13 Things to Do When You’re Waiting for Your Book to Come Back from the Editor and You Don’t Have Any Papers to Grade, Either…YET

  1. Catch up on a few movies, especially those nominated for Oscars


uncle tom's cabin2. Finish a book you were trying to read for school when your own book became more important

3. Do some solid lesson planning for your last nine weeks’ unit on reading and writing Creative Non-Fiction (does poetry count?), to ensure that students will—hopefully—be active participants

4. Start another book you found last weekend at Barnes and Noble that sounded fascinating (and so far, so good!).scandalous women

5. DON’T blog. Whatever you do. Give those readers a much-needed Aimee break.

6. Maybe clean the oven—since you’ve been meaning to for more than a year now—ick.

7. Give yourself a pedicure for spring.

Toes

8. Cook dinner for your hubby a few times to make up for every night during the past five months that he’s cooked for you. He’s the best. (Thank you, Jackson!)

img_0587

9. Hold your kitty cat while having coffee one Sunday morning Cam

10. Spend way too much time pondering whether it’s time to let your hair go gray (thanks for the genes, Dad!), pouring over photo after photo of blonde/gray hair—should you finally grow those roots out? (But you’re still young!)

11.  Go see your favorite high school student-performers in the spring musical, The Little Mermaid. 

12. Consider planning a trip to Vegas to see Ricky Martin, errrr, I mean, for Jackson’s 40th birthday. RM

13. Think about what you might want to write next. Next? Like after THE BOOK next? Yes, Aimee. Next.

Hmmmmmm. I don’t know about that last one. Phew. We’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s Up for a Contest?!

Let’s play a game. I bet you can’t finish this analogy about my gorgeous husband and me: Jackson is to _________ as Aimee is to cleaning the bathroom. I mean, I’ll do it if I have to, or if I notice it needs cleaned, but generally, I just don’t. I can think of a billion other things to do with my time. (Plus that was always my “chore” growing up, and I hated it.)

378a6899-2

Bonus shot of Jackson’s weird tattoos. Ugh–don’t know why I didn’t use this one last time. 

To help you figure out the analogy, here’s a clue. It’s so completely ironic. Like so damn ironic. I’m an English teacher after all. I’m actually writing my own book. There, those are enough clues. Can you finish the analogy? I’ll tell you more about it when you do…

Until then, Room 110 got a new addition this week, and boy was he a hit!!! I saw students posing with him, students talking and singing to him, and students taking selfies with him. If only he were real. We could be quite a dynamic teaching duo, I would imagine. But it’s okay, because I’m going to get a lot of leverage out of this for a long, long time. I should have thought of it sooner, but I didn’t. So thanks for the idea, Logan!

img_0258

Funny thing that happened today. Students were overheard complaining about having “writer’s block” with their research paper (a measly five pages)—the one they’ve been working on for more than two weeks. The warmest two weeks of 2017 thus far. Hah! I replied. That’s not writer’s block; there’s no such thing, I told them. What you’ve got, my friends, is senioritis, and you need to get over it soon! Phew. It’s too soon for senioritis, just like it’s too soon for mosquitoes, but I’m afraid they are both here to stay.

In other news, it’s looking like THE BOOK is not only going to my editor soon for some cleanup, pointing out of holes, and ideas, but the publisher wants to put the book’s “package” together within the next month or so—HOW EXCITING! Good thing I know what it’s about by now, right? That way I can steer the cover/title in the right direction …Did you know that, so far, coming up with the book’s title and chapter titles have been the second hardest part of writing the book, next to its organization? Yes, true.

Well, I suppose it’s time to finish this post so that I can go read more of Uncle Tom’s Cabin for a class. It’s such a good book—have you read it? The light it sheds on slavery at the time is nothing less than horrifying, and I can’t believe I haven’t read it until now. If I don’t read, I’ll have to watch “Cops” probably. And lord, we’ve seen every episode twenty times at least…

Don’t forget to try to finish the analogy! The first winning response will win a free copy of my book! (That’s coming out a year from now…sorry.)

Jackson’s New Tattoo

img_0684-2

My handsome husband in the waters of Key West, and one of his eight, soon to be nine, tattoos.

