It’s Been A Long Time…

Mary RM editedIt’s been a very long time since my last post. I have no reason other than the usual one for many: a very full life outside of my writing life – along with some unexpected bumps in the road and a close family member’s ongoing recovery from a very difficult circumstance.

However, I am back, and I will strive to be more present here.

I have a backlog of recipes/cooking to offer up.

The Crimson Lady

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

I also have several interesting and quirky experiences to share, and some book talk too. I’m mulling ideas (and have begun a prequel novella to my medieval romance The Crimson Lady; The original novel follows Fiona Byrne in the years after she’d fled London and the notorious existence she’d had there. She’d been sold as a young woman into a life of sin, purchased by a powerful nobleman who is as depraved as he is handsome, and turned into England’s most desired courtesan: Giselle de Coeur, “The Crimson Lady”. The prequel is called “Becoming the Crimson Lady” and details just how she was transformed from a street urchin to the sought-after courtesan…and what led to her ultimate escape).

I have a few other ideas rolling around that are not tied to works I’ve already written, but we’ll see what transpires.

MooseTracks_CoverIn the meantime, my latest, “Fried Green Tomatoes of the Adirondacks style”, very loosely and semi-autobiographical novel Moose Tracks on the Road To Heaven is still available for only $3.99 in digital and $13.99 in trade-sized print.

I’m not reading too much lately, outside of material for work (endless papers, exams etc), but a title I’m reading a bit at a time, because it fascinates me, is Change the Story of Your Health: Using Shamanic and Jungian Techniques for Healing by Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD. Has anyone else read this book or something similar?

Lastly, the school year is finally wrapping up for 2017. This will mean more free time to write (and visit here!) but less than when I was building this site, due to some of those life circumstances I mentioned in the first paragraph. It will still be a change of schedule, and I am looking forward to embracing all that the summer has to offer, in my personal life, in the great beauty of nature, and in a bit of travel, writing, relaxation, and family time.

How about you? What are your plans for the next few months? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Thanks for visiting!

That Bittersweet Time of Year

imageIt’s a strange juxtaposition of feelings, when you’re a teacher. This is my empty classroom (all the desks have been moved downstairs to the gym for testing purposes).

It’s a strange and empty feeling, with all the students gone and the work undertaken each day composed of proctoring tests, grading, assessing completed exams, pulling together final reams of paperwork in the form of “proofs” of the work I do all year as a teacher so that I can receive my “score” (that will designate me as “effective”, “highly effective”, “developing” or really in trouble), and ordering supplies and books for next year, taking everything off the walls, straightening up files, etc etc.

I prefer the have the liveliness of teenagers (spanning ages of 14 – 18, depending on the grade I’m teaching that period) in my classroom. But at the same time, this signals a shift to the different, less harried work of summer. It’s just as demanding, only at a different pace (and with no pay, of course, LOL).

Any real writing I may get to do will take place in the next two months.

But much of that time will be spent trying to “catch up” on all the household things let go all year, carting my own teen here and there and babysitting my new granddaughter, not to mention slowly – always – getting ready for the coming new academic year in the fall, and the six new classes of students I will face each day.

So it is bittersweet to me.

I used to think I’d get used to it over time – but this year marks the completion of my 27th year of teaching, and it’s never changed. I still feel that little flutter of emptiness and that lump of memory of all the lively, engaging, sometimes upsetting but always useful moments that have happened in this space since the first day of September.

And I miss my students.

Hot Tea and a Good Book

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Snow coming down outside my classroom window

It’s a snowy winter morning here, and I’m at work rather than home, but I have a lovely blending of the two worlds today in that my teaching job will also allow me to do some reading…because the students have one of their very important “Free Reading Fridays”.

Such activity is based in scientific and educational evidence…the practice of sustained silent reading, of material students choose, increases student skill and promotes the possibility not only of creating life-long readers, but also life-long learners. Here’s a .pdf document about the practice, if anyone is interested in learning more about the pedagogy behind it.

I’ve been teaching for 26 years. In that time, I’ve seen stress, anxiety, and demands for students go up (in part thanks to high stakes testing) and the ability to focus not only on content but also on the joys of learning (and reading!) go down. This is one way of providing students with a bit of time away from academic demands that carries with it some good educational benefits simultaneously. And part of the process is that they see their teacher reading along with them – so I benefit as well (and heaven knows I have precious little “free reading” time of my own in my life outside of school). 🙂 Many students have thanked me over the years for these opportunities, as they find books they never knew about (I maintain two large book shelves of free-reading novels, non-fiction, and poetry for multiple reading levels in my classroom), a love of reading they didn’t know they had, and/or a little break from the constant pressure to perform in the classroom eight periods a day.

