm losin' control.
'Cause the power
you're supplyin',
it's electrifyin'!

What power is Danny referring to? The tangible sexual vibe Sandy now emanates with sewn-on leather pants and an off the shoulder top? Even if Danny and Sandy’s relationship did result in a marriage, an institution that should foster equality, Sandy submissively caved at the pleading, manipulation, and peer pressure of her “friends” and boyfriend. The foundation of that hypothetical marriage would be built on Danny’s ideal of “if I push you the right way, I’ll get what I want. And what I want is you to be sexually appealing at all times”. Sex shouldn’t be the compass with which women use to navigate through life. It can be harbor on the journey (that’s up to you), but not the very compass. I suppose if I could change one thing about Sandy’s character, it would be that I wanted to see her voice become more powerful. I wanted her to be dynamic by breaking up with Danny, rattling off a Martin Luther King Jr. type speech on the acceptance of differences to Rizzo (maybe throw in some startling statistics about STD’s and a visual presentation of genital warts), and then removing herself from the toxic situation. Sandy could’ve been the epitome of an independent woman. Instead, she morphed into a sexual icon who will not be remembered for her hard work, intellect, aspirations, and sincerity. Sandy is remembered for her sexual prowess.   

5. I hate guacamole. It’s deceptive. It starts out a pleasant green, the kind of green that if it were craft paint it might be called, “baby cartoon frog”, but if you leave it out for a Mexican minute (this is a new term I invented that means for a short period of time. I don’t mean this derogatorily. It only refers to the way the Spanish language is quick and fluid to the ear…eh? Eh?) it turns into swamp monster green. And the texture! Guacamole slides across the tongue like a chunky loogie, invoking an involuntary retch. So next time you buy me Mexican food, order extra sour cream and no guac.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh crap! I don't have a "O" post...

Internet! Help me. I don't have a "O" post.

Here's a "finish that sentence" exercise that I just invented.

Type in the letter "O" + the first letter in your first name into a Google search box. Then, whatever word or phrase pops up first (or go by most interesting), finish the sentence. Repeat with subsequent letters in your name.

Here we go...

O + R = "Originally OJ Simpson was known for" football and buying expensive custom made shoes. Size 12.

O + E =  "the shot heard around the world poem" didn't resonate with my students. =(

O + N = "quotes on teaching stress" are numerous. My personal favorite is...

 "A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary." ~Thomas Carruthers

I love it, because I'm all about the gradual release of responsibility.

O + A =  "toast master bread machine kneading parts" are only about $19, but I have yet to purchase a new one for my bread machine. I keep forgetting. I think my son or my husband accidentally threw it in the trash with a loaf of bread that didn't turn out very good. Maybe they're trying to tell me that my cooking sucks even when a machine does it for me. Hmm...Either way, I'll need to get one soon, we live off of homemade bread at the end of the month. ('Cause there's no money for store bought.)

There you have it. A fun little game for you if you don't have an "O" post or any letter post.

What was the  most interesting letter in your name when you combined it with "O" for the Google exercise?

Monday, April 16, 2012

nup·tial (npshl, -chl) adj. 1. Of or relating to marriage or the wedding ceremony.

Originally posted a month ago. One of my favorite pieces of prose thus far and intensely personal.  

*  *  *

I have three wedding rings.
The one on the left is my first original wedding ring. The others are surrogates.

Same marriage. Three bands.

The first one doubles as a wedding ring and an engagement ring. It's a white gold band with three sparkly, hopeful diamonds. Even though it is often admired for it's uniqueness, there's tradition in the center diamond, as it belonged to my mother and came from her engagement ring. When the jeweler removed the stone from the prongs on her gold thin band, somehow the diamond chipped. I had them set it anyway, and on May 10, 2002, Cole and I wed, exchanging bands, mine with an aesthetic flaw, yet nonetheless sturdy. The inside reads, "With all my love."

Somewhere around year 7, my wedding ring didn't fit. I lost so much weight, my body and mind underwent so much change that with even the subtlest movements, my ring would slide off and ping ping ping to the floor. And during violent gestures, it would launch across the room, a thud and a dent in the drywall.

Afraid to lose the ring, I boxed it safely in a velvet lined jewelry box between a wooden bracelet that my sister brought back from Korea--with some symbol on it that meant "friendship" or "love" or "dignity" and a red slap watch. I swapped it out with a ring I purchased years ago in high school. A band made up of 4 thin bands, which at first glance appear solid, but when removed the puzzle ring crumbles into the pieces; 4 weak rings that bend under pressure.

The middle ring is a puzzle ring, which is made up of four smaller rings. You can see from this shot that the middle one doesn't always have it together.
I kept the pieces together and kept the illusion on my finger, though on more than one occasion, the ring was mistaken for costume jewelry, not a sign of my marital status. There were a few awkward exchanges and explanations. Apologetic smiles and flattered glances.

I wore the puzzle ring for almost three years, watching it wear and flatten in places that should be round. Since the ring has so many crevasses, I spent a good deal of the time scraping the edges clean with my fingernails, but it was never fully untarnished.

At first I resisted replacing it, because I was waiting to see if I would lose more weight, to see if I was destined to shrink anymore. I had asked my husband to make the adjustments to my first ring, but when he procrastinated month after month and year after year, I grew used to twisted ring.

It wasn't until after I took a trip down memory lane that I decided it was time for a new ring. I was flying back to my family when I had a layover in Denver, CO. In a Native American boutique, on a rack between beaded arm bands and a rack of turquoise dangly earrings, I saw my third ring. It is a wide band made of a darker metal with a matte finish, and it has an etching of two flowers that seem to be reaching for each other, tails vine-ing out behind them, but never quite touching. To me it seemed a symbol of power and fortitude, something my high school ring didn't provide. However, when lifted, the heft I thought it had disappeared like a mirage.

Ultimately the longing flower ring cost me $12. Less than both of the other rings, but I felt it was a purchase of far greater value. It would endure the pressures of life without bending. It will never replace my first ring, but it also won't be mistaken for costume jewelry.

I doubt it will be my last ring. I doubt my body will stop enduring change in the years to come. My hands will no doubt be required to carry weights I cannot imagine. My tinted industrial, yet feminine band fits me, resting in the indented cavity on my left ring finger, filling the emptiness.

For now.


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