Monday, September 30, 2013

Open Letter to my Sister-in-Law

Heather, I'm sorry.

I just couldn't help myself.

I saw the pattern, and I couldn't resist. HapkidoKid and I were watching a shark show one day while I was babysitting, so I know he'll appreciate it. And I can't knit something for HapkidoKid and not knit something for Rambo.

Maybe they won't fit (although, that would be bad seeing as these are their Christmas presents).

I refuse to turn into Aunt Clara. I will only knit them boy things. And what's more BOY than a shark hat...

They aren't too shark-like, are they?


Oh, and by the way

Friday, September 27, 2013

Race Relations

Last Friday, I was asked to cover a different class on my prep period. Luckily, I was finally caught up with the math classes, so I could do this (without stressing myself out).

I arrived in the classroom to find half the class was from my first period CAHSEE math prep class. As it was a special ed group, the room had six students.

They had an assignment. They were working in two groups of three. They were on task until near the end of the period.

A student from group one addressed Jose who was working in the other group. Marcus, his partner, answered. Instead of saying something along the lines of, "I was talking to Jose," the student said something different.

"You're not white."

Marcus looked down at his arm in surprise. "What? I'm not white!? When did that happen? What did you guys do to me?"

Which was so ridiculous I didn't even try to hide my laughter.

Marcus explained that this was his response any time anyone used the "you're not white" line on him. So, apparently that's the usual thing people say to him when he responds to a comment or question not directed at him.

Jose, on the other hand, was also offended. "I'm not white. I'm Mexican."

The question the boy asked? If I caught it, it got lost in the stuff that came after.

Come to think of it, I might have been the only white person in that room. Not that it matters, really. (There's a reason I don't mention race too frequently on the blog.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Other World Portals, Part 2

Briane Pagel's comment on last week's "what if?" is the basis for this week's. Because it's an interesting idea. And I've been so swamped that all my deep thoughts have fled the brain. I hope they'll return...

What if you were suddenly transported to a different world or realm? Would you think you'd gone utterly and completely mad? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Major Award

Every Wednesday (hmmm, that would be today) Crystal Collier hosts Writerly Wednesdays which highlights a different young adult author each week. There's also a two-truths-and-one-lie contest with a prize drawing for all those that guess correctly.

Why am I bringing this up?

A couple weeks ago, I was the winner. See my prize.

Cool, huh? This was from C.M. Keller. I got an ecopy of the book as well. (Which I'll read one of these days. You should see my Nook library. Or, then again, maybe you'd better not.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Geometry Intelligence Test

It took them a while to get me a class set of geometry textbooks. But once they were in, I found that it was easier to not use them. I had sort of a rhythm going. (Don't worry. We were using workbooks they already had.)

But then one day I needed to use the textbooks. So, we passed them out. But because of the way the day was configured, I wanted the books collected and put back at the end of the period.

The shelves were neatly arranged. Five books would fit on each half of the shelf. (I'm so glad I took a picture of this. I can't describe accurately what the configuration should look like, but I can show you easily.) The geometry textbooks are the blue ones. The red ones are the algebra 1 books.

At the end of the period, I had a student from each row return the books. I explained that there should be five books in each slot. And they managed to put everything back where it went. Except for one student.

One student was out in the restroom when it was time to put back books. When he returned, he had a book to replace. He went to the back bookshelf...

I watched. I wondered if he would figure it out on his own or if I would have to explain.

He looked at the shelves. As his was the only book not put back, there would be one slot open for him. Sure enough, he found the one section with four books and put his book there.

And I didn't have to say a word.

I was impressed. It's good to know that the geometry students can figure it out without my input. I hope this bodes well for the rest of their school year.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tweaking the Seating Chart

The math class in which I started off the school year? I'm still there.

(No more links back. I promise. If you're coming in to this late, just scroll back for the last two weeks. You'll get the idea.)

The algebra classes were starting to get a little squirrely, so rather than let that continue, I decided to separate the little groups that were forming. I redid the seating chart. In alphabetical order.

They hated it. So, score! Bonus points: the alphabetical seating chart managed to separate the little groups very nicely.

View of the classroom, without students
Jake had been sitting right up front, right in front of me. He was a little wiggly, but pretty good, so I thought nothing of it when the new seating chart put him in the back of the room.