My gorgeous hubby will be the very first to tell you that some of his tattoos were crazy teenage/early 20s mistakes. Like the alien in the human uterus. (One time, our Mexican restaurant waiter switched tables with another waiter after asking Jackson what, in fact, the tattoo was. It must have freaked him out.) Or the Buddha with back-to-back aliens behind it. Or the creepy spider-looking one on the inside of his right wrist.

“That’s not a spider, Aimee,” he just told me. “It’s a tribal face.”

Aaaaah, well, I wondered! (He has an intense arachnophobia.) Still, looks like a spider to me.

Jackson’s favorite tattoos are the ones of his children’s names—each on his upper arms—but he has eight in all.

“Eight is enough,” he just joked. (Remember that TV show from the 70’s? What a dork.)

Jackson’s tattoos have never been an issue for me, turn-off or turn-on. They’re just a part of him. And once upon a time, I even had my own tattoo. Yes, that’s right: had, past tense, meaning I no longer have it. It was a sunflower, about the size of a 50-cent piece, located near my right hipbone. It’s completely gone now, but that’s another story. One that’s included in THE BOOK, I might add—well, kinda.

Anyway, Jackson’s newest tattoo will be #9—he doesn’t have it quite yet—and since he’s turning 40 this summer, he won’t really be able to count it as some young, dumb, spontaneous choice. This tattoo is one he promised me almost five years ago, during the summer of 2012, when we first started dating.

Jackson knew I had just begun my Master’s Degree program in creative writing then, and he also knew that someday, I wanted to write my own book to hopefully be published. As I struggled through writing my thesis, sometimes threatening to give up and quit, frustrated and bummed by how difficult the task ahead of me was, he would remind me of this promise.

And it has now almost come to fruition. I’m so excited!

Jackson promised, pinky swore, and crossed his heart that one day, when I had my own book written and published and in his hands, he would be happy to have my name, in my handwriting, tattooed across his a** cheek—an autograph of sorts.

I’m just going to add one more stipulation, Prince Charming. Since we were married during the past five years, and I legally added your name to mine, I think it should also be included in that tattoo: ‘Aimee Ross.’ Yes, that’s it. Or maybe even ‘Aimee Ross’s.’

Don’t ya think?

P.S. NO one backs out of pinky promises, Jackson.

Writing = Researching, the Fun Part

Ricky Martin. Cinderella. Kintsugi. Writing as Therapy. Fairytales and Trauma Patients. Plastic Surgery and Self-esteem.  Mid-life Crises. Broken Heart Syndrome. What do they all have in common, you may wonder? Where do they all intersect?

Well, that’s easy: with me, of course.

All of the above are different topics that I have researched at length, ad nauseum, for Cinderella, Revised.

And I have learned so much. May I share some interesting tidbits?

  • Did you know that Ricky Martin was the Latin American Spanish language voice for Disney’s Hercules (1997)? Sigh.
  • Or, did you know that according to an English folklorist’s research from 1893, there are 345 known variations of the Cinderella tale? (And that was over 120 years ago!) Holy cow—that means mine will add to that!
  • The Japanese word kintsugi means “golden joinery,” and its reparation of something broken with a gold adhesive is considered artwork.

kintsugi

  • Researching how writing can be a credible form of psychotherapy actually led me to fairy tale therapy. I found it fascinating that trauma patients, particularly children, telling their stories as fairy tales allowed them the distance and safety necessary to process what happened to them. It makes so much sense, though.
  • And how about this? According to 2015 statistics, I have had two of the top five plastic surgeries done on me! The largest age group having work done these days? Forty to 54-year-olds.
  • Women go through mid-life crises much earlier than men, by the way—from the ages of 35-44. I guess it’s too late for me to get my nose pierced then, dangit.
  • Broken Heart Syndrome is a real-thing, people. And guess what? Women. Ninety per cent more likely to have it happen than men. Recent reports have even wondered if Debbie Reynolds’ sudden death was because of her daughter’s (Carrie Fisher) the day or so before.

I could go on and on and on, I suppose, but then maybe no one will read my book. I guess there’s always the puzzle of trying to figure out how they all fit into my story, right?

Why don’t you all choose one—yes, do!—and I’ll include a brief excerpt next post from the book about it…deal?

THE BOOK now has a (tentative) title!

From left to right: See what I did here? Nice parallel, eh? No caption necessary.

