Tag Archives: writing

They’re watching us.

In the Spotlight

I’m a natural born nerdy geek, which is why my profession chose me. I’m a teacher. I’ve always been one, even when I was in school. Few other things give me the amount of satisfaction I receive when I see a student’s eyes light up with understanding. To see my students implement what I’ve taught them is a joy to me.


Important elements of teaching include encouraging the students not to give up, impressing on them not to settle for less than what they can achieve, and showing them that they can do far more than they think they can. I tell about my failures in order to show them how the failures contribute to the successes.

Author Spotlight

One of my goals in teaching is to produce more effective teachers, though not necessarily in classrooms. Parents, friends, and co-workers are teachers, too, though some do more harm than good. In fact, I am not everyone’s favorite person. Ha! I’m not usually their favorite teacher, either. I can be a hard taskmaster.

Imagine my surprise Monday when I walked into school and was met by excited students and teachers directing me to the “Authors in the Spotlight” wall put up by the fourth graders. I was truly amazed that two of the eighteen students in that class had chosen me and featured my books. I was in exalted company: Dahl, Riordan, O’Connor, Morgan, Park, and others.

I’ve taught these children for five years. They know I’ve published seven books because I’ve donated my books to school auctions, and I’ve shown the students my Amazon page. I wanted them to know they could publish and control their own work.

I was very happy to be featured, and I was truly glad that I have always written clean fiction. There is nothing there I would be embarrassed about my students reading, though my books aren’t children’s books. Just another reason to keep my material PG and PG-13.

The children are always watching.


Hell Month

nano_logo-830912ef5e38104709bcc38f44d20a0dIf you are a writer, you probably know that November is National Novel Writing Month, or affectionately called, NaNoWriMo. Object of the game: Start a novel, 50k words in 30 days, which works out to 1,667 words a day. The principle is simple. The execution is mind-numbingly difficult. As are most battles with yourself.

I am not particularly competitive when it comes to things like this. No one will be harmed if I roll over tomorrow and don’t show up at the page. But there comes a point at which you have to at least try. (Yeah, I know, the whole Yoda, there is no try only do thing. I’m a Star Trek fan. Worse yet, I like Babylon 5!!!)

So, another November, another self-inducted bout of heartbreak. I will be looking to fellow writer, Laura Hile for encouragement. Though, to be fair, she’s now deep enough into the school year that she’s struggling to function once she makes it home after work. wanatribelowrezcopyAnother source of verve I’m looking towards is Kristen Lamb’s W.A.N.A.Tribe. There is a group specifically for NaNo, ’16. Several writers meet in the wee hours of the morning to write and be accountable. I’m there right now, not writing for NaNo but writing this blog post. (And regardless of the NaNo rules, I am counting this post for my daily word count!)

team-hwc-2016That rebellious streak of mine is also why I am writing with Team Holly, part of the writing site of Holly Lisle. Holly encourages you to write and if you have to bend, or break, the rules by working on something already started, or editing something in process, fine by her. And me, obviously. I’m starting something new but I’m betting I drag in loose bits and bobs from projects past.

I’ll be letting you know how I do through the month. The idea that Thanksgiving is coming keeps me going.

Into the breech!


I write like …


I put a section of writing containing FW’s pov, and a section of Anne’s pov into the window. So, I write FW like King and Anne like Christie.


Try it: I Write Like

They won’t say it but I will

As you saw on the previous post, Laura Hile’s Darcy By Any Other Name is now available in the Kindle version right now. Go and buy it. When the paperback version is available, go buy that as well. I have no idea what the price of the print version will be, but I’ll bet, even when added to the $4.99 for the Kindle version, you will be down less than what you’d spend on a movie and lunch. (HInt, Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, directed by Whit Stillman, is said to be a worthy offering.)

Below is a photograph of a woman working in an airplane factory in WWII.


QA. Quality Control. That what writers do just before the hit “SEND.” A writer has the idea. We draw up the the blueprints, or plot. The parts, or characters are molded by us, and we assemble the lot of it to make a novel. And most of that is done alone. Except for the coffee/liquor/chocolate that many of us use to medicate our way through the manufacturing process.

In the same way that we salute the civilian women of WWII, salute your favorite writers by buying their books. A nice payday is a great reward for a story well-done. Review their books. Nothing says “I care” like helping other readers understand the greatness of your fave author. And most of all, enjoy their work. Writers may never see their readers, but we do get a kick out of knowing someone is going to get that sly little joke in Chapter 10.

Again, DARCY BY ANY OTHER NAME is available at Amazon. Buy it. You will not regret it.

Use Protection, Kids. And Lots of It!

Romance_Travel_CoverFor a while I have been working to arrange a move for my mother. There are lots of moving parts and I’m not all that good at multitasking these days. To keep my sanity, I have been working on a new story.  I finally got far enough in and was confident I would keep with it, so started posting the story on Beyond Austen.  Captain Wentworth’s Guide to Romance and Travel: Lyme Regis is Persuasion without Louisa Musgrove’s fall from the Cobb. This past week I was in the trenches of packing boxes, paper, tapes, and Sharpie markers. Wednesday is the day I had chosen to post and so a week ago I put the flash drive in my computer to retrieve the post, and, VOILA! The drive was emp-ty.