Day 1, I heard a bit of a commotion coming from the back of the room. Jake. He was throwing (or mock throwing) paper at a neighbor. And suddenly he was talking when he shouldn't have been talking. Playing around.

I warned him. I told him that if he couldn't handle sitting in the back, there were eight other students who would be more than willing to give up their seats to switch with him.

The next day he did it again. I knew just who to switch his seat with.

He was not pleased. "I'll be good." Yeah, after getting a couple warnings, now you'll be good? I don't think so.

Back in the front, he was more wiggly. But now I could keep a better eye on him.

The girl who switched places with him? Turns out she and the girl now sitting next to her have a lot in common. That they can't stop talking about. During a test.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Temporary Anne Blog Tour

Oops, I'm a day late with this. So sorry. If you're following along, the next stop of the blog tour was posted yesterday.

THANKS to everyone who's following the Temporary Anne blog tour!  

The story This Is How I... continues on Rusty Carl's blog, The Blutonian Death Egg. Click here to go read it

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lost Cell Phone

Last Friday as period 4 came in a student brought up a cell phone. She found it on or near her desk (she didn't say). I accepted it and put it aside.

While students aren't supposed to use cell phones at school, they are allowed to have them on their persons. The phones are supposed to be powered off and put away. And as long as I don't see them, I don't worry about them.

So, a lost cell phone will be returned to the student.

But that's not what got the other students' attention.

"You should keep it."

"Give it to me. I can hack it."

"Oh, wait. That's my phone."

The student that lost the phone should be grateful that those students didn't find it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Other World Portals

A favorite story premise of mine has the main character ending up in a different world, either by going through a portal or somehow ending up on a different world. But one thing we only see glimpses of in those stories is my question for today.

What if someone you are close to up and disappeared to one of these other realms? What would you think? What would you think if they suddenly reappeared telling stories of other worlds?  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Temporary Anne Blog Book Tour: Day Three

This is DAY THREE of the release tour for my newest book, Temporary Anne.

Temporary Anne is a horror story about a woman so desperate to avoid Hell -- the fate for the evil she's done during her life -- that she makes things infinitely worse after her death.

To celebrate the release, I'm doing a blog tour in which I'm writing a short story, LIVE, with your help!  At each stop, I'll do an installment of the story and you can suggest where it goes next!

Below is PART THREE of the story.

PART ONE appeared on Tina Downey's Life Is Good, PART TWO on Andrew Leon's Strange Pegs, and if you didn't catch either, click here to read PART ONE and HERE to read PART TWO

This Is How I... PART THREE: 

"YOU!" she says again, and I see her.

She is a vision -- not least because she is glowing, not least also because if there is anyone as sexy as her, anywhere, in the entire world, then I've never met her.

Technically, I've never met her, either, although this is the third time she has shown up in these... visions? They're not visions anymore, not now that Stephen King's lifeless body is being picked up and flung at her, not now that seven security guards are dead and I can hear the police sirens outside and even... is that a helicopter? Helicopters?

Perhaps I should be leaving, too, but the monsters have never paid any real attention to me, just acting out their horror shows in my mind and then in phantasms before me and now for real, but even the idea that maybe this time I will have more than a box seat at the show is not enough to make my legs move, to tear me away from the podium.

I do crouch down a bit as she -- dressed, for some reason, in a band outfit from my old high school, this time -- runs full speed at the Beast, who meets her with a gallomping, salivating ROAAAAAR!!!!, tentacles whipping around, still in some cases coated in the blood of the security guards, arms ripping out seats, mouths growing extra teeth-- I hadn't known it could do that!, I'm starting to regret ever dreaming this thing up -- as the woman suddenly stops, so suddenly it is as if our rules of inertia do not apply to her, and she takes off the towering, shiny hat that she has on, and points the open end up in the air.

Tentacles grab her, mouths bear down on her, muscular scaled arms throw seats at her, and she pays them no mind as she pulls at the brim of the hat and widens it, stretches it beyond what it could possibly reach, and I watch as one two three chairs disappear into the hat that is suddenly wide enough to take them.

The Beast gives another ROAAAARRR!! but this one seems weaker -- frightened almost, and I see the Drum Major grin and jump at him.  Her hands, one on each side of the hat, pull it even wider, and the tentacles that had been reaching for her are sucked into the hat's empty opening.

The sound went something like this:


Kind of.

