One to Watch: David Pino

I love hearing the news that a former student is making waves in writing. In my One to Watch series, I highlight up and coming former students who are using writing to do great things. David Pino was in my Advanced Placement English Class seven years ago at a school called Sacramento Charter High. He knew more about most of the curriculum than I did, and was an encyclopedic resource for our Mythology and Archetype unit.  Also, I can never read Frankenstein again without thinking of his brilliant dramatic presentation of the Monster. He was a wonderful student in a…

One to Watch: Chantel Carnes

I love hearing the news that a former student is making waves in writing. In my One to Watch series, I highlight up and coming former students who are using writing to do great things. Chantel Carnes was in my Advanced Placement Language and Composition course five years ago when I taught at Sacramento Charter High School. She was one of those young writers whose papers I would place at the bottom of the stack when I was grading. It wasn’t fair to the other students for me to see hers first. She tended to set the bar pretty high….

Author Spotlight: Cait Spivey, author of From Under the Mountain

One of the books I’ve most enjoyed reading so far this year has been the epic fantasy adventure From Under the Mountain by Cait Spivey, released through Reuts Publications. The story is based in a mind-blowing, fantastic world meticulously built by Spivey as a young woman finds herself, after the death of her tyrannical royal family, at the head of an empire. The novel is sometimes reminiscent in the best possible way of Game of Thrones in its scope and intrigue. There is magic and intrigue and complex human relationships in a world where sexual orientation doesn’t raise eyebrows, but…

Be Generous

2016 is going great so far. Amazing great. For example, this month a friend gifted me with a two-day writing workshop with the author of the truly excellent short story collection Refund, National Book Award Finalist Karen E. Bender. I am an enthusiastic fan of Ms. Bender’s work and vision, and I was going to have the chance to work with her in a small group format. In the two-day workshop, we listened to Karen Bender’s wisdom about the craft of writing fiction. All of the participants read one another’s work and came prepared with notes on each story. Everyone got a turn for…

Ask the Quarterback to the Prom

I have a novel coming out in July of this year. My publishers asked me if I knew a few authors who would be willing to give a blurb to help promote the book I know a few authors. I attend workshops, a writer’s group, and every literary event in my vicinity that I can. I’ll stand in line for an hour to exchange a few words with someone whose books have meant something to me. (My students have suggested I am overzealous in my admiration of authors. To that I say, I am always respectful of boundaries and if anyone minds my…

5 Things Exercise Taught Me About Writing

I can do more than I think I can. When I begin, I can’t imagine finishing. Just go for ten minutes, I say to myself. Just give it a try. Focus only on this rep, this workout, this page. I try not to notice that it is five in the morning and dark outside. I once wrote ten thousand words in one day. Most days I work out before the sun rises. This isn’t the Army. This is my life. I can do more than I think I can. I can ignore the inner (and outer) naysayer.  Getting up at 4:30 in…

5 Ways I Find Time to Write

1. I found a day job that respects my boundaries. I am a full-time English teacher. Any teacher knows that this is a job that can take over a life. The best thing I ever did for my writing is find a school community that allows me to enjoy the ever elusive work/life balance. 2. Stop doing hobbies. Here is a list of hobbies I had before I finally focused on writing for good: beading, jewelry making, knitting, gluing sticks onto glass jars to make votives, making books (not writing them), gluing pictures onto notebooks and giving them to my friends, baking,…

I’ll Read to You This Saturday

This Saturday November 21st, I will be performing in a Sacramento Voices event  at the Sacramento Poetry Center ( 1719 25th St. at the corner of 25th and R) with Naomi J. Williams and Sandra McPherson. The event begins at 4:30 and goes until 6 p.m. Renowned poet and teacher Phillip Larrea invited me, much to my shock and delight. This is all very exciting to me. I even made an appointment to get my hair fixed that morning. Whatever. Here’s what it is: I’ve been writing for the reading pleasure of about three other people for the past twenty years. My writing…

Blogs I Follow

Two days left on this blog-a-day exercise for September. Stats say that people like it best when I talk about my hair. This is not a blog post about my hair, though a student I don’t even teach told me today he loved my hair and when I asked him if it was because it reminded him of his nana, he said no.  So that was nice. Today I want to take a bow to other blogs I frequent. They don’t fit into any category. They are well written and I like them for different reasons. Maybe you will too, so…

Maxwell Perkins Is My Homeboy

Maxwell Perkins was literary editor to Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. Perkins was responsible for helping forth such classics as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Great Gatsby and many more American works that we take for granted as integral to the literary heritage of our country. Maxwell Perkins is perhaps most famous for teasing out the best possible work from recalcitrant, alcoholic, undisciplined writers. I picture him at his desk, so handsome and sure. So knowledgeable and intelligent. You can do this work, he says. I believe in you. What a powerful talisman is a…