Posted in Life, Teaching, Writing

Keeps Typing

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Creeeeeeeeak.

[Sticks one arm tentatively inside. Feels spider webs. Flips out. Does hippity-hoppity screechy octopus-style dance move until all spider webs are off.

[Reaches in with broom and clears entryway of cobwebs.]

[Lights match. Sees angry homeless spiders. Drops match. Screams. Runs. Screams some more.]

[Eventually comes back to make sure has not started fire by dropping match. Match is out. Spiders are gone. Soft bluish glow emanates from rectangular device in corner of room. Device beckons.]

[Tiptoes toward light. Sits down on slightly familiar wheeled object. Wiggles until feels more comfy.]

[Blows dust off tray of clicky things. Coughs. Sneezes. Looks for tissue. Finds none. Wipes nose on sleeve. Looks around. Pretends did not just wipe nose on sleeve.]

[Pops knuckles. Pops wrists. Pops neck. Pops knuckles again. Takes deep breath.]

[Types.]

[Smiles. Types some more. Backspaces to fix typos. Curses. Types again.]

[Checks Facebook. Goes back to typing.]

[Keeps typing.]

This is all just to say… I know. It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything to my blog. It’s been so long that WordPress is sending me emails like, “We recommend you post at least once a month!” and “It’s been a while since you posted,” and “Hey, you still have a blog, right?” Even my adoring fans* have started asking when I’m going to post something again.

* Ok, mainly just my dad.

So, here I am. I’ve clawed my way out of the piles of student papers and located my cute little office with my cute little computer with its cute little keyboard, and now that I’ve dusted off the cobwebs and sent the spiders scurrying, I plan to visit more often. I’ve missed it.

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

At school mainly. And at home grading papers. And at coffee shops grading papers. And sitting in my backyard grading papers. I graded, among other things, 174 expository essays, which took me roughly… hang on… carry the one… subtract the sleeping… FOREVER.

It wasn’t all bad though. Some of the essays were quite good, and others were funny. One student wrote in her introduction to an essay about benefits of learning from your mistakes, “Why does failing feel like climbing up a giant mountain, but when you get to the top, the view is nothing but bricks and bones?”

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Nothing but bricks and bones? That’s some creepy stuff from a seventh grader. I may have to borrow that image for a short story.

My students also learned about procedural texts by writing how-to manuals. They had to write the step-by-step procedure for any simple task that could be done in less than fifteen minutes in the classroom. When they were finished, they brought all the necessary supplies for their task, swapped booklets at random, and proceeded to follow the instructions. That was a very amusing day. There were students making origami, braiding hair, doing push-ups, eating cereal, drawing penguins, and learning to throw a softball all at the same time.

The most unique manuals were:

  • How to Clean Your Teeth (complete with toothbrush, paste, floss, and mouthwash)
  • How to Make Cookie Dough (This involved a LOT of supplies and other students kept having to be shooed away from it, like flies.)
  • How to Do a Perfect Plié (This involved extremely detailed instructions about “squeezing your butt” so it didn’t stick out.)
  • How to Reverse Dab (described as “the move that took the world by storm”)
  • How to Play the Cello (yes, she really brought her cello)
  • How to Tell Time in a Room with No Clock (This manual gave step-by-step instructions for raising your hand, asking to go to the restroom, and then using the break to check the time on the clock in the hall.)
  • How to Get a Girlfriend (which was adorable)
  • How to Annoy a Teacher (This one was well-researched, thorough, and expertly executed. My “favorite” step was #3: “Raise your hand. When called on, pretend to think about a question for about 6 seconds, then say, ‘I forgot.’ Repeat this step 3-5 times.”)

[Note: This lesson was not my idea. I got it from one of my awesome coworkers.]