As the hat sucked the Beast into it, and suddenly the Drum Major was crouching on top of her own hat, in the midst of the wreckage of what had been a Nobel Prize ceremony, the hat writhing and struggling and muffled roars coming from it.  It had shrunk back down to regular size, nearly, but was clearly stuffed full of something -- stuffed full of Beast!-- and she let out muffled grunts as she pushed down on it. 

The doors to the auditorium burst open.

"Don't just run! Stand there!" she yelled at me.

I turned and started to run as voices from the exits yelled at us and the sounds of sirens and screams was overwhelming.  Drum Major was just behind me as I got to the edge of the stage; just a few feet past the curtain when I looked back, she had her arms wrapped around the still-struggling hat.

"Do you need help?" I shouted over the din as soldiers -- soldiers!-- poured into the empty, devastated cavernous space.  

"Didn't you hear me?" she yelled back.  "I said stand there!"



What happens next? USE THE COMMENTS TO HELP LIZ DECIDE, and watch for the next installment:

The Tour Dates: 

1. Life Is Good: Friday 9/13
2. Strange Pegs: 9/16

The FIRST REVIEWS ARE IN:  "It's fascinating. If you like horror, this is definitely a book worth reading."-- Andrew Leon

"Another chilling tale from the author of The Scariest Thing You Can't Imagine. ...Pagel's style reminds me a lot of Vonnegut's work in that while the narration seems jaunty with its humorous asides and such, there's a lot of hidden depth to that narration."-- PT Dilloway.

As an added bonus, for today only I am making my sci-fi/horror classic book ECLIPSE free today!  Click here to download the amazing story of Claudius: he wanted to be the first man to reach the stars-- but it was murder to get there.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Did I Miss?

I met the girl before. She has one of those unusual names, which means that I'm more likely to remember having to read that name while calling roll.

The class was a CAHSEE math prep class. All the students in it had failed the CAHSEE.

So, we were going over fractions. Finding common denominators. Going from mixed numbers to improper fractions and back again. Reducing.

I caught the girl rolling her eyes. Trying to sleep. I sat her in the front to keep her from constantly talking to her neighbor.

Then one day she was absent.

Later that day, at lunch, she came in. Turned out she was late to school, so she was sent to tardy sweep.

She explained what had happened. (Long story involving carpool and filling the car with gas.) Apologized. Promised not to miss class again. And asked for the assignment she missed. Turned in her homework from the previous day.

I had to scrape my jaw off the floor. (After she left, of course.)

Must not judge students. They do care about their education.

And to be fair, the class is pretty dreary. Remedial. I don't really blame her for being bored.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spoiled by Technology

I've been a little absent from the internet the last week or so. Remember that class that I covered for the first two days of school? I covered them for the second full week as well. And I've been scrambling to keep up.

On day one I walked in to find a room with desks and that was about it. (Okay, there was one set of books, a working computer, and the usual stuff a classroom should have.) The room was so devoid of stuff that I didn't even have a document camera and projector.  

Yep, I'm spoiled. It's a math class. Math teachers need document cameras and projectors. Otherwise, they end up talking to the board, and that's the quickest way to lose a class.  

Turned out, there was an old, decrepit overhead projector sitting over in the corner. That turned out to work perfectly fine. So, since I had no other options, the overhead projector it was. 

The classes went with it. It was a bit awkward, but we had to keep up. They had a test that first week.  

Then on Wednesday just after 2nd period, I got a delivery. Books. (I had books for one of the classes but not the other two.) Teacher's editions. (I had been using copies.) And a document camera and projector.  

I had about five minutes to get it all set up. As the students were walking into class. But I didn't care. I didn't have to use the overhead anymore.  


Friday, September 13, 2013

Air Conditioner Bliss

It was the first week of school, so obviously, it had to be the hottest week of the summer. Luckily, the classroom's air conditioning unit worked perfectly. I had the room set at a comfortable temperature all day, so much so that I was surprised by how hot it was outside.

About half way through the day, the principal made an announcement.

"Teachers, if you are running your air conditioning..."

No. No. Absolutely not. He wouldn't. That's just mean. Too cruel. I won't do it.

"...Make sure that your classroom door and windows all remain closed."

Oh, is that it?

I looked over at the closed classroom door. The windows were too high for me to reach, and I didn't have one of those long pole thingies that can open those, so I was safe there.


