And…I’m officially a published poet!

Check it out!!!! Thanks to a group of absolutely amazing friends of mine, I am now officially a published poet in a poetry ebook along with a bunch of talented poets and artists and I am beyond words excited. I’m so honored to be included in this ebook with these individuals who are so incredibly amazing.

Our book is entitled Because of a Word and can be purchased through the link below on Amazon.cover_promo

Click the link to check it out, or purchase a copy :


My fellow poets and artists:
Kait Moon, Jorge Silva Rodighiero, Katy Lewellen, Elizabeth Hope, Amy Chap, Casey Bee, Estelle Olivia, Anna Ssez, Ian Colin Roditi, Angel Rosen, Ashley Plumridge, Anita Clipston

Please join me in celebrating! I’m over-the-moon!


Nice to know I’m not alone…

I frequently read posts from Book Riot and this one hit a nerve for me:

What Counts as Reading by Danika Ellis.

It touches on what I was thinking about when I wrote this blog post a few months ago. I, too, find myself caught up in various stories, but as Ellis seems to understand there are many ways, particularly in today’s media savvy world, to convey those stories. I enjoy reading blogs, listening to NPR stories and interviews, watching Big Bang Theory, and listening to various podcasts and she’s right – they are all stories – some fiction, some non-fiction, and even some genre bending and interactive.

Oh ye Gods and Godesses of YA Non-fiction and all Classroom Library Aficionados

I teach 9th grade English and I’ve been working on building my classroom library this spring. I have a hefty amount of fictional works, but my non-fiction collection still requires some beefing up. It will get there eventually. I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have as far as non-fiction books that would appeal to 13-15-year-old students.

I’m wondering what tips and tricks you all might have found for keeping a classroom library. What words of wisdom do you have?

Reflections on Current Reading

It has been quite sometimes since I’ve kept any type of readers’ journal, but I’ve always found them to be enjoyable and worthwhile. They offer me insights into my own reading life that I might otherwise never pick up on. One does not reflect on breathing…it just happens naturally, but perhaps by reflecting on my own reading life I can help my students to become better, more thoughtful readers.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on my current read (WARNING: Potential Spoiler Alert):

I’m currently 82 pages into Dinner with Buddha by Roland Mercullo and I’m finding it difficult to put down. I’m drawn in by the characters and can sense their warmth. I am particularly fond of the childlike Rinpoche. I’m feeling somewhat skeptical of Seese’s “prophetic” dreams, but I’m willing to humor her for the time being. I’m curious to see if or how my thoughts on this will change throughout the novel. So far I think I’m more indulgent than Otto on this front, but still not convinced that this novel will pull off the promised world of peaceful co-existence by the end of its 344 pages. Or is it truly more about the journey they take to get there than the end result? I guess I’m waiting to see just like Otto.

Quotes that have made me think or that I just plain enjoyed, so far:

“You can listen to the skeptical voice and go back to New York and the life you were leading there, or you can see all the awful things that have happened to you as a preparation, a turning over of the soil so it will be ready for a new crop to be planted” (64).

“Feels like you go in circle, yes? Like you come again back on the same place, many times. Same trouble, same thinking. But it’s not true, Otto. Meditation is like a wind here in the middle pushing you up, up. You want to go up in a straight like the rocket but you really go like this, this, how you say?”

“Spring” (65).

“Americans were half-crushed by the passage of time. Our spirits were dampened, twisted, mottled, trimmed. I don’t mean we all turned into semi-humans, but, well, speaking for myself at least, there was some leaching out of the vibrancy, the joy, the faith in my absolute uniqueness, in my claim to part ownership of this earth” (70).

Authors I Have Loved (and still do!)

There are just some authors that stick with you. You’ve read so many of their works that you feel like you’ve become a part of the world they’ve created; or perhaps you’ve read one of their books so many times it has become a part of you…perhaps that is what happens? Either way, just the thought of reading something they’ve written makes you almost giddy inside.

The more I think about this topic the more authors come to mind. I feel like I’ll be editing this post until the end of time. So without more ado, here’s my list: (in no particular order)

1. Mitch Albom

2. E.B. White

3. S.E. Hinton

4. Christopher Moore

5. Chuck Palahniuk

6. Harper Lee

7. Herman Wouk

8. Robert Cormier

9. Lois Lowery

10. J.D. Salinger

11. Hunter S. Thompson

12. David Sedaris

13. Garrison Keillor

14. Augusten Burroughs

15. Jeannette Walls

16. Laurie Halse Anderson

17. John Green

18. Judy Blume

19. Markus Zusak

20. Ray Bradbury

21. Douglas Adams

22. Edgar Allan Poe

23. Charles Brockden Brown

24. H.P. Lovecraft

25. Garth Ennis

26. Art Spiegelman

27. John Layman (ill. Rob Guillory)

28. Mildred D. Taylor

Nerdy Book Thing: “neverenoughbooksitis”

About a week ago, I decided that I wanted to start a classroom library. I haven’t seen a many high school classroom libraries, but I definitely want to encourage my students to read for pleasure and not just because they have an assignment. I realized that I already own a pretty extensive collection of YA books, but I thought it might be nice to get a few more (and by “a few” I mean at least 100 more); however, I have no idea what I already have and what I don’t at this point. I came to the conclusion I’d need an inventory. That’s how it all started.