So it’s the best of both worlds for a few class periods today.

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Advanced proof of A PLEDGE OF BETTER TIMES by Margaret Porter

My tea this morning is Twinning’s “Winter Spice”, and my book is an advanced reader copy of an historical novel by friend and fellow author Margaret Porter – her upcoming title A Pledge of Better Times (the link is to the Goodreads page for the author and book). It’s set at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, and follows the political and emotional worlds of Lady Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans. It’s fascinating and enjoyable reading. The novel will be publishing in April, and I’m sure I’ll post another reminder then.

Happy Friday, everyone!

The Juggling Act

superwoman4This is how many of us feel on a regular basis (or maybe it’s just me, but I’m going to phrase it like that because it makes me feel better to pull you all into my circus, LOL).

173093__new-year-new-year-holiday-girl-smile-mood-gifts-juggling_pThrow in some of this (because the holiday preparations are in full swing, with decorating, shopping, baking, cooking, and most important of all, spending time with each other, which is the foundation of good memories):

????????And this (because my five weeks grades are due Tuesday)…

 

Final Front Moose Tracks on the Road to HeavenAnd this (because final issues for the book always crop up and require attention, from setting up accounts to creating TOC lists, to creating cover letters and mailing out review copies and trying to build some promotional efforts)…

And I have brewing a perfect storm of craziness that quickly escalates stress to red-line levels. Like on a daily basis. Tempers can flare and cause reactions that definitely don’t add to the serenity of life. 🙂

perfect-mumsAs a mom (even though my girls are teens they still have a gazillion activities, sports, and social issues to navigate), it’s easy to start to feel like this:

What to do?

live-in-the-momentI don’t have any silver bullet, I’m afraid. All I can offer is an idea that occasionally helps me to slow down so I can process what’s happening. It helps me to deflate some of the intensity of stress when it begins to overwhelm: Just live in the moment.

Attitude affects everything, whether its the day-to-day grind or the challenges of facing illness and pain (when my father was undergoing chemo and treatment during his final illness, he reiterated that to me many times, and one of the moments he was most proud was when his doctor’s office staff pooled to together and gave him a little pin that said “Great attitude award”, because he had one of the best they’d ever worked with).

While we can manage some things (like schedules or what we add to them by saying “yes” to too many things), there is much we can’t control. Much that just has to get done and needs that have to be met.

They will be. It will all work out. Just consider what this poster says. It helps. It really does. 🙂

11568-Be-Free-Live-In-The-Moment

 

Anyone else have tips for getting through stressful times?

 

Broken Toe

imagesU1WEGSYJ

I broke the big toe on my left foot yesterday.

It was really stupid…I was moving a deck umbrella into the garage, and neglected to check that the base was hooked tightly to the pole.

The base is a 25 lb. square of molded cement. It slipped off and landed smack dab in the middle of my big toe.

I’m afraid I didn’t follow what the poster above suggests. There was no keeping calm, and my language…well let’s just say that wasn’t calm either. I generally don’t cry in moments of great pain. But I release my emotions verbally, which I’m not too proud of, and I’m working on that, LOL.

I had a snow day yesterday, and I was supposed to be decorating my house for an upcoming neighborhood holiday party on Saturday where I am hosting 23 people for the main dish part of the festivities. Needless to say, not much got done, not to mention the seven loads of laundry still waiting, the 10 inch stack of papers to grade, the final issues that keep popping up with Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven and the need to drive my younger daughter to go buy dress pants and a certain kind of shirt for her school concert this week…the list goes on and on.

It’s amazing how much we take our toes for granted. I’m only glad it was my left toe and not my right one, or I wouldn’t be able to drive back and forth to work!

Artist Interview: M. Reed McCall

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by fellow blogger L.N. Holmes. She asked some great questions that really made me think. We covered a lot of ground, from industry thoughts to how an award-winning medieval romance writer shifts over to mainstream contemporary fiction…and why the two genres are not all that different after all, to me. 🙂

A Vase of Wildflowers

M. Reed McCall, author, Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, book, novel, ficiton, Mary Reed McCall, new book Copyright M. Reed McCall


(Please note that I am adding the addition of colored text. My questions will be in red and the artist’s answers will be in purple.)


L.N. Holmes: “Where is your hometown?”
M. Reed McCall: “I am originally from Rome, NY, which is about an hour east of Syracuse.”
L.N. Holmes: “What is your chosen artistic profession?”
M. Reed McCall: “I am a writer–although I am also a high school English teacher, which requires its own kind of artistry, and I have been working with students (numbered in the thousands by now) for the past 26 years.”

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