He scared me there. I thought he was going to ask us to turn off the a/c.

I mean, it was really, really hot.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Burn Notice Generated Question

Burn Notice is one of my favorite shows. It ends its run today. Sigh.

While I love sci fi and fantasy, I do enjoy other genres. Burn Notice is one of a very few shows that I enjoy watching over and over again. While most of the TV shows I like I watch an episode once and I don't need to see it again, I enjoy each Burn Notice episode whether it be the first, second, or fifth viewing.

I'll be sad to see it go. This season has been...different. Good different or bad different? I'm not sure. Depends on how it ends. Tonight (but it'll probably be the weekend before I get a chance to see the episode).

But this isn't my Friday random TV show day. This is Thursday. And something that happened in the penultimate episode got me thinking. This isn't a particularly new question. It's not innovative in any way. But it can generate stories. It has in the past.

What if you had to get out of town in a hurry, leaving everything and everyone you know behind?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wilder Mage Is Here

I'm sure you've already heard. CD Coffelt's new book has been out a couple weeks now, and I'm sure you've already picked it up. Right?

Well, if you haven't:

Wilder Mage

The earthquake wasn’t his fault. Not this time. 

Justus Aubre is a wilder. A mage unbound to the Imperium, and therefore a dangerous wild card in their eyes. The Imperium wants him, wants his power, but Justus has hidden for many years and now has some semblance of a normal life. All that’s about to change when Sable Rounds walks through the door of his antique shop, looking for work. Justus instantly knows what Sable is, he just doesn’t know the danger he’s in.

Alone, also on the run from the Imperium, Sable longs for a normal life. For somewhere to belong. She finds this when Justus hires her, but she knows it’s temporary and fragile, an illusion. Though she hates to think about it, she knows that one day she will have to move on.

The Imperium is always behind her, waiting. When they finally find Sable, they find Justus. And all hell’s about to break loose.

CD Coffelt lives outside Maryville, Missouri with a bemused husband and way too many cats. She adores all things fantasy with a special love for urban and epic.

With a passion for good writing and Doritos as companions, locating Middle-Earth on a dusty road in rural Missouri wasn’t difficult. All it took was a little Magic, hours of reading, and an overactive imagination. 

You can visit her blog at

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Multiplying Incorrectly

It was the second day of school. I was just getting first period started when Mr. Claus arrived. He informed me that he was going to be the instructional assistant for the class.

I have worked with Mr. Claus in the past. I've subbed for the teacher he's usually paired with, and he's also been the IA in other classes I've covered. So, when he arrived I nodded and gave him a copy of what we were working on.

Mr. Claus is not his real name. When telling school stories, I don't use real names. But Mr. Claus is a very fitting alias for the man. I'm sure you have a pretty good image of what he looks like in your head right now.

The class was a CAHSEE math prep class. It's a class students who failed the math portion of the CAHSEE are required to take. Turns out, half the students are special ed, so that's why an IA was assigned. Score!

I was demonstrating some math questions for the class. It was a question involving percents. We were supposed to calculate 40% of $125. So, I wrote out the question, did the multiplication, came up with $90...

Mr. Claus spoke up. "I don't think that answer is correct."


Mr. Claus then went on to explain to the class that while working out problems, the students should take note of whether or not their answers make sense. Since $90 is over half of $125 and the question asked for 40% which is less than half, that answer doesn't make sense.

The arithmetic gets me every time. And then I almost forgot the second half of the question--to find the sale price after the 40% was taken off.

Well, at least I demonstrated how to not do the problem...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wrong Dismissal Bell

The first day of school was last week, and this year I actually got to work it. The reason is a long story having to do with paperwork, emergency surgery, and processing times. None of which is the teacher's fault. But with legalities and such, they needed me to start off the class.

Nothing like walking in cold the first day. And then someone went and changed the bell schedule. The bell schedule! I had that puppy memorized. Now I have to start from scratch?

Well, with the help of a lovely administrator (who taught in the room I was using last year), I managed to get what I needed and get through the day.

One thing that didn't change was the two lunch schedule. Half the school has lunch before 5th period, the other half has it after. So, I ran 5th period the way I always do. When the bell ending the first lunch rang, we all ignored it.

The bell to begin the other half's 5th period rang. We all ignored it. (And by "we all" I mean that the students didn't flinch. Not a one of them even tried to pretend that that was their bell and it was time to leave.)