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How to Make a Clay Dog; How to Do a Perfect Plié; How to Make a Ninja Star; How to Make Space Buns (still not sure why she only brought in the Barbie’s HEAD to use as a model); How to Draw a Ninja; How to Make Cookie Dough

However, it hasn’t all been red pens and progress reports. Last week, for spring break, my hubby and I spent a few days at a cabin in Montana with no TV, no internet, no papers to grade, and no SCHOOL! Er… sort of. Actually the cabin was renovated from an old one-room schoolhouse, so it did have a chalk board, and some of the original desks, and pictures of the students, and several vocabulary flashcards. Yeah, now that I think about it, that was a strange choice of spring break getaway. But it was beautiful and severely lacking in stress. We saw lots of elk and bison, and I read a lot of books and made my first snowman. It was wonderful.

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ANY WRITING NEWS?

A little. Back in January, I forgot to share the link to my story “Reap,” which was published at Daily Science Fiction just after the new year. You can read it for free here.

And last month, the nonfiction beginning reader I wrote about octopuses and squids came out through the Scholastic Reading Club. If you have a kindergartner or first grader who’s interested in the ocean, you should check out the Smart Words Beginning Reader Pack #6: Ocean Animals in the April Seesaw catalogue because it includes my book and four others!

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There it is! Right next to Pete the Cat!

IMG_20170315_144204ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW?

Um… Staedtler Triplus Fineliners make excellent grading pens. And lukewarm coffee is better than no coffee at all, especially when a student is following detailed instructions about how to annoy you. And you should always stay on the path at Mammoth Hot Springs so you don’t accidentally get boiled alive. And the next time I blog, I’ll try to be a little more focused and a little less covered in dust and cobwebs.

Anyway, I promise to keep typing.

Posted in Random, Writing

Guest Post, Horror, YA, & The Mysterious Disappearance of March

 

March is almost over, which is just weird. Where did it go? No, I mean, seriously, where did March go? I feel like I blinked and missed it. But then I look at my to-do lists and my all-done lists and I realize that a lot of it went where months always go—into books and poems and computer screens and dog walks and libraries and schools and, sometimes, into the very bottom of bags of Milano Double Chocolate cookies. And that’s okay.

I wanted to post here one more time before March waves its final goodbye, to catch you up on some things you might have missed and some things that are happening now and some things to look forward to in the future.

First and foremost… this is my new favorite t-shirt.

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Awesome, right? I think so too. Ok, moving on.

Guest Post News

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a guest post called “Tuning in to Good Writing” for the WOW! Women on Writing blog. If you missed it, you should check it out here. Feel free to leave a comment on their site about what kind of music you listen to when you write.

Horror News

My short story “The Other House” is out now in the latest issue of Under the Bed. You can download it here it for just $3.99. And if you buy it by Friday, April 1, 2016, you can enter the coupon code SPRINGSALE to get 50% off. $2.00 for five stories is a pretty good deal. My story was inspired by my friend’s three-year-old daughter and her vivid imagination. I hope you enjoy it!

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YA News

Lastly, I am SO excited to announce that my short story “Teardrops and Watermelon Seeds” has been accepted for publication in Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things and Spark: A Creative Anthology. Writers, like parents, probably aren’t supposed to have favorites among their literary children, but this coming of age YA story with magical realism holds a special place in my heart, and I’m thrilled that it’s found a home in these beautiful publications. I don’t yet know which issues will include my work, but I promise to keep you posted.

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Well, that’s it. Now March can blow on out of here and April can have its turn. Let’s all agree to slow down a bit and enjoy it, shall we?

Posted in Lists, Random

5 Reasons to Follow Me on Facebook

1. My Facebook page is very popular with cats.

Gabby on Facebook

2. I have a different profile picture on Facebook, so it’s kind of like following a whole different person.

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3. Find out about upcoming publications before they’re announced here, and learn where you can hear me read or join me for a literary event.

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4. When I get 200 followers on Facebook, I’ll start hosting some contests and giveaways.

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5. By only following my blog, where (believe it or not) I actually take time to think about what I post, you’re missing out on off-the-cuff gems like these:

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And just in case you need one more reason…

BONUS REASON #6. More pet pics.

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I hope to see you on Facebook!