Memorial Day Holiday

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I can't remember the last time I've had Memorial Day off. Lately, it's been during the last week of school, so the powers-that-be figured, well, why? But last year I ended the day with 8 students on Memorial Day--they were either absent or checked out early. So the PTB decided to give it to us this year, which means the teachers have to finish up the year on Saturday (the third time in my 21 years that we've done that.)

No big plans, even though the dh has two days off in a row, which never happens. A little shopping, a little napping, a little writing. Yesterday I finished my writing goals for the weekend by one o'clock, but still felt guilty for not working last night.

Today, it's back to Queen.

What are your Memorial Day plans?


Goals for the LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL!!!!

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The other day I realized that I was listening to the second Sookie Stackhouse book when I was getting my room ready, and that doesn’t seem that long ago At ALL. And yet….this is the year that won’t end.

Cindi told me that she had her students (5th graders) write about their elementary experience and all the kids I had wrote lovely things about me. That made me feel really good. This class…yeah, that won’t happen.

So, lots to do this week.

1) Revisions on STTA

2) Get room ready.

3) Finish paperwork

4) Grocery store (must remember to get good packing tape.)

5) House?

6) Exercise?

Enough. I’m not cooking this week. The dh will cook tonight and tomorrow, but the rest is take-out. Too bad I have to go to the grocery store anyway.



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Today is Trish's birthday. Usually I give her a hottie-filled post, but I was inspired by something on Jaunty Quills the other day, and thought I'd tell you why she's so awesome.

1) She's always there. Okay, almost always. She travels sometimes. But I can always count on an email from her during the day.

2) She is uber talented. Just wait until you get your hands on Winter Longing. You'll be sobbbbbbing!

3) She is super committed. No matter what she's decided to do, being a board member, writing, editing, she WILL DO IT.

4) She's fast on her feet. Several times this last month I've emailed her to ask her for ideas and BOOM! She has them!

5) She celebrates success in fun ways. Wait until you see the frame she got me for my Carina Press novel book cover!

6) She commiserates on disappointments, too.

7) She makes me try to be braver. I still can't believe she travels all over the place by herself.

8) She's inspirational. Okay, I haven't exercised and dieted as much as she has, but she has inspired other people with her healthy writer blog.

9) She has great taste. Not only is she my friend, but she likes a lot of the same shows I do :)

I'm going to stop because I know I'll forget something. But I love Trish like a sister and hope this decade is her best yet!!!

First Lines

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Stealing this idea from Marianne...

First lines from 10 things I've written, published and not:

1) “Kit!”
Katherine Barclay straightened from stirring the laundry in the iron pot. She swept loose tendrils of hair back from her face and schooled her features into patience before she turned to her sixteen-year-old sister-in-law. SUNRISE OVER TEXAS, coming from Carina Press in September

2) By the time Mallory Reeves reached the campsite, the sun had set behind the mountains, giving the

crescent of sand below her a red glow. The color matched her mood.

BENEATH THE SURFACE, from Samhain Publishing

3) So this was Gabe Cooper.
HOT SHOT, from Samhain Publishing

4) “Join the army, see the world,” Master Sergeant Alex Shepard mocked under his breath.
Breaking Daylight, from Samhain Publishing

5) “Aaron!”

The dark-haired imp broke from the herd of kindergartners and bolted. Bull by the Horns, from The Wild Rose Press

6) Lauren Stokes raced down the stairs as fast as she

could without tripping over her own feet. Where There's Smoke from The Wild Rose Press

7) Dr. Liv Olney didn’t want to open her eyes,

though she’d not heard that sound before. She feared

what she’d encounter in the dark stone room. Don't Look Back, coming in September from The Wild Rose Press

8) McKenna Spencer lifted her gaze from the computer monitor when she heard a sound bouncing off the cement walls of the basement of the Texas capitol. Guarded Hearts, out on submission

9) “Cam, I need you to come get me.” Willow Hawkins pressed a hand to one ear and her cell phone to the other. Road Signs, in revision

10) Maddy Saunders studied the brochure as she waited for the ferry to McDavid Island, off the South Carolina coast. The cheap tri-fold on bad paper with bright colors fit a water park better than a haunted tour.

