Reviews Are Trickling in for THE BOOK, and . . .

. . . oh my goodness, are they good!!! Text messages, Facebook messages/posts, and Goodreads reviews–I just have to share them. They make everything come full circle, you know. There are twelve out of twelve great reviews, and that means I’ve earned a 100% on my book! That is so exciting! Do you know how hard it is to earn a 100% for writing in my class? Just ask my Comp I students!

  1. Hi Aimee, I just finished Permanent Marker…which I just started this morning and could not put it down. By writing your story, it has not only allowed you to heal but gives strength and inspiration for others to face their truths. An amazing story about an amazing person! Congratulations on a brilliant book! Loved it!
  2. Oh Aimee, just finished AND I’m crying. What a wonderful inspirational story you have. I loved reading it. Thanks for sharing your heartache, pain and metamorphosis with the rest of us. I love you and am proud to call you friend.
  3. I laughed (the random Ricky Martin). I cried. I celebrated. I ached. I reminisced (Do not knock on her door when she’s teaching). Well done!
  4. Aimee Ross’ book, Permanent Marker, is a deeply moving and inspirational telling of a resilient and remarkable woman–a woman who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. Within only six months, Aimee underwent a divorce, heart attack, and a car accident where she barely escaped with her life. But even through these heart-breaking experiences, this impressive teacher, Ricky Martin “fangirl,” and aspiring princess refused to break. Permanent Marker teaches us what it means to experience tragedy and rise up from our ashes as stronger people who find hope and the courage to inspire others.
  5. This book is one that you will not be able to put down. From start to finish, you will be glued to the words on the page. The imagery used in this book is phenomenal. You can picture everything that had happened in this real life story. I could relate so much to many parts of this life story. This is a great book and one I highly recommend reading!! (PS- I am not a reader and I had this one done in a day!!)
  6. AIMEE! I read this book in two days! Wow! I couldn’t put it down! It reaches so many emotions! I know you and I learned so much about your life! I cried, I laughed, I prayed, I was inspired! You expressed everything in such detail! I stand in awe of all you overcame and the fact that you let us all experience and be inspired by life! This book is going to touch people, inspire people, move people, and make people stronger! Thanks for just sharing a small part of your life with all of us and making me step back again and see how blessed I am and if you can overcome and come out on top after all the pain, sorrow, heartbreak and tragedy you experienced, I CAN OVERCOME ANYTHING! Please keep writing, you truly have a gift and God had you here to share it with all of us!
  7. This book is about an amazing brave person who took tragedy by the horns and helped her heal to the life she deserved. Permanent Marker is a reminder to those who are having a difficult time that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  8. 60 pages into your breathtaking book. I’m crazy impressed by how you balanced the three storylines (so far), and how they play into each other. It’s an admittedly painful read. It’s graphic and creates a sense physical discomfort at several points, which is to say I don’t know how you got through any of it, but yet here you are, and telling the story nonetheless. I’m going back to reading it now, thank you for putting this out into the world.
  9. Wow! This memoir by Aimee Ross kept me spellbound from the very beginning. It is a beautifully written story of a very difficult time in her life, and how she worked through it to become the person she is today. By flipping back and forth between time periods, Aimee draws you into her life. Her wonderfully written word pictures paint a story of love, brokenness, family, perseverance, and healing. As a librarian, I am excited for my students to read this memoir. They will not only learn life lessons about struggles and hope, but they will also be reminded that it’s okay to be imperfect. That we are all broken at times and put back together. That there is life after tragedy. Aimee is an amazing teacher in the classroom.  Now her teaching will be expanded to everyone who reads her book.  This is one you are going to want to read over and over again.  Thank you, Aimee, for sharing your story with us.
  10. The candidly revealing memoir, Permanent Marker, is a heartfelt and honest expression of the author’s battle in overcoming painful circumstances and obstacles beyond her control. Within the same year, she survives three traumatic and life-shattering experiences, leaving her deeply scarred; inside and out, emotionally and physically. Deciding not to stumble through self-pity, instead, she chronicles, with humor and humility, her survivor’s tale, all the while remaining consistently hopeful and ever optimistic. Written in a straightforward and jarring manner, each turning point in the novel is stripped down and told as a series of stark flashbacks that intertwine seamlessly, including a… a poignant letter to the person who, in a split second, irrevocably changed both their lives. The result is a narrative both affecting and uplifting, simply told by a novelist open to sharing the startling and remarkable account of her life. A refreshingly honest, beautiful book.
  11. Wow. I literally just read this book in one sitting. Aimee’s story was so sad, heartfelt, and touching, but also uplifting and inspirational. It starts off with her car accident and flashbacks to her (very shortly) prior divorce and heart attack are interspersed throughout, making the reading even more compelling. Loved this book, my only complaint is that I wish it had a little more detail about certain things.
  12. I found this memoir by award-winning high school English teacher Aimee Ross to be very moving and I’m so glad she shared it with the rest of us. It comes across as a heartfelt, empowering and a cathartic read that sprinkles bits of her growth across its pages as she opened up about the horrible “Trifecta of Shit” as she refers to it that happened to her in a 6-month period of her life. At the age of forty-one and unhappy in her marriage, she asked her husband for a divorce. Just three days later, she suffers a heart attack. Slowly recovering from that and starting over in her own place, five months later, she survives a near-fatal car crash caused by an intoxicated driver. This book is about her recovery and in a way IS her recovery as she explores the connection between writing and healing…physically, emotionally..and learning to forgive. A very moving book that touches on many topics, some unexpected. Very honest and emotion filled.