Well, the initial proofreading reviews are in, and if they are any measure of what’s to come, then I think most of my readers will be happy with THE BOOK! Yay! Here’s what they said (and by the way, I’ve had both genders take a look):

• “First of all I’ve laughed and cried and that is the best thing a writer can do for me.”

• “I could not put my iPad down even though I knew 3/4 of the story. I thought the flow was perfect.”

• “Like reading my own diary, I feel like I’m in the moment with you. You come across as so knowledgeable, witty, and self-aware even during times of self-doubt, but not cocky like could easily be done in moments of self-suredness. You’re relatable. I love it. Raw. Real. Honest. Emotional. You are a true inspiration and mentor and TEACHER.”

And I’m glad to read these comments, I am, but I have to be honest. Two nights ago, I almost opened my blog, posted, “I’m done, I quit,” and lit the manuscript on fire. If anyone ever says that writing a book is easy, they are lying. LYING. Just like those places that say they can give a set of dental implants in one day—yeah, right. My two took well over a year to get in place. Sorry, I digress.

I have second guessed pieces and parts and order and structure so many many times, that a raging headache told me to walk away the other night, so I did. And then the next day, after some sleep and clearing of the mind, wouldn’t you know, I had a pretty good day working on THE BOOK. Hah. That reminds me—it’s time to title this book, at least until I change my mind again, WHICH I WILL. Ambivalent Aimee. That’s me.

Drumroll, please. THE BOOK’S title is tentatively going to be Cinderella, Revised: My Version, from here on out to be abbreviated as CRMV. Revising Cinderella actually won the most votes, but I’m afraid that sets readers up to think it’s going to be another Cinderella story. And I mean, it is, kinda, but not quite. (Mine has less magic, more crises.) If you’re one who voted for that one and wants to fight for it, let’s hear it!

So I have just cut up the first section into slices of paragraphs and moved them all around the dining room table with KittyCat Cami lying on most of the stacks, and gosh darnit, I do believe in chronological order; I do I do I do. So that’s what I’m going with.

And if I change my mind again, someone kick me.

P.S. Thank you SO MUCH, K, B, and K for all your help thus far.

 

Like Cinderella’s Dress, My Fairy Tale Is Starting to Piece Together !

the-mice-and-the-dress

I appreciate all of you animal-friend helpers out there, making sure that my dress is the best and most beautiful …. (Get the metaphor? Of course you do, I taught you!)

I have to give credit where credit is due this week, and that’s to MY STUDENTS. I love them. (Most of them.) Why, you ask? Well, first of all, if you’re reading this, there’s a really good chance that you’re probably either a current or former student, or the parent of one, or maybe even the teacher of other students, so thank you for being here.

Second of all, my student manager told me my blog has fallen behind, and I love that he’s paying attention, so thanks, Caleb, I’m here.

Third of all, my students have been a great audience this week, previewing sections of THE BOOK because they want to—in fact, they have begged me to read it to them, which is so crazy to me. Me, a writer?! Who people want to hear stories from?! So far, their feedback has been quite a confidence booster, AND reading aloud, of course, which I have encouraged before, REALLLLLLLLY helps to see where the problems in word choice, repetition, rhythm, humor, etc. are.

In addition, after four former students of mine asked to proof THE BOOK, it struck me that my intended audience for this book IS former students, current students, colleagues in education, possibly middle-aged women, but mainly students. THE BOOK is about teaching & my classroom and what it has given to me over the years, particularly after life got pretty rough for me (I actually refer to 2010 as The Trifecta of Shit year).

Now, onto recent writing-THE-BOOK-struggles: The order of this story has been killing me. I had been going to sleep thinking about it, waking up thinking about it, and all the times in between. How could I tell the linear story of the bad stuff happening and still weave in the humor and light heartedness of Ricky Martin, Cinderella, and the classroom? What about dates and did it matter to jump around in time? (I know, I know, same old struggles, Aimee—but this was a real worry, as I kept adding new pieces to it that felt so relevant, yet didn’t *quite* seem to fit!)

So my next idea was to do a little research, and by that I mean, I came to school with a few favorite memoirs pulled off my home shelves, rounded up some more from another English teacher down the hall (Thanks, Renee!), and looked at what those writers did. They definitely jumped around through time, but by using time markers so readers knew that’s what was happening (providing dates when moving away from the chronology), and I decided I might be able to do that, too.

