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I want to thank everyone with all my heart who responded with encouragement and support for Maddy. She really appreciated it! It made her cheerful, and by the end of the day, that was very necessary!

I received no response from the teacher in question, but when Maddy got to Honors English 7th period this is what happened:

Maddy and friends enter and sit.
Teacher looks past Maddy to Maddy's friend and says loudly, "Do you know if (other Honors English teacher) has a class 7th period? I need to get someone out of this class."
Maddy is embarrassed but remains silent. Other students are giving her looks and whispering about it.
Teacher, (after no response, and to the room at large) loudly proclaims, "Stay here! I have to go see (other Honors English teacher) and check if she has an opening this period. I need to remove a student!"

Ugh! The thing is, until this happened, Maddy loved this class. She doesn't want a schedule change, and I think it is wrong (again!) to allow the teacher to force one. In fact, after the initial kerfuffle over the assignment, Maddy and I agreed to just let it go, as long as the teacher didn't go forward with the detention. And I was convinced she wouldn't; that she it had just been an overreaction and that she would realize that, and not hand in the detention slip. In which case, we would have let the whole thing drop. But no...

So I called (Mr. nice VP) again, and left a message explaining that Maddy does not want to change classes, and that it sounds like we need a meeting with the teacher. He emailed me back saying he would call this morning, but that the teacher was requesting until Monday to respond to my email.

I bet. Time to call her union rep, I'm guessing. Wish she'd thought about the repercussions before she upbraided and tried to censor Maddy, and then wouldn't let it go. Now I think she owes her an apology in front of the class. Is that too much?

What are we teaching kids about responsibility and accountability, when teachers are allowed to say and do whatever they want? [Note: my husband is a public school teacher, and I have the utmost respect for those who do this hardest of jobs. But they also must act respectfully to their students, the students' parents, and the differing value systems that built this country and its freedoms. And we all need to be held accountable for our actions, especially those in positions of authority and influence.]

Moving on...

Thankful Thursday (Summer Vacation-style)in photos:

Bear and needtobreathe live!

Bear and needtobreathe live!

A very sweet and chubby ground squirrel.

A very sweet and chubby ground squirrel.

A Stellar's Jay.

A Stellar's Jay.

The Lone Cypress

The Lone Cypress

Anthony Tashnick, Big Wave Surfer Extraordinaire!

Anthony Tashnick, Big Wave Surfer Extraordinaire!

Me and Tazzy!

Me and Tazzy!

Wednesday (W)ramblings

I've walked through this life with certain... shall we say, expectations, about the things I'll do, the places I'll see. And as time passes, (a lot of it, more than 40 years of it) these opportunities pass me by. In some way, it is the natural order of things, and in some small way, I'll grieve as the dream--however small--gives up the ghost.

Case in point: As a literary and not a literal foodie, I'd always anticipated someday dining at the Russian Tea Room and Tavern on the Green in NYC. The Tea Room dream died in 2002. Now the Tavern dream is gone as well:
Times article

At least I am fortunate enough to have eaten, in my youth, at Maxwell's Plum, the San Francisco iteration.

I signed up for JoNoWriMo 1.5 and will keep this blog posted with goals and achievements and whatnot.

In other randomness, my daughter's Honors English teacher assigned the class to write an alternate ending for a short story they read. It was a fairly violent story, and rather than go the usual route of more mayhem and murder (which most of her peers chose), Maddy decided to have the two male antagonists fall in love.

Her teacher didn't like that at all, and told Maddy her ending was "inappropriate", going on to mischaracterize Maddy's ending as having the two characters "having sex under a tree".

The actual ending read: "They fell in love, and lived happily ever after." (Maddy enjoyed the satire of having two opposing forces come together and do something different than expected). Heh.

Maddy stood her ground, explaining to the teacher that it was love, not lust, and that there was no sex involved. She also said it was less inappropriate to have two men fall in love than it was to have all those mass murders being committed.