I’m so happy that everyone likes the book so far!! And Jackson has been strongly encouraged to make his tattoo appointment, which I will record and share extensively when it happens.

And just because I love the photo, here it is–the one described in Permanent Marker: A Memoir–the one of me meeting my inner child’s idol, Cinderella.

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My Very Own Directorial Debut

I’m so very excited to share this video that I created all by myself! I made this video as a finalist for the National Teachers Hall of Fame Induction Committee, and I had so much fun doing so! (And by the way, I did every single bit of it on my iPhone–isn’t that crazy?)

Thanks to all my students who not only believe in me, but who make my job the very best each and every day: you rock.

The Sign, an excerpt

I left our delightful, two-story house in the country at the typical time—a half hour before school—on a chilly, gray, weekday morning typical of early April in Ohio. It wasn’t dark, but the sun wasn’t shining, either. Rain showers, typical of spring, had been forecasted for the afternoon.

But today wasn’t quite so typical.

I backed out of the garage and turned down the driveway, noticing the faintest specks of water, pinpoint-tiny droplets on my windshield, but only three or four. Not even enough to turn on the wipers. Not even enough to say it was raining. And certainly not enough to deflate the giddiness of my about-to-burst, happy heart.

Jackson wanted to marry me!

I reached the end of the drive, where I always waited to pull out. The slight hills hiding the oncoming traffic of the busy state route presented quite a challenge. In fact, if you were going to go, you had to commit.

Ah, the irony. Was I ready to commit myself to someone again? And did I believe in marriage enough to try?

I checked my hair in the rearview mirror then glanced across the road to the field straight ahead of me, an open area before a tree line. I could not believe my eyes.

A single vertical rainbow stood straight up and down all by itself in that field.

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I looked quickly to my left and right again to see if there were other witnesses, but no one else was around—no cars drove by, no neighbors stood in their yards, no joggers passed on their morning run. A rainbow for my eyes only.

A sign from the Universe I couldn’t deny. Approval. A blessing. A symbol of hope and a promise of the future.

On a morning with little rain and hardly any sunshine, the two ingredients normally needed to create such a phenomenon of light.

Very strange, this out-of-nowhere rainbow.

But not a coincidence. I understood this. I felt it in my heart and body and soul—all that had once been broken.

Its message was shining through.

*Note to reader: if you’re still reading, if you like to review books, and you have some free time, please e-mail me at aimeeross14@gmail.com!

 

The Scary Roommate, an excerpt

I heard her arrive, moaning so loudly I wanted earplugs. It seemed as if all hell had broken loose in my previously quiet, sterile environment.

Nurses pulled the curtain around my bed for rest and privacy, but that thin, flimsy, plaid, room-divider was a joke.

I lay in my bed at the back of the room, trying to mind my own business, but I overheard most everything through that pseudo curtain of privacy.

When the nurse asked her what had happened, the patient’s words came out swollen and muddled. Something was wrong with her mouth or jaw. I tuned into her language as if she had a foreign accent and found out her face had been cut so severely by the breaking glass of the car’s windows that it was affecting her speech. She cried, moaning between words, begging for pain medication the nurse said she couldn’t have yet.

