Tag Archives: family

Don’t Go to Jail

My husband is currently on a train to New York to participate in some publicity around his book, which will be released on April 5. Don’t Go to Jail is a tie-in to the TV show Better Call Saul, itself a spinoff of Breaking Bad.

I watched Steve write this book. If you had seen Steve’s start as a professional writer, like I did, you might not necessarily have expected a book like this to be his first. I often thought he would write a true crime book first. He was friends with Ann Rule, who was one of the most famous true crime writers before she passed away. Steve used to write about true crime stories online in various places, some for pay and others not. I have to confess to not being able to follow much of what he wrote because it was too disturbing to me to think about the most horrific parts of human nature. I don’t know how he did it. However, the things he learned writing about true crime did come in handy when he wrote this book.

Steve also became a true fan of the show. He watches it every time it’s on and streamed all the last season as he prepared to write the book. I usually try to watch it with him. It’s a really good show. I don’t watch much TV. I often have it on in the background, but the only shows I make an effort to try to catch are quite few indeed, and most of them have short seasons (Downton Abbey before it ended, Outlander, Doctor Who). I guess I just don’t find much on TV that I like anymore, for whatever reason, and I really do like this show.

I watched him write this book in the space of about a month while he was also doing a permalance (more or less permanent freelance) writing assignment for Maxim online. He has now been writing for Maxim since last September or October. He was writing pretty much nonstop from the time he awoke to the time he slept. It wasn’t easy, but we all understood he needed to get the work done.

Watching Steve build his career as a freelance writer has not always been easy. It’s feast or famine, seems like. However, last year, with this book, it felt like he turned a corner. He has his foot firmly in the door, as they say. It’s not easy to get started as a writer, and I understand why many writers never get to a place where they can make it a full-time job.

I just want to say how proud I am of my husband. He had a dream, and he worked hard to achieve it. There were times I wished myself that he would give up, but I have had so many reasons to be grateful he stuck with it. I will miss him tonight as he is enjoying his time in New York, but I couldn’t be happier for him.

P. S. If you enjoy the TV show Better Call Saul, you might enjoy his book.

Slice of LifeSlice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.

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Slice of Life #17: Thanksgiving

Slice of LifeToday was the last day of work before Thanksgiving break. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. In the last few years since we moved to Massachusetts, I have enjoyed cooking our large Thanksgiving meal. It seems appropriate to talk about what I’m thankful for today.

I’m thankful for my family and friends. I had a wonderful time in Minneapolis at NCTE this week. I missed my husband and children. I don’t travel much (just for work, really). We’re really sort of homebodies, and I know they are happier staying behind (even if they miss me, too). My childhood best friend Darcy lives in Minnesota, and we were able to get together while I was at NCTE. We had dinner together Thursday night.

Darcy and Dana

It was wonderful to see her again. It has been at least 20 years because my oldest was a baby, and she’ll be 22 next month. Darcy and I have been friends for 35 years now. On Saturday night, we took her children to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater. We had an excellent time, and it was a great deal of fun to meet and talk with her children. I’ve heard so much about them over the years. Bright, funny, charming kids! I am exceedingly thankful to have been able to visit with Darcy while I was in Minneapolis.

I was also grateful to spend so much time with my friend Glenda Funk. We think a lot alike, and she pushes me in ways she probably doesn’t realize. She told me I go quiet in crowds, which is true. I’m an introvert, and as much as I can make myself go out and have fun, it’s a bit hard to be talkative at the same time. It’s just not my nature. But she told me that I should speak up more (in her kind way), and so I did, and I felt pretty good about it. I will try not to make it a one-off. I’m also thankful for old friends and new ones made at the conference. It was great to see Lee Ann Spillane, Gary Anderson, Kim McCollum Clark, Jennifer Ansbach, Paul Hankins, and so many others at the conference. There is nothing quite like being around so many of my people. It’s funny; someone at the conference mentioned that we English teachers can identify each other out in public, and it’s true. As I was riding into downtown Minneapolis on the light rail from the airport, I saw another woman sitting in my train car, and I could just tell she was an English teacher. Sure enough, she asked me if I was going to NCTE (I guess I look like an English teacher, too). I suppose after this weekend we shall also know each other by our red and black Scholastic bags.

I’m also thankful for books and the writers who go to this conference. I always walk away with a huge TBR list, as if it’s not huge enough already. Even though I feel like I read a lot (and I’ve just finished my 49th book for the year), I can’t touch some of the people who go to this conference. Book love is in the air at NCTE, and it’s one of the few places where I feel like a reading slacker. I am thankful that I came back from the conference committed to bringing independent reading into my classroom. Even though I believe in it and support it and was thrilled when my department members started doing it, I didn’t do it in my room yet. Yet. I would tell myself “Next year.” Well, this time, I told myself that even though the semester ends in January, we aren’t waiting. My students told me at the beginning of the year that they don’t like reading. I need to work on that. Honestly, if I were in an English class that had independent reading, even if it was only ten minutes at the beginning of the period, it would be my favorite ten minutes of the day. So I met with our librarian, the fantastic Jenn Hanson, who will select books for and talk about books with my students after Thanksgiving break. Exciting!

Today, in between parent/teacher conferences, I organized the books already in my room by fiction, poetry/drama, nonfiction/memoir, and PD/resources. I will be hauling books from home to school to flesh out the selections. I can’t wait to share with my students.

Finally, I’m thankful for folks who read anything I might have to say here and consider it worthwhile. I began this blog as sort of an experiment ten years ago, and though I sometimes feel pressure to write more and don’t know what to write, it has turned me into a reflective educator. I’m not sure I was as reflective before the blog. Thank you for joining me in that journey.

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