As you might have guessed, the teacher wrote her up for being "rude and argumentative" and gave her detention.

Which resulted in a call to the Vice Principal this morning, and the following email to the teacher:

Ms. (Name omitted for obvious reasons),

I spoke with Maddy after school on Monday regarding the issue you and she had in class.
I've also spoken with Mr. (really nice guy VP) this morning regarding the same, and he asked that I outline my concerns to you.

Maddy's father and I object to both the detention/disciplinary incident report, and the characterization (by you, in front of the class) of her rewritten story ending as "inappropriate".

If you had an issue with Maddy's ending, it would have been fine to speak to her about that after class, and in private, rather than berating her in front of the class, and mischaracterizing the content of her assignment before her peers.

I understand that she spoke back to you, but I believe it was only to correct your misstatements about her work, and to defend what she had written, which was in no way inappropriate.

Maddy can be a boisterous person, but I believe she is generally respectful in school and diligent in her assignments. Maddy does, however, have a strong sense of right and wrong, and will not tolerate injustice or censorship, both of which I believe, she felt took place during the course of your disagreement in class.

To say that a love relationship (not sexual relationship, as you assumed) between two people of the same gender is inappropriate is not the job of the educational system. To say so in the face of other violent endings being deemed "appropriate" is irresponsible, especially given the actual content of the story, which was far from passive or mundane.

Whether you or I or the boy in the corner believe someone else's life-style choices or values are "appropriate"
should not come into play when grading or reviewing assignments or teaching other peoples' children. It is not the role of the educational system, and when it becomes so, we will have lost a great standard of the freedoms upon which this country was founded.


Ally Cowee

We'll see what happens...

Most Embarassing Song

Today I'm asking a question, and sharing a tidbit: What's the most embarrassing song on your iPod, iTunes, playlists etc. You know, the one you only play when you're wearing headphones, or when the house is empty? And why do you have it?

I have a crazy-eclectic mix of stuff in my iTunes, but I think my MOST embarrassing song, even more than those couple by Haley Duff, and The Spongebob theme is:

Go The Distance by Michael Bolton (from the Hercules soundtrack) but I have it because it's... well... inspiring :D So, what's yours?

I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a hero's welcome
Would be waiting for me
Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
This is where I'm meant to be

I'll be there someday
I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know ev'ry mile
Will be worth my while
When I go the distance
I'll be right where I belong

Down an unknown road
To embrace my fate
Though the road may wander
It will lead me to you
And a thousand years
Would be worth the wait
It may take a lifetime
But somehow I'll see it through

And I won't look back
I can go the distance
And I'll stay on track
No I won't accept defeat
It's an uphill slope
But I won't lose hope
Till I go the distance
And my journey is complete

But to look beyond the glory is the hardest part
For a hero's strength is measured by his heart

Like a shooting star
I can go the distance
I will search the world
I will face its harms
I don't care how far
I can go the distance
TillI find my hero's welcome
Waiting in your arms...

I will search the world
I will face its harms
TillI find my hero's welcome
Waiting in your arms...


Beautiful Time Sucks and Why We Need Them

Ok. So I promised you a post yesterday. Your point? I fell into the Nerdvana that is Goodreads (after my writing time, mind you) and spent much of my evening post-workout and dinner in a state of wondrous satiation.

So go friend me there! (But not until you've done your writing for the day!) Also, can anyone tell me why it won't let me friend people? It keeps telling me I've met my maximum for the day, but I can't get past 13 friends total. *sigh*

And for those of you more techwise than myself, can anyone get LJ and Facebook to interact together, the way Facebook seems to with every other app under the sun? (Oh Facebook, how I love thee...)

So, other than a single post in June, it's been over a year since I blogged. I've changed a lot in that year, most of it (I hope) for the better.