She claimed her boyfriend had tried to kill her: they were riding in a car she was driving when he became furious with her, told her he should just kill her, and then yanked the steering wheel. The car rolled several times, and neither of them were wearing their seatbelts.

I felt my own jaw drop in horror. The nurse’s silence said that she was as incredulous as I. I continued to listen intently, while the nurse asked the appropriate questions.

The woman’s boyfriend, uninjured in the wreck, left her and the car at the scene of the accident. He walked away from her, leaving her lying in the mud by the car’s tire.

Her story startled me and shook my sense of safety.

The injured woman’s parents and toddler son came back into the room, and I heard them request that the boyfriend not be allowed to visit. The hospital, however, could only keep all visitors from coming in or none, because it was too hard to stop just one person.

I was unnerved, stunned that the possibility existed for him to come into “our” room, after trying to kill her.

The injured woman assured her parents that he wouldn’t show up anyway, and soon, they said their goodbyes and left.

We were all alone.

“Hey! You over there! Call the nurse in here!” she bellowed.

I froze.

We were each assigned our own nurse; there wasn’t one assigned to the room. I had been here long enough to know that much.

“There’s a big button to push on the side of your bed,” I answered meekly.

“I realize that,” she snarled. “It won’t work!”

I called my nurse. I could tell she wasn’t happy about needing to fetch my roommate’s nurse, but she did it. I was embarrassed and apologetic. After almost two weeks here, I knew how hard the trauma floor nurses worked taking care of so many patients.

My roommate moaned and wailed waiting for her nurse to arrive, after which she begged and cried for more pain meds. She must have gotten them, because she quieted some.

Her nurse left and we were alone again.

Then, her bedside phone rang. I heard her muffled, low “Hello?” Then the sounds of her crying. It was him. It was her boyfriend.

“You tried to kill me!” she screamed through swollen lips.

It got quiet as she listened to what he had to say.

Then she said she loved him, and that she wanted him here.

Wait—what? Was she crazy?

I was stuck in a bed, unable to walk, barely able to move, and fresh off my own trauma. And she was inviting someone who wanted her dead here to “our” room. What if he came to see her, they got into a fight, and I was the witness who needed silenced?

My newly healed heart fluttered in fear. I wanted out of that room.

I texted my mother—I didn’t call because I didn’t want my roommate to hear. Mom had been my advocate thus far, a constantly present force in the hospital every day. I was sure that once I explained the situation, she would take care of it.

I waited for her response text, which seemed to take forever. I knew she had gone out to eat with my uncle, but I also knew she would keep her phone nearby just for me. Her text back was nonchalant, not worried, an “Oh wow” response. I wished I could call her, but I didn’t dare take the chance.

Wait a minute. I was the only person who knew how I felt. My safety and peace of mind were being threatened after living through the most horrific trauma of my life. I was a grown woman who had also survived a heart attack. And I was entitled to be assured I would not die in a hospital room by the hands of some stranger’s maniacal boyfriend.

I had to take control, because this time I could. This time I could get away from another young man’s poor decision-making. I needed to talk to my nurse.

When she appeared, I motioned her closer there behind the curtain. She understood, moved to my side, and leaned down.

“I don’t want anyone to hear,” I whispered then explained my fears.

“I don’t blame you,” she whispered back. “I’ll see what I can do.”

She pulled the curtain back to take my vitals, long enough for me to see my roommate being wheeled out of the room for X-rays: she was young, her hair a ratted mess, and her face looked as if Dr. Frankenstein himself had sewn it back together.

Within minutes, the nursing supervisor came in to let me know they were moving me to another room. I had asserted myself when it mattered, spoken up for myself without someone else’s help, and it had worked.

Phew.

~from Permanent Marker: A Memoir, by Aimee Ross, out March 13, 2018. You can pre-order your own copy here.

 

An Open Letter to Paige, a Former Student Who Believed in Me

Dear Paige,

As 2017 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to write this letter, thanking you for believing in me…even though it took me eleven years to make good on your faith.

I know you remember to what I’m referring, because that’s the type of English student you were: responsible, attentive, and conscientious. Thank you for being so. But since this is an open letter, and others won’t know, let me provide some background.

