#CampNaNoWriMo Update: In the Home Stretch! Thanks @NaNoWordSprints

I will be under 10,000 words by the end of the day today, and hope to wrap up my novel draft tomorrow. It’s been harder than I thought finding time to work on the novel. I kept having stuff come up! Very frustrating at times. What do you mean you want something to eat, cat? Can’t you see I’m writing here?

Okay, I also started reading a new book and got sucked right in. Yes, it was that good. I couldn’t put it down until the end. Fortunately I only lost two days.

Provided I finish on schedule, I will use the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo to edit one of my other novel drafts. The plan is to eventually start posting chapters here. What’s the point of writing a story if you never share it?

The wonderful people providing word sprints at the @NaNoWordSprints twitter account are the best. I’ve relied on them through the entire month to keep my word count inching up. They really inspired me to keep going. Thank you, everyone!

In August I will be busy getting ready for the classes I teach this fall. I will be teaching a new one, and I’m excited to select curriculum and activities for my students. Until then, you can find me on twitter and at my keyboard. Good luck to everyone out there working on their novels!

Camp NaNoWriMo is going great so far

I’m happily ahead on my word count and working hard today on the holiday because tomorrow I have stuff happening that will force me to leave the house. Booo!

Anyway, this is me on the Camp NaNo website. When @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter is active that’s where I’m at. If anyone knows of other places people are word sprinting, let me know!

Camp NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, the novel writing event that happens in November branched out to holding events in April and July. The work schedule doesn’t allow me to participate in the November event, so my best chance to write a novel is in July. This year, I’ll be attempting 50,000 words starting in a couple of days.

I have a story, characters, a basic plot line in my head. This is actually something I started working a year ago.

Looking forward to Saturday when I can begin working on it.

The Summer Where I Got Nothing Done

Labor Day is coming, and I look at this blog and want to weep.

The worst part of people finding out you’re a writer means they want you to spend time writing stuff you don’t want to write. I quit the freelancing racket over a year ago because I was back to being employed full-time and I wanted to focus on my novels, maybe even crank out a few short stories again.

Nope, not happening.

July came and went due to the county planning commission editing their bylaws, and me being the secretary means I can drop everything and hammer out twenty pages of rules, procedures and citing portions of state law that have silcrows (THIS THING -> § ) in them, right? It took me three weeks to get it done. A month later after I retyped this twenty page document, edited the bad grammar, improper punctuation and spent time looking up state law to make sure I did everything correctly, the County Commissioner liaison decided all of my work could be thrown out the window because she looked at the bylaws from another county and they only had four pages. Four pages is easier to read through than twenty. I could have told her that. Punctuate this with my mother needing cataract surgery, I was in and out of the doctor’s office, the optometrist’s office, and the cat managed to get sick.

And that was July.

August came, and I had to cram all of the work getting ready for the school year into a matter of weeks which means I once again had to put my creative writing aside and work.

It never ends. It’s a vicious cycle. I accomplished nothing I wanted to do this summer, and now the summer’s over. At least this fall I start work prepared, which means less time scrambling night and day putting my school day together. That’s something to be happy about, right? Nanowrimo’s coming up too.

Who am I kidding …

I’ve been writing so much lately

There are 18 days of school left. As you can imagine, my first year back to work full time has been challenging.

I’m writing lesson plans

I’m writing tests

I’m developing creative projects for my students so they can have some hands-on experience.

Did I mention I’m the secretary of my local Democratic Party? I get to type up minutes for meetings now, and post to our Facebook page. They keep talking about a website too, which means I could be doing more writing.

Oh yes, I’m writing all the time – for work. Not much time left writing for pleasure.

Keep telling myself I really need to make the effort until I realized I’m making a hell of a lot of effort.

Just not where I want to make the effort.

When You Stop Writing Because You’re Reading

Not sure if other writers do this, but I know I do. I will start researching something for my writing … and before I know it I  get sucked into reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on before I get back to writing.

So far I’ve read just about everything I could find online, bought two books and really want to buy a third except the $25 price tag is making me hesitate. Not the first time for something like this to happen. I do this ALL THE TIME. I let one of my drafts sit on my hard drive for far too long because of the sudden obsession to read whatever I could find before writing another word.

Is this a problem, or a part of the writing process?

Michigan Department of Educations Issues Guidelines For LGBTQ Student Safety and the Michigan GOP Reacts Predictably: Open Comment Period Extended To May 11, 2016

About a month ago Michigan public school teachers attended mandatory professional development sessions on providing safe learning environments for LGBTQ students. The program caused enough discussion that school districts reached out to the State Board of Education for help.