Some hard things happened last August, along with some great things. My beloved kitty passed away, I parted ways with my agent, I attended a marvelous conference and made some fantastic friends. But while all of it was happening, I kept feeling drained, overwhelmed, creatively bereft.

As we do, I tried to soldier through. And as we do (though lately I've seen a number of writers coming out of the closet with their frustrations, the pains that accompany the joys of writing, most notably Courtney Summers here: http://syndicated.livejournal.com/courtneysummers/42693.html) I hid my stress, and angst, and pain. So I wasn't here. Or at Verla's much. I Twittered now and then, and got on Facebook. But mostly I worked on freelance editing projects, and chatted with my crit peeps as if all were fine. And I kept working. Because that is what we do, right?

After leaving my agent, I started touching base with other possibilities, many from when I jumped first and asked questions later and signed with my first agent. I wasn't subbing the novel he'd shopped, but the one I'd completed and he hadn't yet seen. I knew the first book needed some tweaking, it was I'd left in the first place. He was ready to shelve it, but I knew I could make it stronger. When I realized the novel I was subbing needed more work, I stopped writing and started reading: Scene and Structure, Hooked, The Artful Edit, Story, Writing Fiction, and The Anatomy of Story. From early October through Jan 1, that is all I did. No writing. Only craft reading and pleasure reading.

And on Jan 2, I was ready to work. I knew what LTS and BSD needed, knew how to rewrise and make them not just good, but great, fabulous, amazing! But as we know, "Men make plans, and God laughs." I spent the next 3 months plus some, sick as a dog. Too dizzy to even sit in front of the computer. Now I can't remember exactly what I did during that time besides go to doctors, but I think it might have involved a lot of sleeping. By the time I was diagnosed and we got the situation under control, six months had passed and I hadn't written more than a few words, and perhaps some notes!

But here's the kicker. It was a great, good, wonderful thing! Because as God knew, more than anything, even more than writing, which I love, love, love! I needed to recharge, recover, rejuvenate, refresh, and refill. Otherwise, I would never have been able to create, and recreate!

He knew better than me. During the recoup time, when we were figuring out what course of action to take medically, I started working with a wonderful personal trainer who lives in my neighborhood and has a home gym and a pool. Since April, I've been working out an hour a day, five days a week, and I feel better than I have in 23 years. I'm on target to meet my weight loss/fitness goal at the end of January, which may seem like a long time, but I'm 42 people! Life-style changes are slow when you're this old *smirk* And I have to say, there've been many other healthy changes to accompany my working out. (Now hubby's working out twice a week!)

Perhaps one of the most important things I've discovered from all of this is that not only is balance in life attainable, it is vital. I'm a bit of a Type A girl; I love my job, I love to work. I have a tendency to overdue it, and especially since for many years I had to scrabble for writing time, I have a hard time letting it go at the end of the work day, leaving it behind and going on to family time, relaxation, and refilling of the well.

I can't work without isolation, and my office is in my entry-way/eating-area/kitchen. Clearly I don't work weekends! But even throughout two periods of unemployment within the last year (yes, hubby is a teacher in California, poor guy) I have the blessing and luxury of being a writer at home with my kids. Which means for 185 days of the year, I can write for 4-5 hours a day. And now, finally, that is enough :)

I've learned to use my time to write, and ruminate, and edit, and submit, and plan. I save the beautiful time-sucks like Facebook, and Twitter, and *gasp* Goodreads, and LJ for a few minutes in the morning, and a bit of time in the evening. (Or a sneak peek at lunch.)

And when my alarm goes off at 2:15 each afternoon, I hit ctrl-s, smile, and head off to change for my workout. I don't look back, and I don't reopen that document until the next day. And although I may think and dream and make a note here and there, I'm learning to check my writing day at the door. And I think I'm a much better, happier, healthier novelist, wife, and mother because of it *smile*.

