Monday, April 9, 2018

Recap of TLA Dallas: AKA Librarianpalooza, Texas Style

Me, at the T&P Station, 6:20am, April 4, 2018
This last week I was off campus, hanging out with librarians for the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Dallas. I love attending TLA every year. This is the first year in the last 8 that I haven’t been on a committee, or in charge of a committee. It’s so strange to walk in and not have to check how much time I have until my first meeting, or what sessions I really have to give up because I have to be at the ceremony. I get to just enjoy the conference. The most difficult part of the entire conference was getting on the TRE train at the T&P Station every day at 6:20am to make sure I arrived at Dallas Union Station by 7:30am. I don’t think I caffeinated enough before I got on the train!

Being around literary folk—big name literary folk— always has an affect on me. Going to sessions where professional writers talk about their craft and influences just does something. I get the tingling of creativity pulsing through the air. I’m not sure if this is just a writer thing, or if everyone gets it, but it’s a great burst of energy. I spent most of my lunches doing research on a young adult historical (maybe paranormal) mystery series that I had thought up several years ago, but filed it away. I just have to keep the mojo going after the conference. The fact that I don’t have other distractions at the moment will make this an experience that I hope to carry over for the rest of the year.

Oh, and I learned some great library things, as well. I don’t want to discount that at all, but my library has been in a transition this year since we quit doing AR cold turkey and I’m still trying to find my groove to make programming mine. The best takeaway so far has been Adulting 101, where several high school librarians created groups at their schools to teach students skills that they need to know either for college or adulthood, but just haven’t been taught at home. I’m definitely taking that back to my campus!

If anything, attending TLA inspires dreaming in me. I dream of a better library. I dream of my own books I will write. I dream of someday being one of those authors up on the stage or in the signing line, having an audience who loves my stories as much as I do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March for Our Lives is NOT Just a Liberal Issue...

All people should want kids to feel safe, right?
This past Saturday I participated in the Fort Worth March for Our Lives rally. I was greatly impressed by the eloquence and maturity of the young people who organized the event (and I’ve known one of them since she was three years old, so this was a pretty proud moment). I Instagramed and Facebooked several photos in real time and was pleasantly surprised at how civil my friends were, even those I knew had vastly different political beliefs. The thing is, March for Our Lives is not a liberal issue. It is an issue everyone should stand up for: to protect our children from violence in our schools, as well as in our streets and homes. You can be pro-life and support children who are already born from dying in their classrooms. You can be a gun owner and still think that regulations should be in place to keep people with mental illness or multiple police visits from getting fire arms. You can stand by more than one political issue. In fact, that’s what makes our country a truly independent nation- the ability to have more than just a straight-ticket opinion about issues. Have we really become so polarized to believe that if liberals or conservatives support something, then whichever side we identify with, we should oppose the other?

What has become of our society? Have we really gotten to the point that, when children are afraid and speak out about their fears, adults think it is appropriate to mock them? A great nation (supposedly a Christian one) should not act this way towards its citizens. This emotionally immature behavior has to stop. Our leaders need to stick to the issues. Our leaders need to spend less time making fun of other people and get to work. There is no room in our future for people who cannot be decent to one another. It is a greatly held belief that “to get respect, you must first give it”— but who decides which person does this first? You do. I challenge everyone reading to approach your fellow human with respect, and more than likely, you will get it. If you don’t get respect back, well…that’s on the other person. You be the better human, even though it’s easier (and sometimes more satisfying) to have a great comeback.

Friday, March 23, 2018

What I’m Reading: Become a Fearless Writer: How to Stop Procrastinating, Break Free of Self-Doubt, and Build a Profitable Career

Considering I get so much done, I feel like I am the world’s busiest procrastinator. I try to not live that “busy” life—the one where, when someone asks how you’re doing, you say “Oh, I’ve been so busy…” It seems like the key to this type of conversation is just semantics. Don’t say you’re busy, even if you are really, really busy. I do feel that I am constantly on the go, though, with a multiple page to-do list for my library, business, writing, and home. Just writing down those four parts of my life gives me the anxiety that would send most people to their beds, pulling the sheets over their head. Hmm…that actually sounds nice. When can I do that?

Let’s face it—Life is busy. We all have things we absolutely have to do. What is important is that we take the time to get something done for ourselves. For me, that is writing. For too long, my writing has been an afterthought. It’s been one of those things that I put off for a day when I have several hours to just sit, relax and think. Now, I do love sitting, relaxing, and thinking, but with a full time job, a business that wants to be full time, and a house to take care of, those “nothing to do” hours are few and far between.

So, I decided I was going to stop my writing procrastination and get to it. I have a class called Write Fearlessly that I am currently transitioning into an online class, so when the book Become a Fearless Writer: How to StopProcrastinating, Break Free of Self-Doubt, and Build a Profitable Career by Nina Harrington, I had to check it out. After all, I’ve been procrastinating and I want to encourage others to become fearless, so… makes sense, right? It’s an eBook, so I’m about 18% into it. Everything is jiving with what I’ve been thinking or doing right now, and I hope that I do gain some new insight, not just for me, but something I can share with others. The sad thing is, as I read the book, I feel like I am procrastinating from getting other projects done. When did I become the librarian and writer who thought it was procrastination to sit down and read a book? That mindset has to go!

As of right now, I’ve actually written in some time on my to-do list to get writing done. I’ve written this post, so it looks as if it is working already. I’ll update my thoughts on this when I finish the book. No procrastinating on that!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Blame it on the Equinox

You know it's Spring when the coleus come out!
Today is the first day of spring. Since this is Texas, that means that it is 30 degrees cooler than it was yesterday—when it was still winter.

