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Showing posts from July, 2015

The Bully

The teacher was over six feet tall.  He walked around with a scowl on his face and was always angry with everyone. One year he was assigned a classroom down the hall from me.  By then I knew him well.  Suffice it to say I was not one of his favorite ethnic groups.  It didn’t bother me, but that dislike included the majority of the students that made up our middle school. His hate targeted the young men who looked and acted like street gangsters.  Most of those kids were just that – kids.  Some did have more street smarts than they had school smarts, but their attitude almost always was a front to cover their inability to do the class work and the homework. He picked on those boys in the privacy of his classroom, but when they fought back and sassed him, it spilled out into the hallway.  The teacher would yell close to their faces, goading them to hit him. Once they took a jab at him the teacher then had a “legal right to defend himself.” His anger toward these boys was so intens

The Day I Ran Away

I was eleven and tired of being the middle child, the one who had to help my older brother with his chores after doing my own, the one who had to look after my younger sister and make sure she didn’t cry. I decided to run away that summer because I felt no one ever noticed me unless someone needed to be blamed for something.  If I ran away, I doubted anyone would even notice. I stayed awake for several nights in a row to listen for Dad’s snores and my mother’s and grandmother’s deep breathing. It signaled they were fast asleep. During the day, I counted the steps between my bed and the front door, and I practiced opening the lock with a minimum of noise.  Since I would be running at night and the house would be dark, I tried doing it with my eyes closed.  My grandmother scolded me for my pantomime, and my mom yelled at me to go outside and see about my sister.   I made a hobo pack out of an old scarf and hid it under my pillow every night when I went to bed. Inside was a ful

Critiquing As a Gladiator Sport

          While compiling information about how to ensure a good critique, I ran across an interesting analogy.  Critiquing should not be a match between gladiators.  One person should not end up as the winner, instead both parties should benefit from the experience. Writers, like ancient gladiators, go through years of strenuous training and harsh criticism.  They parade their “wares” before numerous critique partners, literary agents, and editors, and all for a brief moment of recognition and very little monetary gain. Critiquing another person’s paper should never reach gladiator level.  It should be a helpful and valuable experience, so here are five steps to consider: 1.     Both parties prepare for the work ahead. The author chooses one target area he/she wants edited: ·        Structural/content suggestions: What was said? How well was it said? Does it make sense? Is it clear? Was something omitted or overlooked?  This includes anything concerning the plot, pacing,

The Rise and Shine Deadline Club!

Your reunion is next week and you never dropped the forty pounds you gained since high school graduation. The book report on War and Peace is due Monday and you never read past Chapter One. You were one of the several million sweating bullets at midnight on April 14 while you downloaded IRS forms. Welcome to the Rise and Shine Deadline Club!   We pray for mercy and hope no one notices the weight we gained, the book we didn’t read, or the headaches we gave ourselves because of our procrastination.  Given another chance, we vow to never do this to ourselves again If you are truly serious this time, here is a guideline. 1.       Define what the goal (diet, deadline, demand) means to you.  Is it as important as the demands everyone else makes of you and your time? Is it important enough to affect change in your habits?  It is not going to happen magically.  It is going to take work, lots of work, so are you willing to scuttle your ships and get up off your duff, and do