Edited to add: And lest you think this post sounds holier-than-thou, let me assure you, I just spent 2 1/2 hours of writing time cleaning the kitchen (not my chore this week, but my in-laws are passing through) and writing this post. Guilt is a lot more difficult to check at the door. *grin*

It's Today, It's Today!

Remember how excited George was to meet his new littls brother, Stuart Little? He kept jumping up and down and shouting, "It's today! It's today!"

I'm that excited. Today is that day *smile*. (The two of you who still read this long-stagnant blog know what I mean, don't you?)

Today is the first day of school! And while I am no longer a student myself, I still roll around the school calendar, what with having 3 kids, and a husband who's a teacher, and whatnot.

Today I am the mother of a cell-phone wielding freshman in high school. She has volleyball tryouts this afternoon. Wish her well, if you read this :) Go Maddy!

I'm the mother of a 6th grader! A willowy, (yeah, I know right, where'd she get that height?!) bright, funny girl! Yay, Kate!!

I also claim that most awe-inspiring of creatures, the eleventh grade boy :) Tall (again with the height!), handsome, and all spiffy-smelling! It's a new year. Michael, you rock!

Hubby is now teaching an hour away, so we add the dimension of the long commute to our life and schedule this year. But hey, in this economy, in this state, in his underated, underpaid profession, who can complain? Honey, you're all that and a bag of Snapeas!!

I'm not simply excited for my family, though. See, here's the thing. I'm really a solitary kinda person. I crave alone time (except for the animals). Time to read, and reflect, and meditate, and pray, and yes, time to write!!!

During the summer, it does not happen. Not at all. And that's okay, too, because I love the luxury of spending time with my family; the lazy, relaxed pace of slow days and sleepy nights. I enjoy the downtime. But some days I cannot wait for it to end!

Autumn is energizing; and though here in Northern CA we won't see fall weather for a long while now, as the clock turns to school time, so I turn to the rejevenation and renewed thrill of work and writing and arting. I'm not a New Year's kinda goal setter. I set my goals when school starts, planning my year around holidays and breaks. So today I'll sit and dream and plan, for this year and also the future.

But I'll also write, because I'm in the middle of one novel revision, and will start reworking another as soon as I finish!

For those of you (still) reading, tune in tomorrow to hear what precipitated a nearly 1-year blog hiatus, and how my life has changed for the better in the interim. I'm off to savor the silence and revise that novel!

It's today! It's today!

Been a long, long while!

And besides sending a shout out to everyone on the f-list, I'm in desperate need of new icons!

My daughter is so bored and Halo'ed out that she's pretending to stalk Holly Black on MySpace :S

Yes, she is a little strange; perhaps the impending Freshman year is scaring her... or addling her brain... what was left of it...

A month of tough decisions

and yesterday... a heartbreaking good-bye.

Not the cutest pic of him, but I'm not up to looking through a bunch right now...

One snowy winter day in February 1992, a young woman walked into a shelter in Wolfeboro, NH and walked out with a new addition to her family of felines. Little Roland (for that was his name) wasn't too keen on the car ride home, but quickly fell into love and into step with his new family. Over the years, he went from being the youngest, to being the oldest, bidding farewell to his older brothers and welcoming others (felines, humans! even canines) into his growing family.

And he was always welcoming. Always friendly and loving. And though never a talker, would ride proudly atop his owner's shoulders.

He slept in my bed for 16 1/2 years, sharing it amiably with other cats, kids, husband, even the dogs every once in a while.

How I loved him!



I've been completely alone in the house (except for the animals, who're also totally relaxed and thrilled to be back in the rhythm of the school year) for about 1 1/2 hours now.

What an amazing blessing to be able to have space and time to create. I'm inexpressibly grateful.

Today is about incorporating the crits from PCCWW into Calendar, trying to move forward a bit with the story, and working on some freelance editing projects. I intentionally allowed for a slower start to ease the transition back to work. I'm also trying to weave together the playlist for CALENDAR. I have the theme, so that's good, but the rest always takes forever! And I do need to have it in order to sprint later in the process.