Ghost of a Doubt, waiting for the other people in the anthology to finish


Things I'm Loving Right Now

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1) The Hunger Games--I'm listening to it on audio and can't listen fast enough!

2) Simply Caramel from Milky Way. I limit myself, but--yum!

3) Playing kickball with my class every afternoon.

4) GLEE and Friday Night Lights.

5) Being done with grading.

What about you?


Goals for a DEFINITELY Busier Week

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1) Finish art fact sheet and get to Carina.

2) Mail my contract.

3) Finish and revise short story, due next Tuesday

4) Write synopsis and query for short story

5) Promote promote promote

6) SPN blog

7) Crazy activities at school—teacher vs. 5th grade kickball game, talent show, field day, chill out day (we can bring our electronics). The trick will be keeping them occupied on the other days!

8) Keep up house

9) Exercise

10) Color hair (wish I had the courage to go gray!)

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I Need Your Help!

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My mom and I have this tradition. Every year I compose a countdown list to the end of school. Every day I email her the list. I started with 15 Days Left, 15 Things to Look Forward To. I include different places to go to breakfast, to go shopping, as well as simple pleasures, like eating breakfast on the back patio and taking naps.

Here's the thing. I'm running out of things! I need about 15 more ideas! I think I've included every restaurant that serves breakfast, every craft store, staying up late...I'm out of ideas! Help! What do you look forward to in the summer?


The Ugly Truth

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Yesterday I came home, turned The Ugly Truth on Netflix, and went to
sleep on the couch. (I like having a familiar movie on when I sleep on
the couch.) When I woke up, the scene where she finds out he's left
was on.

Jennifer Crusie's right. It's a terrible movie. She's a shrill heroine, and
he's an arrogant SOB. So I wondered what might have made it a better
movie, and I thought, "She's the wrong heroine for him."

In the beginning, he's telling women who call in to his show that they're
dogs if they haven't found the right person, and when he meets the
heroine, he says she's not a dog at all.

Maybe she should have been. Maybe she should have been a confident
woman who wasn't slender and blonde and beautiful. Maybe she should
have been a little heavy, a little less-than-gorgeous. Maybe she should
have challenged his own perceptions ofbeauty and love more than she did.
Because essentially he got what he wanted withoutchanging his perceptions,
much like Danny at the end of Grease, when Sandy changeswho she is for him.

What do you think? Did you see the movie? Did you like it? Do you think
my idea is better? (HINT: The answer is yes.)

11 more days of school. So much to do!


You Make It Look Easy

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I've made all my sales since I've been working at this school, starting in October 2007, when I signed two contracts. I've sold 6 full-length manuscript and 4 novellas. One of the teachers said I made it look easy.


Trish said she was making a master submission list of all her projects, which made me curious about my own. My list isn't complete, because it starts in 2002, but I submitted Hot Shot 35 times to publishers and agents before finally contracting it with Samhain.

Surface--11 places.

STTA--14 and still looking.

Easy. I guess it seems that way from the outside, though only Sunrise Over Texas and the novellas have been written since 2007. The others were wrangled and revised and shelved and revised....

I'm exhausted just thinking about it. But am I giving up? Nope. Don't have that in me.


I Haz a Sad

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a baby daddy--with two different women. He has a 4 year old child with one actress and a baby with another (27 year old actress from One Tree Hill.) I don't know why it bothers me, except that it does. It just seems irresponsible and I don't like knowing it. I guess the last I heard about his social life, he was back with Mary Louise, and that doesn't seem that long ago. It was at least a year, I guess, if he has this baby with Hilarie.

It's not like knowing David Boreanaz cheated on his wife (which Trish told me) but I'm...disillusioned. Maybe if she wasn't so much younger. JDM is one day younger than me. It would be the same as me dating Jared :-/

I submitted STTA to TWRP and realized the book is just a hair too short to go to print, so I worked on expanding that yesterday, and I have three more scenes to work on in Sunrise Over Texas. I'd like to be done by Wednesday.


Goals for the Week of, Nothing, Really

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This is the week before the week before the last week of school. IOW, the last regular week. Next week we’ll have field day and the talent show (though I really wish they’d save all that for the VERY last week. What are we going to do those last four days, I ask you? 14 more days.

1) Finish revisions and send back

2) Newsletter

3) Update website

4) Get back to work on Queen

5) House/exercise

See, nothing, really. I can do this.