Back in 2006, as we were preparing for Christmas Break, you presented me with a gift. You had seen it while out shopping and thought of me, you said. I don’t remember if you had wrapped it or put it in a gift bag, but it doesn’t matter now. It was a book, something all English teachers love to get, gift or not! But this one was special, titled How to Write What You Want & Sell What You Write, a Barnes and Noble book by Skip Press. I think I might have even teared up—do you remember? 2880652

Anyway, inside the book, a Christmas card dated 12/19/06 read, “Here’s just something to help you get started! Whatever you decide to write will be great & I can’t wait to have my own copy!” you wrote. How glad I am that I’ve hung on to it until now.

Back then, I had no idea what I would decide to write, either, I just knew that one day, I wanted to be the author of my very own book—even though I didn’t write (unless blogging) on a regular basis. (What was I thinking!)

Life took its twists and turns, and a few years later, thinking I wanted to teach at the college level, I decided to get my master’s degree. When I found out that Ashland University offered an MFA—in what else?! Writing!—I was stoked. I had always wanted my master’s in a concentrated area, not education, and writing seemed like the ideal fit for me. I also had a story I had to get out of me, even if just for my own sake: that of my car accident a year before.

Who would have known that for the next five years I would work to craft that story, turning it into a memoir from which I hoped others could take inspiration? That memoir goes to the publisher within the month to become a book, Paige: a tangible, real-life, page-turning paperback that I am so very proud of. One which you believed in—ELEVEN years ago. (And wait until you see the cover! I could only dream of one so fitting. Okay…I’ll just include it here!)

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Thank you, Paige, for believing in me before I even knew if I could do it. You were the first in a long line of students who gave me the confidence I needed over the last several years to write the book, and for that, I have endless appreciation. I can’t wait to return your 2006 Christmas gift with one of my very own.

With love,

Aimee Ross

The English Teacher’s Books

Five books I’ll never part with:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. A teenage girl on a quest and an old man who once wrote a book. And the Holocaust is involved, too. I read it so fast that I truly digested it whole.

Half a Life by Darin Strauss. Half his life ago, he killed a girl. He’s spent the time since—while maturing and growing into a college student, husband, and ultimately father—dealing with the resulting guilt and shaping it into something he can live with. This is my mentor book.

Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life by Abigail Thomas. A memoir of bits and pieces, back and forth through time, one beautiful scene after the next that adds up to a masterpiece of one woman’s life. And somehow, I think we can all relate.

 Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. I gave this book to my mom for Mother’s Day 2016 since she raised me on Little Golden Books. Three weeks later, she lost her fight against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and passed away. Dad told me I should keep the book.

The Light Between Us: Stories from Heaven by Laura Lynne Jackson. A memoir about an English teacher who is also a psychic medium. She presents her life experiences and scientific research to help readers understand what she believes. And now I do, too.

Book I’ve faked reading:

Watership Down by Richard Adams and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe: I co-teach a history/reading elective course, and the other teacher chose these books for our class. I tried…I really did…but blech. Also, almost anything written by Joseph Conrad (College summer class: studies in a major author. I had no idea it would be Conrad when I signed up. I passed the class with a ‘C,’ I think, by never missing a class while taking page upon page of notes as everyone else discussed.).

Book(s) I’m an evangelist for:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Yes, I know it’s horrifying and post-apocalyptic. And yes, I agree, it’s devastatingly sad—yet poetic. But it might be my favorite book of all time (and one of the only books to ever make me cry). I love this book so much, I must teach it, and for so many, many reasons. I dare anyone with a son or a father to read this and try not to get the feels.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The average teen today will tell you he doesn’t “get” this book, but then in discussion come to the conclusion that Holden Caulfield is, in fact, an average teen (of his time). Holden’s story gets a bad rap, because it’s a great one—and ultimately, I think we can all identify with him.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. When I first read this book in college, I knew that I had to teach it: amidst the ambiguity of a governess who might or might not be crazy, two children who may or may not be definitively evil, and ghosts of servants who may or may not be real, a delightfully haunting Victorian tale emerges. Unfortunately, I just can’t get students to agree.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. My senior English students were supposed to have this fairy tale/myth/legend/fable about Santiago, the shepherd boy, in search of his Personal Legend finished by yesterday. But most of them still aren’t done with it. I don’t get it, I really don’t. If I were six months from graduating and adulting was staring me in the face, I’d be cramming other people’s wisdom and advice as fast as I could. Or maybe I wouldn’t, now that I think about it. This book didn’t mean anything to me until I read it five years ago for the first time–because I wondered if I had found my Personal Legend. Sigh. The nature of youth and aging, right? Read this book if you haven’t, then get a hold of me.