A couple minutes later, the principal made an announcement. He informed us all that the bell hadn't been anyone's dismissal bell, and all students should be in class.

Oops. Someone isn't familiar with the two lunch schedule.

But my one burning question was: if you've already dismissed the students, how do you go about getting them back?

I was glad that wasn't me.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Failing Successfully

As I was perusing my usual sources of articles on the internet, I ran across one from the L.A. Times. The headline: Many highly paid CEOs end up as failures, report says. The first paragraph jumped out at me:
Nearly 40% of the nation’s best-paid CEOs over the past two decades were either fired, forced to take government bailouts or in charge of companies that paid huge amounts in fraud-related claims.
I'll leave it to you to read the rest of the article if you're interested. And since it's Thursday, my intent isn't so much to point out an article you might have missed as it is to take the idea and extrapolate it so that can become fodder for future story ideas.

There are so many ways I can go at this one. Hmmm...

What if it didn't matter what you did, you'd still make lots of money anyway? (Or the opposite, no matter what you did, you couldn't get out of poverty?) 

What is your definition of success?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Temporary Anne, the Blog Tour

You know Briane Pagel don't you. Don't you.

He's got a new release as well as a blog tour:

SHE'S ALMOST HERE... and I'd advise not being here when she arrives.
My name is Anne. With each day of my life, my actions brought me closer to Hell. Now, with each day of what is left of my existence, I struggle to avoid the fate that was set out for me -- or rather, not just to avoid it, but to master it. 
A contemporary horror classic, "Temporary Anne" presents the terrifying tale of a woman who avoids eternal damnation by sending others to take her place, scrambling to avoid the minions of Mephistopheles while searching for a way to allow her ravaged body to serve her indomitable will. The frightening images -- demons made of ice, babies' souls consumed -- will stick with you for as long as Temporary Anne exists -- which is FOREVER. 

Get it on Amazon for $0.99! And watch for the blog tour where you can win free copies of this book and all my others.

  1. Life Is Good: Friday 9/13
  2. Strange Pegs: 9/16
  3. Laws Of Gravity: 9/18 (That would be here)
  4. The Blutonian Death Egg: 9/20
  5. Nigel G. Mitchell Author, Blogger, Geek: 9/23
  6. Jessica Bell Author/Musician: 9/26
  7. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Speculative Fiction Author: 9/30
  8. Jess' Book Blog: 10/3
  9. Lara Schiffbauer's Motivation For Creation: 10/7
  10. P. T. Dilloway: 10/10

For this tour, I'll be offering not only giveaways of Temporary Anne and my other books, but I'll be writing a short horror story on the go: I'll begin the story and each host and their readers will get to suggest where the story goes next. It's a blog tour like no other!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Understudy

School isn't quite back in session yet. It officially starts up this week for us. However, whether or not I work depends on whether or not there are teachers who need the day off. Until things get back into full swing for me, here's another repost. This was originally posted on August 10, 2009.

I was back at the continuation high school today. English class. They were reading Act II of The Crucible.

It was a pretty common lesson plan. Students "volunteered" to read parts, and we got through several pages. Then they answered questions about the section that we read.

It was 2nd period. I was trying to drum up volunteers (before I volunteered them into roles). I explained that John Proctor had the most lines in the section we were reading. Yet, I still got an actual volunteer for the part. Score!

Reading aloud is kind of interesting. Sometimes (especially at the continuation high school) we get readers who don't read very well. It makes for a painful experience. And it takes forever to get through anything. So, I was happy that our John Proctor was a pretty good reader. Things went smoothly--for a while.

Slowly, John realized that I wasn't kidding when I said the role was a large one. And he had just about enough. I could tell he was losing steam. Then, suddenly, another boy was reading John Proctor's part.

I hadn't noticed anything. We had been reading, and the students had kept up with their parts. John 1 read one line, then Elizabeth Proctor said something, and John 2 read the next line. I had no idea how the two boys communicated the switch in parts. We had not planned for such an eventuality. And I was in front of the class the entire time, watching the class (well, okay, I was watching the book more than the class).

Since it made little difference to me, I just went with it. At least the flow of the play continued (I've had readings not go so smoothly). Unfortunately, John 2 wasn't as accomplished a reader as John 1.

We got through Act II. They answered their questions. And I get to do this again tomorrow.