How To Train Your Dragon

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First, I was ready to pull the trigger on buying the airline tickets for our trip to CA for my grandmother's 90th birthday, and the tickets have gone up $40 each! From Thursday morning to Thursday night! ARGH!

Second, we took the kids to see How To Train Your Dragon yesterday. We got to the theater early--they'd planned to show it just to us. The kids bought their snacks (OMG, did this theater make money!) We didn't get the discount we did last year, and it was in 3D so we didn't have the money preorder the snacks, which we need to do if we do this again, even if we just ask the kids for the money. So we get the 3D glasses and the movie starts in this big theater's blurry. I moved, thinking it was me. I cleaned my glasses and my 3D glasses. Finally another parent turned to me and asked if I could see it. Everyone just assumed it was them. Another parent and I went to tell the management. They moved us to a TINY theater--not even enough room for all the kids and the parents with us. They had to bring in chairs! Also, the kids swear they saw rats!! But once the movie started, the worries fell away.

What a wonderful movie! I just loved it. It was visually gorgeous. I thought it was very unique despite having a familiar theme (the same theme as GLEE this week, in fact), and I started clapping as soon as it was over. The grandmother sitting with me turned to me and said, "THAT was a movie."

Have you seen it? Did you like it?

Also, don't you think Hiccup looks like Jared?



The Days Are Dragging

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The days always drag now, when I'm not desperate to cram 5 courses in a day, and still make it to computer lab. We're at centers a good chunk of the morning, which is more time efficient, but makes for a long morning. Not to mention Problem Child is in a mood this week. Remember the paperwork I filled out to get him on medication? I won't see any results before the year is out, I'm sure.

Today is a field trip and I'm not taking him, so his grandfather said he'd keep him home. Fine. I'm taking off tomorrow. Four days without that stress, then only 14 more.

Our dryer broke Tuesday morning. The dh got a part for it yesterday, only $40, a bargain, considering we've had the dryer over 11 years. So before we went out to dinner last night, I got a load of towels rewashed and in the dryer. Clean towels--whee! I'm washing another load now, and drying the dark clothes I put in last night before bed.

Dinner last night--my dad sent me a gift card for a restaurant called Biga on the Banks. We were told it was a dress-up place. The dh couldn't wear jeans and had to wear a jacket. I wore one of my floaty skirts. We had reservations, and had a table by the window overlooking the San Antonio River, on the quiet end. EVERYTHING was good, from the iced tea to the way-too-big steak (I'm not adventurous. The dh had bouillabaisse.) to the fruit crumble for dessert. It was the fanciest restaurant I've ever been to, and would definitely return, once I'm comfortable dropping that much money for dinner. The server was Australian and when I told her my dad got me the gift card for my birthday, she had the kitchen write "Happy birthday" on the plate with the dessert, and they put a candle on it for me to blow out. Wasn't that sweet?

Okay, I've been up an hour now. Need to hit the revisions. I'm on the second half of the book, but that's where most of the changes will be.

Oh, and tonight's the season finale of SUPERNATURAL!!!!!!! Can't WAIT!!!


Diet Foods

I'm not on a diet, exactly, but the boy is, so I've been trying out new diet snacks so not to tempt him with the usual cookies and brownies I make. I've discovered that diet foods aren't so bad right now. I've been taking the Oroweat sandwich thins for lunch, as well as the Pringles and 100-calorie Nabisco sweets. I will say I'm hungry by 4 PM, though.

So when I come home, I have one of these treats. The mousse is sooooooo good, but then, so are the Skinny Cow sandwiches. I've only had one of the truffles.

The other day I celebrated with one of these:

Mmm. I still have my Big Mac and fries, and Chick-Fil-A breakfast biscuits, but I figure I'm cutting corners. What diet foods do you like?


Top Ten Reasons You Should Be Watching Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights is FINALLY back on NBC (though the DVDs are coming out later this month) and I'm falling in love with it all over. Why? Let me tell you.

10) The Taylors' marriage, a true partnership with real problems, but real respect. Love!

9) “Clear eyes, full hearts can’t lose.”

8) Landry—a teenaged actor playing a teenager, a geek who tried out for the football team to get the girl. Best friend to reason #1.