Being my pseudo-tech savvy self, I began looking for book inventory apps. I figured there had to be some sort of library application out there that would make my life easier. I was right. In fact, there is a bunch of apps to choose from. I settled on Book Catalogue (which I’m exceedingly pleased with). This is where the fun began.

What I didn’t realize in downloading this app was that I would become an obsessive bibliophilic zombie hell bent on creating my own personal inventory of not just what I wanted in my classroom library, but my OWN personal book collection as well. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? My subconscious knew exactly what kind of pandora’s box I was opening, but failed to sufficiently warn me of my impending insanity.

So far, I’m only a tiny way into the scanning of my entire personal collection, and already I’ve got 143 books listed. And yet, guess where I went today. As if that weren’t enough, I went to a used bookstore and bought five more books to add to the collection!

I think it might be time to admit I have a problem. I believe the correct medical terminology is “neverenoughbooksitis.” Anyone else suffer from this wonderous malady?

Is it cheating?

Is it cheating? Generally when one asks such a question they already know the answer; they’re just looking for validation of some sort. The fact that they’re even asking the question often indicates that they’re feeling at least a little uneasy about whatever “it” is.

As an educator, I have an aversion to anything that even remotely resembles academic dishonesty, so you might be surprised by my take on this issue. The “it” I am referring to here happens to be listening to the audiobook versus reading the same book via hard copy or ebook format.

One could argue that it isn’t technically “reading” if you use the audio format; however, I’m not entirely certain that is enough to relegate audiobooks as “cheating.” My views on this topic have changed over time. I have always loved the look, the feel, the smell of a good book. When e-books came along, I was willing to test the waters, but quickly found that I much prefer paper to plastic. There’s just something about curling up with pages to be turned and a nice cup of coffee that draws me to literature like nothing else can.

I grew up in a book-loving house. My parents both voracious readers; my father of the crime, mystery, and history genres and my mother of romance, crime, and mystery. My parents both read to me regularly as a child; a time I relished with great joy, not only for the stories, but for the time spent with my parents. I grew up loving books the way I wish every child could.

However, more recently I’ve rediscovered a deep rooted love of storytelling through story slams and podcasts. An oral history of sorts. As a child, I always enjoyed spending time with my grandparents and great grandparents. Much of this time was spent with them telling stories of their lives to entertain and instill in me a sense of belonging, rooting me in family values and traditions and in so doing also passing down appreciation of a well-told story.

This, coupled with my experiences as a teacher, have given me a different perspective on audiobooks. In the classroom, I’ve discovered that students who struggle with focus and reading fluency benefit from hearing a novel read aloud. It allows them to pick up on subtle nuances of tone. More clearly understand characters’ feelings and motivations. It allows them to step into the world the author has created.

My biggest argument in favor of audiobooks is one of accessibility. Audiobooks make a wide range of literature more accessible to individuals who would otherwise not have such access. For my students, it allows them to experience literature as something to be enjoyed instead of an overwhelming chore.

As for me, though I still prefer the flutter and turn of the page and the smell of adventure found in a good book, my busy schedule doesn’t always allow me the luxury of curling up on the couch with my coffee mug and the freshly cracked spine of a newly found gem. I have discovered that through the use of audiobooks my commute to and from work offers an excellent opportunity to keep my fingers, or in this case my ears, on the pulse of the literary community. And there’s definitely something to be said for hearing a novel read aloud, particularly by its own author. So call it “cheating” if you want, but who doesn’t enjoy story time?

Deep breath. And. GO!

Lately, I have spent a great deal of time reading others’ writings about education, books, and writing. I’ve been hanging out with all sorts of creatives and enjoying their company. With this blog, I hope to join these conversations and share them with those who might be interested. I hope to hone my own craft as I wade into the deep waters of this new journey. Perhaps I’ll even learn to swim.

My hope is to give you a brief glimpse into my disheveled and chaotic mind and perhaps find something worth gleaning; a spark, an idea, or just something to ponder. My interests are varied so my best guess would be to expect a bit of randomness, silliness, and probably even some thoughtful commentary. My hope is that this blog will allow me to connect with other creative minds. Perhaps we can inspire each other or just give each other a rose to smell in an otherwise hectic world.