Sunday, December 26, 2010


I am SOOO excited! My husband bought a laptop for me for Christmas. It's my first laptop in nearly ten years! And this one is for my writing only. Nothing else, but my writing. I won't be doing lesson plans or anything schoolwise on this one, unless I find something really cool to do on here. That's what the school-issued laptop is for. Anyway, my new laptop is an HP. I'm still getting used to the keyboard action. It's different from my Apple because the keys are kind of slippery, and I keep typing incorrect letters. The keyboard is also set up differently, and so is the tracker mouse. I may have to go into settings and modify the mouse just a bit, if I can. This will sure beat having to edit on my iPhone this summer.

Yes, I edited one of my novels twice using my iPhone. I could only read three lines at a time. Excruciatingly slow process that I hope never to have to do again. I still need to upload iTunes and all of my music to this computer, too. I like to be inspired when I write.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Writing Gifts Part Two

Writing a personal letter which describes why a person is special to you and significant in your life can be a great gift idea. The more specific you write, the more the person you are giving this letter to will love it. Check out this video to find out how to write with specific details.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

13 Reasons Book trailer

To check out what 13 Reasons Why is about, look at this video book trailer:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I just finished this book - like the narrator, Clay, in the book, I read/listened to Hannah's story within almost 24 hours. I started the book last night at around 10:30 and finished tonight at 11:00. (Although I couldn't read during class.I did have to teach classes after all.)

I'm left with a dizzying, sad, full throat kind of feeling. You have to read the book to understand this. It's definitely not for the faint hearted. The viciousness of people who pretend to be friends, but abandon you when you most need them. I remember those feelings of despair and self-loathing that Hannah felt. Like Hannah, I blamed myself for things that happened that I had no control over. When I was nineteen years old, three important people in my life died, and I almost died, too.

I can also identify with Clay because I'm more like him than any other character, including Hannah. I lost a very special person due to suicide. Years ago. Way before I became a teacher.

Luckily, I had a lot of positive connections in my life when I most needed it. People who reached out to me without knowing that's actually what they were doing. People, like the character Clay, who gave me hope. That tomorrow was another day, and I would survive it.

I love this book because teen suicide is not talked about in schools. Bullying is. Gossip is. Sex is. Sexually Transmitted Diseases are. Yet, something as basic and as important as LIFE is not talked about.

So, what do I do with this? Do I go back to my classroom and recommend that kids read this book? Some might not be able to handle this without some guidance. My students are in middle school, not high school. However, I've known several middle school kids personally who have had to survive the suicide of someone they love, usually a parent.

So, I'm writing this blog post. If suicide is something that someone you know is thinking about - Help them - tell a trusted adult, stay with your friend until he or she gets help.  Call 1-800-SUICIDE and tell them that you or your friend is contemplating suicide. Go online at Here are common signs that I got from the World of Psychology website:

If someone says two or more of the following:
Life isn't worth living, my family would be better off without me, next time I'll take enough pills to do the job right, I don't need this stuff anymore, don't worry, I won't be around much longer, you'll be sorry when I'm gone, I can't deal with it anymore, I won't be a burden much longer, nobody understands me or feels the way I do, I'd be better off dead, I feel like there's no way out, you'd be better off without me.

Sometimes, it's not what the person says, but what they do. They cut themselves off from you, push you away emotionally, spend hours alone in their room, skip classes to spend hours alone in their room or their car, do reckless or dangerous things that they never would have done before, become lethargic and want to sleep all the time, not excited about anything anymore, not care about personal appearance of hygiene, talk as if they are detached from everything as if they are a third party looking at themselves or at you without any real emotion. (I just wrote this from my own experiences with suicide. I just looked on the website and sure enough all of the symptoms are eerily similar.)

Read this book. You will never be the same again. If you feel like Hannah, please, please, please tell someone who can help you before it's too late. Believe it or not, almost everyone I know has felt suicidal at one time or another in their life. You are not alone. You are never alone.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Writing Gifts

A gift of writing is one of the most personal and cherished gifts you can give someone. This type of gift is not just reserved for elementary school children. On many occasions, I've given people I care about the gift of my writing.

These gifts could be in the form of writing a poem, creating a photo book with special memories written inside or writing a heart-felt letter. Mothers and grandmothers really love these types of gifts, especially if you put it in a frame with your picture. Girls really dig this, too, guys!

A couple of years ago, one of my students gave me a book of the poems she wrote in class complete with photos she had taken. It was one of the most wonderful things a student can give a teacher. Now whenever I read her book, I remember the different writing activities and specific classroom memories that each poem evokes for me. It's almost like listening to a song on the radio. Each poem takes me right back to that particular memory. (Let me just admit it. I cried when she gave it to me.)

So, if you're wondering what to give someone - give them the gift of time and give them the gift of shared memories.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Figuring out how to use blogger

I am still learning how to use the features of this blog. I've had MySpace and Facebook accounts. Still do. But this is quite different. Especially since my comments and blogs on those were only seen by friends. It's a little unnerving having a blog that anyone in the world can see.

Each day I've been adding different things. Today I added a picture of my writing desk. The picture is a bit staged; I have to admit. My keyboard is usually not covered up, and my desk is usually a mound of papers, bills, other electronics like cameras iPods and such. Occassionally I might find a Star Wars Lego figure or some sticky substance that I can't identify because my children often use my writing space, too.

Soon, I plan to start adding other features as well. I'd like to add contests and maybe some video. After all I am trying to build a following here, right?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To Plan or Not To Plan

To Plan or Not to Plan? - that is the question that most beginning writers ask, including myself four years ago when my journey with Dreaming Dangerously began.

After writing three novels and planning novels 4 and 5, I've learned quite a lot about the way I work best. I'm the kind of writer who needs an idea I'm excited about, and then I have to plan. Writing 70,000 to 80,000 words is intimidating. Even more intimidating is revising and editing that much text.

What benefits me the most is following a plan. I don't really outline, per se. It's too rigid for me. However, I do know what I want to happen in each scene of my books. Each scene fits into the plot line like a puzzle piece. Some scenes I end up cutting, and some new scenes have to be added after the first three or ten revisions. (Yeah, I said ten revisions of 70,000 words - writing is hard work.) Other times, I just have to rearrange the scenes so the storyline makes more sense.

The benefit of the plan is that at least I have some sort of road map. I know the destination of my story before I begin writing it. I have to make sure it's worth the journey for the reader. I don't want to write 65,000 words and then not be able to end the story in a way that would satisfy my readers or myself.

One of the best ways to plan out a novel is using the Snowflake Method created by Randy Ingermanson on his website I had no clue how to plan out a novel, but his method makes a lot of sense. I also like his advice on writing scenes at Writing the Perfect Scene.