The State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education developed the guidance at the request of schools and educators asking for recommendations of best practices in creating more supportive learning environments for LGBTQ students, who are at greater risk of suicide, and are not succeeding academically absent a supportive school environment.

School districts across the state found their policies concerning bullying and harassment of LGBTQ students horribly inadequate. Most school staff and teachers are unaware of how out of touch they are with the reality of the problems LGBTQ students face every day in school. At the beginning of the workshop last month, every staff member had to introduce who they were and what pronouns they use. “Pronouns? Why would I need to tell people my pronouns,” was a question many of the attendees asked. They had never heard of such a thing. The levels of confusion from the staff indicate how unprepared our public schools are for making them safe for everyone.

At the request of the state’s school districts, the State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education partnered with members of the LGBTQ community to draw up a set of guidelines for assisting public school districts with developing more inclusive policies to ensure all students feel safe at school. With any policy like this, the State Boar of Education requested public input on the guidelines.

What’s happened since then could potentially make adopting a policy designed to keep our kids safe into a battleground over which bathroom or locker room a student uses based on gender identity, to parent concerns that publics schools are using the issue to undermine the authority of parents by ensuring safe space for children while they are at school. Right wing media such as Daily Caller launched articles using this horrible graphic to alarm parents what Michigan public schools are doing will make children less safe at school.

Counting on people to react with fear made what should be an exercise to modify policy and ensure the safety of all children at school into a political fight. Republicans so far have been swift in punishing the State Board of Education with retaliatory moves such as stripping members of travel reimbursement and per diem, and demanding that the State Board of Education should have given parents more time to comment on the guidelines. House Speaker Kevin Cotter demanded the extension and remarked, “My hope is at the end the board will change course and not issue that recommendation.” In other words, not allow school districts to adopt the guidelines that would ensure all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to feel safe at school. Student drop-out rates and suicides are higher with LGBTQ school students because school is not always a safe place for them to be.

The Michigan State Board of Education did extend the deadline comment from the public. Anyone who wishes to leave a comment can do so here. You have until May 11, 2016 to be heard.

Hopefully, enough people who support providing guidelines for all of the children who attend Michigan public schools to learn in a safe environment will take the time to fill out the simple form. The State Board of Education needs positive support for the hard work they put into doing the right thing for our kids.

I Really Want To Work On My Novel

I wanted to work on one of my novels after coming home from work today.

That was before the principal announced since there is no bus service for our students this Friday, 99% of our students will have no ride to school. “Can you give the exams scheduled for Friday on Wednesday?”

Sure, can do. Won’t be writing my novel. Must write exams.

People like my writing. They like it so much I’m now the secretary for the county Democratic Party and the county planning commission. I get many compliments for how thorough the minutes are now. This also means I spend my weekends typing up those minutes and before you know it the day is gone and it’s time to go to bed.

I would much rather work on my novel. Spring break is coming soon. A whole week of doing nothing but writing if I want. I hope the weather’s bad so I can’t spend time out of the house.

Scenes from my novel keep dancing through my head. If only I could stay awake when I get home from work.

Some Thoughts About Exit ‘167’ On Northbound US 131

North of Tustin but just south of the rest stop near Cadillac on northbound US 131, a blue sign beckons to motorists that accommodations are available from three hotels if they exit the highway using the off ramp numbered 167. A curious anomaly, because the Tustin exit on US 131 is numbered 168 and miles south of this sign.

You can’t help but wonder, is this elusive exit 167 like platform 9 and 3/4, and one must ram the sign at full-speed to exit US 131 and get to these hotels?

Or perhaps this is the route to the anti Hotel California: You can check in any time you like, if you can find it.

Perhaps like Brigadoon exit 167 only appears once every hundred years, and if you don’t vacate your hotel room by the 11 am checkout, you’re stuck there forever. What about the people who managed to find exit 167? Did they find an elusive spring of immortality and now live like the Tuck family?

Maybe it’s somewhere over the rainbow. and you have to ride a tornado to get to the three hotels listed as being available at off ramp 167.

Or it could be none of these things but instead a clever nod to Eris, Goddess of Chaos, by the Michigan Department of Transportation. After all, the numerology for 167 is obvious: 1+6+7=14, and 1+4=5. Discordians occasionally look for signs from Eris when they randomly need a Discordian oracle.

Despite closely looking for it when passing by the sign, exit 167 has yet to reveal itself. Every morning it’s the the rest stop and then exit 176, one of four exits to the town of Cadillac.

But that elusive fifth exit 167, north of exit 168 … maybe today will be the day.