7) Real Texas. Filmed near Austin, uses a lot of product placement from our local grocery chain.

6) Real issues—teenaged alcoholism, parents in Iraq, racism, money issues, both personal and schools

5) Buddy Garrity—the leader of the booster club, usually great comic relief but with his own problems.

4) The music. The first episode I ever saw ended with Coach Taylor walking out on the field to the song “Devil Town.” I bought it on iTunes that night, and then the CD.

3) Tim Riggins—the bad boy raised by his older brother after his parents abandoned them both. He’s gorgeous and sleeps with anything that moves. But your heart breaks for him, too.


2) Tyra Collette, the bad girl who wants more from her life than what her mother and sister have. She’s played by the gorgeous Adrienne Palicki, who does

1) Matt Saracen, the boy who has to balance his time working, playing football (and becoming starting quarterback as a sophomore after the star quarterback is injured in season 1 and taking care of his grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. He sacrifices so much. You just want to take over for him, and relieve him of some of his pressures.

Then there's Jason Street, star quarterback who finds himself wheelchair-bound, Coach Taylor's relationship with his players, past and present, and just terrific writing.

So what did I miss, if you watch? If you don’t, why not?


Goals for the Week of Mother's Day

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! I hope it’s a wonderful day, and not like the one Frankie had on The Middle!

This week is busier.

1) celebrate Mother’s Day

2) field trip

3) send out progress reports (almost done with grading…)

4) revisions on Sunrise

5) blog at SPN Sisters

6) Continue working on promo. I have back-to-back releases—July, August and September!

7) maybe work on Queen (I think I have two more scenes to go)

8) exercise

9) clean house (fallen way behind here)

Definitely taking off Friday.


The Appeal of Glee

I love Glee. I heard a lot about it last year, when Fox showed the pilot, so when it reaired in the fall, I recorded it and fell in love. It's like a drug, seriously. It makes me ridiculously happy. I love the music, especially, and the dances. I love Mr. Schuster and the romance with Emma. I. Love. Sue Sylvester.

My cousin Greg posted to my Facebook page that he doesn't get it, that it must be a teacher thing. I think maybe, because a number of teachers at my school watch and love it. But I know a lot of writers that like it, too. I don't know a lot of guys who like it. The dh and ds were in the room while I was watching it and were snarking like mad, but my friend Susan's husband watches with her. I think it might have more appeal to people who were on the fringe in high school, too.

So what IS the appeal of Glee? Why does it make me so happy? It hits a chord with a lot of people (haha) but I can't put my finger on it.



After a long time and lots of concern I'd lost it, I got The Call today from Angela James! Sunrise Over Texas, my very first historical, is going to be out in August from Carina Press. You cannot know how happy this makes me. I've been watching Carina on Facebook and Twitter and longing to be part of them, and now...YES!

The call: About 15 minutes before lunch, my phone rang. The kids were in centers and I was doing grades. I saw the area code and stood up even as I answered. I knew. When she said, "This is Angela James," I squealed. (Okay, I have admired her for a LONG time. I think she's damned smart and talented. I won't tell her she's the reason I started sewing again because that just sounds stalker-ish.) She laughed and said, "So, how do you know I'm not calling to wish you a happy Mother's Day?" While that would also be very cool....but then she said she wanted to acquire Sunrise Over Texas.

By now the kids realized something was going on and they were getting noisy and coming to my desk. Later they told me they thought it was Johnny Depp on the phone. Don't ask. I had to excuse myself and shush them, but really, I don't remember much. She said my editor loves historicals, and another person on the acquisition team read and loved it, and that the revisions would be minor. (I got the revision letter by the time I got home and it's not toooooo bad.) She said something else about knowing before RT and she apologized for not getting back to me. I'd sent an inquiry earlier this week and she mentioned that, yes, no news was good news. She went over the contract terms and congratulated me and wished me a happy Mother's Day. I still haven't stopped grinning.

After I hung up I went into the hall and saw the reading specialist and ran to tell her. She gave me a big hug. Then another 4th grade teacher was coming down the hall and I told her. Susan, our youngest team member, wondered what the commotion was so I told her. Only then did I call the dh!!! At lunch I called Trish. I'm like, "This is Mary." It took her a minute (it WAS the middle of the day.) Then I said, "Why would I call you in the middle of the day?" She said, "You sold something!" Much squealing ensued and then we realized we'll both have books out in August. Very DIFFERENT books, but still.