KiCam’s Q & A with Yours Truly, Who’s Almost an Author!

What prompted you to write your memoir and share your very personal experiences with readers?

I had to understand what happened to me: Who had I been, and who did I become? I knew I was different. I knew something life-changing had happened to me, and I needed to understand how it had affected me so deeply. Sharing the experiences is education at its basic level—teaching and learning from each other. It’s so ingrained in me that I don’t know how not to share.

How did reliving your most painful experiences—a divorce, a heart attack, a near-fatal car crash—affect you? Did it feel therapeutic, or was it harder than you anticipated?

I’ve been working on this for more than six years, to tell the truth. When I first started writing, it was only about the accident. Before I knew it, the story of my divorce and heart attack was bubbling out of me without control. Within months, I realized that even though I’d chosen to get divorced, the heart attack and accident just happened to me; my first reaction was that karma was paying me back. Guilt made me wonder if I’d deserved all of what happened, and ultimately, that’s when I started asking the bigger questions of myself through writing that most definitely—as the book explains—became my therapy. I cried a lot and processed a lot. And thank goodness, because it worked. (But I’ve always believed in writing as a cathartic, insightful experience, says this veteran English teacher.)

Which writers and works inspired you to put your own story on paper? Who has influenced your writing style?

Darin Strauss’s Half a Life and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love both inspired me. Strauss experienced a traumatic accident as well, and as a result, he dealt with his guilt through writing his memoir—I took strength from that. Early in Gilbert’s book, she briefly writes about the end of her marriage, and it has always stuck with me.

My younger sister is a humor writer, and she’s been influencing and guiding my writing for years, no matter whether I was working on an essay, a lesson plan, a presentation, or an application. I’m also a huge fan of Abigail Thomas’s writing style, which I studied during my MFA. She writes almost conversationally, and she experiments with voice and chronology (or lack of) brilliantly. Both Jill Christman’s (Darkroom) and Cheryl Strayed’s (Wild) writing also have influenced my style and not just their books—both women are prolific essay writers with unique, straightforward creative voices.

What makes a great memoir? What advice would you give to other aspiring authors who might be struggling to get started with a memoir?

A great memoir, no matter the writer’s experience, makes you feel as if you have been through it with her. Not only does the writer have a voice that’s relatable and realistic, her story has universal qualities that help you identify with it while making you feel something.

After hearing the same advice over and over again, from editors, writers, and publishers alike, I decided, “Hey, maybe, they all know something I don’t (duh, Aimee),” so here it is: Figure out the story you want to tell and why it needs to be told. Then get it all out in writing. Every bit of it. After you do that, then you look for patterns and similarities and gaps, or ways you could experiment or change the structure.

What has been the most fulfilling part of the writing and publishing process for you?

For me, it has been the challenge of the writing itself: telling my story the best way I can and finding just the right words to say what I want. That gives me a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. When I can read something I’ve written over and over again in a quest for perfection and feel proud, that’s fulfilling, too.

What’s the primary takeaway you hope readers get from Permanent Marker?

Ultimately, I think we’re all asking the same questions of ourselves—Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? How do I get through this struggle?—and memoir is the perfect genre to find possible answers in others’ experiences to help us answer our own.

/in  /by 

Aimee Ross was living a perfectly normal life raising three kids, married to her high school sweetheart, and teaching at her high school alma mater. Life was perfect—right until it wasn’t.

Unhappy in her marriage, Aimee asked for a divorce. Three days later, she suffered a heart attack at age forty-one. Five months after that, she survived a near-fatal car crash caused by an intoxicated driver.

Her physical recovery took months and left her body marked by scars. The emotional recovery, though, would take longer, as Aimee sought to forgive the man who almost killed her—and to forgive herself for tearing apart her family.

Permanent Marker takes readers on a journey of healing, proving that from darkness can come new light, new love, and a renewed purpose for life.