About PCCWW. It's not really a conference, and I shouldn't use that misnomer. It is a workshop. Extremely intense. Insanely productive. Amazingly intimate.

A couple of pictures: First is of Saturday night faculty dinner. (I was adjunct faculty, so to speak, as I presented the focus session on Saturday.) The theme for this year's workshop was epiphanies and endings. Edward is on the end, across from me, with Nancy Sondel, the workshop director, between us at the head of the table. Anne is two up from him on the right, in the leather jacket. Photo thanks to Doug Giddings.

One of the masterclass crits (this is a 3 on 1 critique. The other attendees are present and are invited to participate at the end with questions and comments on the manuscript.) Each faculty member crits for 5 minutes, the author asks questions/clarifies their points for 5 minutes and then there are 10 minutes of audience participation. Some crits are more a round-table discussion between faculty and author with audience chiming in. Mine was like that.

This was just after our Sunday brunch. Most everyone had left, but we gathered for one last picture. Can you tell which one is Edward? There WERE men attendees, 4 actually. Photo thanks to Derrick, our server.

The main issue with CALENDAR was structure. Talking it over with Anne and Edward was heady and enlightening and... empowering. So off I go to get to work. More later. Specifics and details and applications.

The second coolest thing about this workshop are the opportunities to chat with the faculty, get to know them as people. Amazing. Fun. Trippy. A blessing.

I leave you with a video from the CALENDAR playlist. This is for the theme song:

Okay, sadly I don't own the book, so I'm going from my notes, but, Mel asked about Ari's incline and this is how Ray visuals it, and I use it:

Opening Scene and Closing Scene provide a frame for the story.

The hook and the introduction(s)[characters, setting, conflict, desires etc.] occur in Act One, where the action starts slowish and picks up but slowly. Imagine a line starting at bottom left and moving upward in an incline to upper right.

Plot Point One (this is a MAJOR pp) ends Act One; sending the mc in a new direction, usually an action or decision they think will help them achieve their goal, but which actually results in MAJOR COMPLICATIONS, which are revealed in ACT TWO.

[this is all my weird paraphrasing, btw, lol]

ACT TWO is all about conflict and complications, lots of them. It's also a good place to weave in some backstory, if necessary. Make it seamless, though, or it will disrupt the narrative flow. ACT TWO is the longest act in the book, so it's important to keep the action rising (remember that incline) but not too quickly and not too slowly!

The MIDPOINT divides parts one and two of ACT TWO, and is a nice place for romance, seduction, and minor, foreshadowing transformations. Ray says the MP links the two chains of events in the book, those leading up to the MP and those leading away to climax and eventual resolution.

PLOT POINT 2 caps ACT TWO and is the best place for a reversal, because this is the moment of decisive change-- this is the catalyst that transforms the mc. Action. Ray characterizes it as a mini-climax that propels the story into ACT THREE. PP 1 and PP 2 must have a distinct connection.

ACT THREE is where the action peaks and then quickly falls; the shortest act in the book. MC is tired and defeated, but makes one last decision toward change. This time the mc succeeds, and in the resolution, the story plays itself out to its natural and satisfying conclusion, which ends in the wrap up.

Which wraps up my post for today :)

Back to the revision-zone!

My Other Revision...

Or repurposing... I like revision(ing)

These silver(plate)? spoons into a wedding gift for our kids old babysitter (and our recent petsitter)

They started like this:

unaltered spoons

And now they look like this:

inked spoons

Today I'll add found text to the bowls of the spoons to create the poem I wrote for the happy couple. After sealing and letting them dry until tomorrow night, I'll add some embellishments and jump rings and we'll have a wedding spoon book :) Will post picks when they're finished.

And hey, if you happen to have some silver or silverplate spoons lying around and want a book made for you, let me know. These are FUN!!!

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