Then I called my baby brother (straight to voicemail) and then my step-dad, since he took me on the big research trip last spring break. I posted to Facebook, told my bosses and the other people at lunch. The kids got a REALLLLY long recess today. Too bad it was so hot!

So, revisions at the top of the list for now! After a dinner out to celebrate, I believe!

Days Off

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We get 10 days to take off during the year, and usually, I use most of them. In fact, when I was at the school-from-hell, I went into my emergency days, which cost me $50 a day and required a doctor's note. Considering I'd used most of my days in October, it was worth it to me.

I debated taking off today. I could have had a retired teacher as my sub and she doesn't even like teachers to leave lesson plans. That would have been cool. But I weighed my need for the day against other activities going on and decided to wait to take it until next week, the Friday after our field trip.

I thought I might take off release days, but this year both were too close to going back to school, one after summer break and one after Christmas. I take off when I'm too behind in writing or have revisions, I take off when I know I need distance from the kids. I used to take off when I wouldn't sleep the night before, but I couldn't sleep during the day, either, so I stopped that. I've already got 2 days planned for next year, right around Labor Day when we're (hopefully) going to CA.

Some teachers don't take them--they get paid for the 5 personal and carry the 5 sick over to the next year. I've been known to carry 2 over, and I've never been paid for the personal days. One of the teachers in my grade level has over 45 days banked! Not me. They're my days and I take them.

What about you? Do you take your sick/personal leave?


Rooting for Success

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And it ain't over. I thought about taking a mental health day tomorrow, but it's still Teacher Appreciation Week and the admins are doing fun stuff, so next Friday might be a better choice. I have to survive a field trip first, though. I called 2 parents yesterday and one of the students got so mad he called me a "h-o-e," (my girls spelled it out for me.) Yes, it's Problem Child. Thing was, he was GOOD last week. He behaved 4 days in a row. BUT his grandfather (who has custody) promised to buy him a new game if he got a sticker on Friday, and he got a sticker on Friday, and no game. Um, THANKS, Grandpa. I filled out the paperwork for the kid to get on medication over 2 weeks ago. Hey, I'd drive Grandma to the doctor MYSELF to turn it in.

We've been having Spurs Spirit Day at school (any excuse to wear jeans this time of year) but I don't think it's helping. They've dropped two in a row.

We got 2 magazines this week, EW and Rolling Stone, with Robert Downey Jr on the cover. Now, I've long appreciated RDJ. The dh, when he was younger and thinner, resembled RDJ so much that when I showed my son a picture of RDJ when he was 5, he thought it was his dad. I loved RDJ on Ally McBeal and I'm really happy that he's clean and having success now. I guess I feel invested in his success because of the perceived connection between him and the dh, but he's one person I'm really happy for.

Another person I love to see succeed is Jennifer Aniston. I don't know much about this woman, but I just loved her on Friends and she seems like a genuinely nice person. I'm not particularly Team Aniston in the conflict between her and Angelina, because I think Angelina is cool, but I really want happiness for Jennifer.

There's an author I know who was a Golden Heart finalist with me in 2007. I remember sitting in the awards ceremony with my fingers crossed that she would win, because I had a feeling it would mean more to her than to me. She didn't, but has gone on to great success, writing her second series now. I don't know why I connected with this writer more than others. I didn't really know her outside of loops and blogs at the time. I'm still her cheerleader, though I'm behind on her series.

Do you ever have connections like that, with people you don't really know?


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I'm not feeling particularly motivated to write these days. I know I should, so I've been trying
to figure out what's wrong.

In Queen, I don't know what choice my heroine will ultimately make, and what effect either
choice will have on her relationship with the hero. I think this is the first book I've ever
written where they could end the book apart.

In the short story, I'm having motivation problems.

In the romantic suspense, my heroine is flat. Flat, flat, flat.

I'm working mostly on Queen, but am frustrated all around. What do you do when nothing
is going as planned?



M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
Breaking DaylightBreaking Daylight
ratings: 11 (avg rating 3.33)

Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.00)

Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
reviews: 2
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.00)

Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.00)

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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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