Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Hate Making my Students Cry

"I made a difference for that one." ~Loren Eisley

I hate making my students cry.


And I'm not talking about the crying that takes place when they get a bad grade, or feel overwhelmed and can't get their work done, or don't get into their first-choice college, though there are always tears in those cases too.

But I hate this one day of the year when I talk about bullying with my education students/future teachers, because I know it's going to upset them and I know it's something we have to talk about anyway.

See, the talking itself wouldn't be bad. But I have this episode of "Without a Trace" that I show, and it centers on bullying and in fact leads one middle school boy to attempt suicide. It's a pretty intense episode, and I always warn my students ahead of time and tell them they can leave if they want to.

But they always think they're going to be fine -- then the end scene hits. The episode does have a relatively happy ending, in case you're wondering, but the bullying/suicide portrayal itself is pretty disturbing, and it always affects a couple of my students pretty hard.

Yesterday a full half of them ending up in the bathroom, crying. And yeah, I felt pretty lousy about it. I mean, it's not that I'm trying to torture them. I think very carefully every year about whether I should show it, and I always end up deciding "yes," because I think the ways it makes them think is important.

We can't always talk about the good things, can we? We have to address the problems and look at the heartbreak in order to fix it. And I think on some level they know that. They're seniors, after all, a scant few months from graduation and the real world. We -- or, rather, they - have to be the difference in the way the future will unfold. They have to know that they can do something, even one thing, as individuals, to stop hurtful behavior, and it will make a difference.

Do you know the starfish story? It's a classic among educators:

The Starfish Story
Original Story by: Loren Eisley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”I made a difference for that one.”

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gin the Dancing Dog

It's the end of the week, I have a stack of papers to grade, I'm gearing up to start my own Book-in-a-Month project (tomorrow!), and so I leave you with this smile for today:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Do You Do When...

"Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it." ~Truman Capote

I'm in a funny place right now: between projects. (Well, between writing projects, that is. I have more than enough projects from all other aspects of my life going on. But writing?) I finished the revision of One Night in Napa a few days ago and haven't looked at it since. I'm still mulling over what to do with Summer's Song. I have no articles due for ezines at the moment. I'm done judging the EPPIES, and I haven't taken on any other books to review right now. I'm gearing up for my NaNo project, but I haven't done much in the way of thinking or planning for it.

So...I haven't done any kind of writing in close to 4 days. And I gotta say, it's a little bit of a weird feeling. I have some ideas of future stories rattling around in my head, but I haven't even given them much time to speak of.

It's a little like working out or running, to be honest. Some days it's a joy to do; other days it's more like torture; but when you don't do it for a while, you feel as though something's missing.

So for all my fellow writers out there: what do you do when you're not writing? Or are you always, somehow, someway, writing?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Jeff Rivera

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! I'm especially excited about today's featured author, since his story is one of those "literary lotteries" that happen once in a blue moon. Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever my Lady. Here's the scoop on its remarkable journey to publication:

"Originally independently published, Jeff Rivera's debut novel, Forever My Lady went on to be acquired by Warner Books/Grand Central. It tells the award-winning passionate story of a juvenile delinquent named Dio who is sentenced to prison boot camp. Everyone who he has ever trusted has given up on him except one special girl that promises to stay by his side no matter what, the love of his life, Jennifer. He promises he will to turn his life around for her and she promises will never leave him. In fact, they plan to marry one day. But when Dio is released from boot camp he discovers Jennifer is about to marry someone else.

"Forever My Lady was featured in national magazines, on national television and radio including: The Boston Globe, Miami Herald, Rotarian Magazine, Urban Latino Magazine, VOY, Right On! Magazine, NPR, American Latino TV, SITV and was awarded Best New Author Award and the Best Urban Fiction Award and by the Mahogany Media Review. His first novel, Forever My Lady (published by Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing) became a critical media darling having received over 45 reviews on Amazon, over 30 reviews on and was given 5 stars by's #1 Book Reviewer Ms. Harriet Klausner. Rivera is fast at work on his next novel as well as the sequel to Forever My Lady and anticipates its independent release in 2008. "

Jeff stopped by today to answer a few questions about his work. Let's find out a little bit more..

You have a lot of controversial topics in your book, prostitution, gang warfare, child abuse yet you somehow were able to turn it into a heart-wrenching love story. Why did you find it necessary to include such topics?