Not a crumb remains.

A few years ago, I took Laura Hile’s loss of thousands of words in a computer crash as a warning and started keeping all my writing on flash drives. A couple of years after that I starting getting serious about organizing my writing, graphics, and private business. Yes, indeedy, I did.

So much for my trying to be grown-up.

I’m thankful for two things: that I was hip-deep in real life and not focused on my writing, and that it took several days to realize that the aforementioned story wasn’t the only thing on the drive.

I’ve now officially lost one whole novel, two partial–each hovering around 175 pages–several outlines of novel ideas, and countless graphics I had created for this and other blogs, and several book covers.

There were many family photos as well, but I have found them on other drives and online haunts of mine.

I am home now and have signed up for an automatic, online, cloud storage service.

Lessons learnt: exhaustion keeps you from going ballistic when the unthinkable happens, and back up your back ups. And then back it all up again.

Nothing is certain.

Except the Web Gods will exact a price.

I will be back next week with Wentworth Wednesday. Anne and Frederick finally talk in the relative quiet of the White Hart dining room with the Musgrove clan dickering over going to the theatre.


3 Persuasion Changes that doom Anne and Frederick

From the opening of Persuasion:

Elliot of Kellynch-Hall
Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester; by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, Nov. 5, 1789; Mary, born November 20, 1791.

Tomorrow is November 5th and I’m taking a break from Wentworth Wednesday to wonder aloud how Persuasion might have been different if the still-born son of Walter Elliot had lived.

When I first thought of this, my gut feeling was the story would change but not so much that Anne and Frederick wouldn’t get together eventually.

Boy, what a good night’s sleep can accomplish when it comes to a plot line.

My mythic Elliots at play

My mythic Elliots at play

My thinking was, with a son, Sir Walter would have been more preening and ridiculous with that “look at what I’ve done” sort of vibe. Even if Lady Elliot had managed to keep her husband’s financial flamboyance in check, her death would have assured a cascade of son-centric reckless spending, and shortened the trip down the economic wormhole for the Elliots.

Here’s what happens if, instead of fourteen years, it’s only ten years after Lady Elliot’s death that the retrenchment takes place:


The Crofts are still in India. This means they do not lease Kellynch Hall. Without the Crofts renting the Hall, the story fails.

Frederick is still at sea. This means Frederick will not return to Somerset and the story fails.

Mary is not yet married to Charles Musgrove. Even if the stars align and the first two events do occur, at this point there is no reason for Anne to remain in the area and not go directly to the white glare of September in Bath.

There is a bright spot. William Elliot never comes into the story. The only reason we even know of him is because he is the heir presumptive to Kellynch Hall. With a son, I’m sure Sir Walter would never deign to seek out “the great grandson of the second Sir Walter.” This being the case, instead of mooning over her cousin, Elizabeth might have married and had a semblance of a happy life.

Heroines who have older brothers are thin on the ground in Austen novels. And even when they appear they have little to do with changing the course of the story. But had Anne’s brother lived, her life would have been very sad indeed.

Well, maybe.

Maybe not.

Austen was a clever woman and she might have created some spectacular adventures to get Frederick and Anne back together. Like the younger brother falls in with Dick Musgrove and runs off to sea, meets Captain Wentworth, and …

What if the son, taking social cues from his father, disdains Wentworth’s pursuit of his sister in the summer of ‘06? Family honor must be satisfied, so the little gherkin challenges the Captain to a duel and kills him. Wait, then the story again fails so we can scratch that one.

Any other ideas? What if the brother is more like his mother and less a knucklehead like his daddy? What if, in ’06, he encourages Anne to run away with Frederick? Or at the very least not break the engagement? Or, if Anne follows through with the break-up he encourages her later to marry Charles Musgrove.

Anyway, you see how an absent character, mentioned outright only once, can make all the difference to a fan fiction writer.

R. I. P. still-born son, born Nov. 5, 1789.

Word Crimes

Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes” is my favorite YouTube video this week. He has been reading my mind. As a former English teacher turned writer, I can attest that everything he sings about in this much improved version of “Blurred Lines” is a pet peeve of mine. One disclaimer: It is NEVER okay to leave out the Oxford comma. Yes, I will make drama about that.

I’m a music enrichment specialist, and my elementary school children are working on a play called Grammar Rocks. I’m teaching them the music, and the drama/creative movement teacher is handling everything else. The songs are fun, but they teach the children about punctuation, contractions, adverbs, verbs, and troublesome words. Each song uses a different musical genre. The “Troublesome Words Blues” is my favorite. GrammarRocks

I teach at a charter school which emphasizes the multiple intelligences and encourages creativity. The children learn to think “outside the box.” Geeks and nerds are valued, not labeled. These students are capable of learning the songs and applying the content to their writing skills.

The English teacher in me loves explaining what the songs mean as we learn the words and music. The children loved it when I pointed out that correct comma usage was the difference between “I ate, Grandma,” and “I ate Grandma.”

I may have a budding, best-selling author or two in the group. The third graders actually published a book last year. How wonderful is that?