I was on Spring Break last week, and instead of going on some fabulous trip—like my Thanksgiving jaunt to Paris— I stayed home to get stuff done around the house. There’s the regular spring cleaning inside, but what really draws me in this time of year is getting the yard presentable. It seems to be the thing to do just as soon as the little green tips begin sticking their heads out of the ground. So far I have raked up 30 bags of leaves around the homestead (1/4 an acre in the city counts as a homestead, right?), and I have at least 40 more before I’m done for the season thanks to my 8 ancient trees. Boy do I like the shade they provide in the summer, though!

Last week also led to the planting of salad, herb and lavender troughs—goat trough gardens instead of raised beds. I’ve had these around for about 10 years. They’ve made appearances in earlier posts to this blog. This year they’ve already provided us with two salads and herbal accompaniment to another meal or two.

I have lots of pots of flowers and even a few pots of tomatoes. I love this time of year. It does seem to take over my life, though. Not much gets done anywhere else—house cleaning, writing, reading—when there is a garden to tend. It feels good to get it done. Bring in the beautiful so that when I do have time to stop to read or write, I’m able to do it outside in the garden!

The house cleaning, well…I unintentionally live by the late, great Governor Ann Richards’ theory of housework- “I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.'” I mean, I did change my sheets, but that was about it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bye, Twitter

Image via Virtualization Review

Y’all, I have a confession to make- while I am a social media guru of sorts for many people, today I did something that kind of stunned me, and it may you, too: I deleted my Twitter account. Actually, I also deleted Fort Worth Writer’s Boot Camp’s Twitter account, too.

I want to say it was a political statement due to the overuse of a certain highly powerful US politician overusing the bejeebus out of it, but really, I never could follow it. I never found the platform understandable (really, it seemed too all over the place to make sense), so I never actually went on it to “tweet” anything. I would cross-post from Instagram for my personal account and from Facebook for my business account, but I just never really got into Twitter. It also seems that Twitter never got into me. I never had any re-tweets, nor were very many of my posts liked. I am much more proficient at my favorite social media platforms- Facebook an Instagram.

The reality of the whole thing is that I just don’t think I was meant to tweet. Many of my writer friends will be horrified to think that I would drop a very important social media platform, which will obviously change the way the world finds me. Really, though, I don’t feel like I’ve lost out on anything. I don’t even think anyone will notice that I’ve gone anywhere. At least, they wouldn’t notice except that I’m posting this right here. Also, I will be sharing on Facebook.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Thoughts of an Educator When There are School Shootings...

My school home.

Wednesday—Valentine’s Day—while my students were all celebrating love and friendships during lunch, a school in Parkland, Florida was under attack. In 6 minutes, 17 students and teachers lost their lives. A fire alarm being pulled was part of the trap to get everyone out of the classrooms and into the line of gunfire.
Thursday—yesterday—we had an unannounced fire drill. This was poorly timed, to say the least, on the part of one of our administrators, but even more- how are we to trust that the fire alarms are now really for drills, emergencies or a trap?
As a high school librarian, I’ve always realized the vulnerability of being in a library during a potential attack by intruders. Libraries are inherently welcoming, inviting places- usually with windows and lots of open space. The two libraries I’ve presided over have been just that. My current library has five huge windows looking out into the hallway. The only way to lock the door is to go out into that hallway to lock it. Four of the five interior rooms have large windows that make them easy targets for anyone wanting to shatter glass to get inside. The fact that I’ve had to strategize with the two teachers in the library as to how we would hide any number of students who could potentially be in both their classes and the library makes this all too real for educators.
Educators have to worry about so much when it comes to our students. Will I teach them what they need to know to pass “The Tests?” Will my students be able to succeed in college or career? Will they be productive members of society once they leave the school doors? And now a new one- Will my students survive the school day?
Thoughts and prayers are nice condolences, but they do nothing for someone who has lost their family due to gun violence. The guns in these mass shootings were purchased legally. When owning a gun is more important than a child or educators life, we really need to re-evaluate our priorities. We need to legislate to make sure the part of that 2nd Amendment that says “well regulated” is actually well regulated.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Panther City Review 2018 is Open for Submissions!

I am so proud to announce that Panther City Review 2018 is now open for submissions! The theme for this issue is "Wisdom." The submission fee is $5 per entry (Poetry may submit up to 5 poems for $5). Please make sure to include the type of entry in the title of your document file (ie- nf=Non-Fiction, ss=Short Story, etc.). Please make sure your file is an editable file (ie- .docx or .rtf).

We are also seeking art for the cover. If you are an artist and interested in submitting for the cover art, please make sure to include a document describing the art you are submitting and how it relates to the theme of "Wisdom." Please make sure that your submission is a vertical image (the journal is printed 5.125" X 8"), and submitted as a .jpg file no smaller than 300 dpi.

Types of Entries: 
  Cover Art (Up to 2 entries and two descriptions per submission, vertical .png or .jpg, at least 
   300 dpi) 
Creative Non-Fiction (up to 4,000 words)
     Novel Excerpt (up to 4,000 words)  
     Poetry (up to 5 entries may be submitted for one fee of $5)
     Short Play/Screenplay (up to 15 pages)
     Short Story (up to 4,000 words)
All submissions chosen for Panther City Review 2018 will receive a complimentary copy of the 2018 issue as well as wholesale discounts on any additional 2018 copies. Any submissions not accepted will receive critique notes as a thank you for your interest. If you have questions, please contact Rachel Pilcher at

The deadline is April 29, 2018, 11:59PM.