I think as an artist, it's important to realize the responsibility you have in affecting the world around you. Those are all topics that realy happen in the world along with love issues as well. So, I knew that if I was given the gift of this story and I had an opportunity to really move people with this story what a great opportunity to ground this almost fantastical love story with real life issues.

You were born in Utah, raised in Oregon but have lived everywhere in the United States from Las Vegas to New York. How has the affected your writing style?

That's a good question. I think one thing it really did, Allie, was it helped me see people's perspectives on life easier. Had I been raised only in Oregon and still lived there, I never would have seen or experienced the shifts in personalities that each city has. Each city as a whole has a very distinct personality almost as if they're one gigantic entity. At the same time one thing it really helped me realize is that truly wherever you are from the same common issues that we all face are with each person. This is why I chose to write about love. We all know what it's like to experience the desire for someone so much so that we cannot breathe and the feeling of heartache as if we had our heart ripped out and stomped on by the one person we hoped to be forever with.

The love interest in the book's name is Jennifer. Why did you choose to make one of the only Latina characters a prostitute?

I was so worried about that. But I chose that as her "profession" because both Dio, the main character and Jennifer are victims of child abuse and you really get to see how it affects both of them in different ways. I hope that it is a warning in some way for anyone who is thinking about abusing their children how it can affect them. Also, I hope that it will connect with others who are lost in that world that somehow they can find their own self-worth just like Jennifer eventually does.

You seem to have a passion for writing about love. Would you say you're a romantic at heart?

Very much so. I'm a total sap when it comes to love. Some friends might say I fall to hard too easily. But it's such a great feeling and I really do believe in souls destined for each other and all that sort of thing. I really do, however, I have learned that there's more than just one choice. There could be several soul mates or twin flames out there for you.

Jeff, thanks so much for being here today, and good luck with the sales of your book! Readers, you can find out more by visiting his website here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Romance and Chocolate for Valentine's Day!

"If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are." ~Oprah Winfrey

I know it's still a few months away, but I wanted to mention the AWESOME book signing event I'll be participating in on February 7th, 2009: Romance and Chocolate at the Farmington, CT Borders. Check it out (just posted on Stella Price's blog):

Romance and Chocolate Event: Feb 7th 2009 at the Farmington CT Borders

13 authors will be on hand for a fun and romantic event called the Romance and Chocolate Event. Authors of different kinds of romance will be on hand selling and signing books, and attendees will be treated to refreshments, snacks, goodies and lots of free stuff and will also have the opportunity to win one of 6 romance inspired gift baskets. What authors?

Stella Price
Tilly Greene
Jessica Andersen
Cat Johnson
Allie Boniface
Isabelle Santiago
Toni Andrews
Marie Force
Kristan Higgins
Denise Egan
Emily Bryan
Kathryn Smith
Annette Blair

Hope to see you there!

I'm particularly excited because some of those authors are fairly well-established, NY authors (I've linked to a couple of their websites, just for kicks).

So if you're anywhere in the area, mark February 7th, 2009 on your calendars and come on out and join us!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Love Your Blog

Diane gave me this "award" last week, and then Brenna did...and then Marianne did. So wow - thanks, guys! That makes me feel really loved in blogger world. The rules are that I'm supposed to pass it on to 7 other blogs I enjoy reading, but I have a terrible confession to make: I don't think I have 7 other blogs I read regularly enough to make that call! I visit Marianne and Liz almost every day; I drop by Diane and Dru and Chandler during the week if I can, and I pop into Pub Rants or BookEnds when I remember to.

But otherwise, I don't have enough time in my day to blog hop. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I did - it would be easier than this dratted writing thing. The good news is that I finished my second revision of One Night in Napa, which is a huge relief and accomplishment. I've sent it out to a handful of agents, just to see if I get any bites. If not, I'll submit it to Samhain with fingers crossed.

And yes, I have every intention of starting my NaNo project this-coming Saturday: a literary/romance/paranormal effort tentatively titled Entwined.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Good News for a Sunday

"I never read a book before reviewing it - it prejudices a man so." ~Sydney Smith

My Sunday Good News:

One Night in Memphis received a 5-Heart review from The Romance Studio! In part, the reviewer (the same one who gave One Night in Boston 5 Hearts last year) wrote,

"I highly recommend this book. It is well written, highly suspenseful and one great read. And just wait for the sensual parts. There’s just nothing I don’t like about this book and that includes the unexpected ending..."

You can read the whole review here.

Happy Sunday!