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. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Lesson About How to Handle "Mansplaining" from Jane Austen

The scolding of Emma by Mr. Knightly. Emma. Miramax 1996
One day last week I had to help a student find a book in their Lexile- the new way my school district measures student reading levels. Unfortunately, our library books are not listed by Lexile, so it’s always difficult to find a book for students who are high up in the Lexiles, but books they would find interesting are not. The fun books are not usually very challenging. This is where I have to get creative with my recommendations- specifically, I have to make classic literature sound very interesting to a teenager. Not always an easy task. I have to make use my degree in English as a guide. Thankfully, I read many, many classics, so I can draw from what I liked back then to make those suggestions.

With this particular young lady, I knew that she liked realistic and chick lit fiction, so I went straight for Jane Austen. Due to her non-Lexile reading preferences, I hoped that Emma would be a good choice for her. I described how Emma thought she was a successful matchmaker, but the reality was very different. The student decided that was the perfect book for her. 

After the student left, I pondered the lessons taught through Emma, but thought nothing more of it until later that day, when I read a few comments on a Facebook post of mine. Two men who attended high school with me made comments that most would deem mildly as “mansplaining.” Initially I thought about asking if they really thought I was so stupid as to not know what they felt they needed to explain to me. Then I remembered the scene in Emma where Emma says something derogatory to Miss Bates, which Mr. Knightley promptly scolds her for doing. Miss Bates was not Emma’s social equal, so it was not kind for her to criticize Miss Bates, knowing that others would view the treatment as an acceptable. Mr. Knightley reminds her that she is better than that and that she should always show kindness to those below her social status.

So, how is this similar to my situation? Well, to my knowledge, neither of the men in question ever went to college, nor are they as financially stable as I am (from what I can tell based on their online presence). Technically, I am in higher standing educationally and financially than they are. How I treat them in my comments would give others a lead for how they would treat these men. Since it was on Facebook and not in the real world, it wouldn’t be as bad for the men, but I have decided that it really isn’t kind of me to be defensive over a stupid comment. Not only that, but is it really worth the effort to get worked up over an explanation that I did already know, but does not change anything in the long run? No, not really. This is what gets me sometimes about the accusations of “mansplaining.” Sometimes it is condescending and detrimental to relationships, but most of the time, as on Facebook and the like, it is just some guy getting their thoughts down and possibly not understanding that the information is already known. Charging men with “mansplaining” for minor comments only makes the woman seem insecure and men defensive and angry. There are many other things in life to get angry about, and usually how someone explains something shouldn't be one of them. If you're going to make a man defensive and angry with you, make sure it is something worth fighting for, ladies!

If you haven't seen the movie version above, check out the scene where Emma gets her scolding from Mr. Knightley... this mansplaining?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Close up of milk glass candlesticks from last post.
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
- Edith Wharton

I learn so much about myself by looking at candlelight. I know the image is the second I have shared of candles on my fireplace mantle, but the inspirational thoughts those flickers of light give me always lead me down the path of self-realization.

In the workshop I teach on learning to write without fear (which I will be releasing an online version through Udemy by the end of the month!), I work with writers on figuring out what the fears are that keep them from writing. Saturday afternoon I came to the realization that I’ve never put much thought into how much the rest of my life is lead by being fearful of one thing or another. It’s those personal fears that are the ones that hold me back-  moving out of my childhood neighborhood, asking the guy out (or even just flirting), expanding my business, writing my own books, strained familial relationships, and even my relationship with God and religion- that I desperately need to address. Along with my goals for 2018, I plan to face these fears head on. As I teach my writing students, I will never actually get away from the fears, but I need to learn how to make them work for me. I hope to develop the wisdom that will lead me to take my own advice.

Some of these fears I have will only be settled by writing them out. Some of them will require me to step outside of my comfort zone. It may also be that one or two may not ever be resolved. All I can do is decide that I will try. I am ready.