So I tried *one more time* to use notecards with different sections on them, spread them out around me on the floor of my new office, and shuffle and move and think and move some more, and voila, a structure happened. (Great idea, Editor Erin! Thank you!) And then sections fell in place, and then the titles of those sections fell in place, and then the quotes I’d like to use as epigraphs fell in place, and pretty soon, I realized my potential title could work, too!

How would you like to help choose the potential title for my book, everyone?! If you’re still reading along, consider voting for one of the following options, or going to Twitter to do so (https://twitter.com/AimeeLRoss/status/822121481253638148):

Revising Cinderella

Cinderella, Revised

Cinderella, Revised: My Version

Cinderella, Revised: The Disenchanted, Heroine-In-Crisis Version                                              (I couldn’t fit this one on Twitter!)

And thank you!!


Three Keys to Writing THE BOOK

Since we last met, I had another birthday (my 39th again), started a new semester in school, and learned what it means to have “ice” (as opposed to getting “iced,” which is what I thought they meant. My bad. Jackson got me some beautiful diamond earrings for my birthday which I showed off to my students today. Teenagers keep me young.)

img_0017

See mah birthday bling? A diva pen from Jerrica to match my diva earrings from Jackson!

In addition, my students and I all created vision boards for the new year, and of course, mine focuses on THE BOOK. Here, take a look:

img_0020

Anyway, I haven’t much news in the way of writing THE BOOK, except that it’s always good to get some distance. Just when I think I have something figured out, then I realize I really don’t, that writing a book is really hard, and that maybe I need to change my perspective on something. Being flexible is key.

Also, you know what else is key to writing a book? Reading it aloud. I’ve read some short pieces to my students, and when they are engaged, or giggling, or surprised, I know I’m on to something good. But when there is dead silence, or I think I’ve lost them, I know that something isn’t right. Something must be boring. Then voila, time to revise that piece. It really has been quite helpful, and they love knowing they are helping with my book. Today, one student actually asked if I would read more to them!

And another thing key to writing a book: a groovy, quiet-except-for-music, cozy work space. For Christmas, my stepdaughter McKenna gave me a Himalayan salt rock light to plug into my computer while I work, and my creativity level has soared! (I’m totally not kidding.) I also have found that Justin Timberlake, George Michael, and 80’s music are the best artists/music to enjoy while creating. Chardonnay and a cute kitty to pet also seem to amp my abilities. (Take all these hints and use them, people.)

Here’s an excerpt from THE BOOK I’d like to share as a preview, and it goes along with something on my vision board–see if you can figure it out!

“Fairy Tale Interlude #4: In a Fairytale Land
I am one of 39 teacher-winners from across the nation attending a prestigious awards ceremony at Disney Land when I realize I am about to meet Cinderella.
The Cinderella.
Okay, “meet” is an eensy bit of an exaggeration.
We—Cinderella and I—are sharing the red carpet in the happiest place on earth, and I am the happiest I have ever been.
Okay, “ever” is an eensy bit of an exaggeration, too.
But it’s the DisneyHAND national teaching awards, and I am so darn excited! Me! An award-winning teacher after only twelve years! Me! Out of more than ten thousand applications! I had dreamed of this since watching the awards during college, hoping that one day, I could be so loved and lucky as a teacher, and it happened.
A part of my fairy tale was coming true!
Cinderella and I stood side-by-side, arms around each other’s waist, both of us dressed to kill. She rocked vintage, one-of-a-kind ball attire, and I wore a glamorous, beaded black gown.
Cameras flashed, a string quartet played, and Minnie and Goofy frolicked nearby, as we smiled for photographers. My dad snapped our photo just in time to capture the unmistakable, childlike look on my face that said it all: Ohmygod, it’s Cinderella!
I was in awe of her, unable to muster any words.
And then, as if it had turned midnight, she was gone, and I hadn’t gotten to talk to her.”

Discussion question: would it be corny to frame any short pieces as Lesson Plans since I’m a teacher? Too much? Okay, discuss.

P.S. A student showed me an email from his mom who enjoys my blog! Thank you, Mom–you know who you are!

P.P.S. Time to go count down to “The Bachelor”!

a-j-2

Typical Jackson and Aimee moment–quite the fairy tale, eh?