Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Lucky me! I got to go camping again!

My church had a wonderful family camp out this past weekend and the fall setting looked much like the photo above. Brown and golden leaves are just beginning to drift off the trees and settle into a crunchy mass on the earthen floor. Every breeze brings a shower of more color swirling to the ground. It is a lovely time of year and a welcome setting for our church family to revisit each other.

Back in our traditional church setting we seldom have time to do more than meet-and-greet and quickly rush off to teach Sunday school, perform in the puppet skits, or sing with the praise team. We feel it when we are missing that deep inner connection that binds us together. That is when we know it is time for a change of scenery. So we headed for a local park in the area.

Thrusting us into a new setting creates new layers of friendships. Because of the setting we were forced to slow down, relax, rely on each other and share. We shared our band aids, our fishing poles, firewood, air pumps, and our food.

One member brought barbecued brisket, sausage, chicken and ribs for a tasty lunch for all of us. What a generous, unexpected treat. After inviting him, to then, share our dinner I panicked when I discovered I had left the veggies at home. Not to worry my best friend offered to pool her meal of fish and veggies with ours and together we fed 4 families. It reminds me of another meager fish meal that fed so many. . .

I learned about the romantic back stories, hilarious honeymoons, and current concerns of these fascinating people I have been worshipping with for years. Spirited games of volleyball brought on more laughter than points. Wandering toddlers always had at least 3 sets of eyes upon them. And although none of the fishermen and women brought home any catfish they brought home a closer understanding of each other. Fishing poles were even laid on the ground in favor of more in-depth conversations by the shoreline.

Something good was going on here. Growth!

It was with great reluctance each of us packed our camping gear and made the transition back to reality. But we went away from this setting better than when we came.

For the first time, I began to realize the power of setting upon us, upon our characters. Donald Maass in his "Breakout" book describes a good setting as having an "impact on the characters". The setting should have some kind of psychological effect upon them. Setting is also listed as one of the key elements to spice up a plot in Bell's, "Plot and Structure."

Questions: Is your setting having any impact on your characters? Does it cause them to act in unexpected ways? Are you using setting to enrich your plot? Let me know.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I love camping! Anyone that knows me, knows it is my favorite hobby.

No RVs in this family, only lots of tents, sleeping bags, lanterns and hiking boots.

I often ask for camping gear for birthdays and for Christmas. One Mother's Day I specifically asked for only one item. . . tent stakes. I got them too!

For us Texans, the camping season is pretty limited. Most of the year it is just too hot and that is why all of us trek up to Colorado in the summer, especially if we have camping on the brain.

Sleeping under the stars is a tradition that I grew up with. My parents invested in a Starcraft pop-up camper when my sisters and I were young and every summer vacation found us in our favorite Rocky mountain campsites. I have such wonderful memories of cold rainy nights and competitive card games with my cousins. Luckily I found a terrific guy who also shared my outdoorsy love of the wild. Can you believe that our exotic honeymoon destination was a tent in an Oklahoma campground? Shocking, huh?

Hooray!!! It is finally cool enough around here to go camping again and we headed for the pine forests of Tyler last weekend. One night, while all my guys went fishing, I stayed behind to relish the smoky fire and do some reading. Campfires have a way of stopping time and bringing out our reflective sides. Why do I love camping so much? My fireside contemplation revealed 3 key reasons:

1. It nourishes my soul. I feel closer to God and seem to feel his presence more in a natural setting. My husband feels it too and says it is worshipping God in his natural cathedral. Several campsites have Sunday morning services as well.

2. It strengthens family bonds. This is family time and we are making memories that will last a lifetime. We have time to walk, talk and catch up with each other.

3. It is a welcome break from reality. We leave computers, televisions, agendas, and "to-do" lists behind. If I were home I would not be sitting still absorbing the beauty of God's world and appreciating His gift of the changing seasons. I would be busy, too busy for God to visit with me.

As I sat quietly enjoying the last few orange coals of the fire, it struck me that these are some of the same reasons our readers will pick up our books. Hopefully they will come away with a restored soul, ideas and techniques to strengthen relationships and have a refreshing break from reality in the process.

What do you think of camping? Do you have a hobby or getaway destination that restores you?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Act II - The Case for Humor

Yes, it looks like they are all here.

I have assembled all the necessary ingredients to make a delectable dish I have in mind. Let me double check the recipe once more:
  • Characters - yes they are ready to swirl around in the mix
  • Setting - yes, I have an especially chilly one I will be using
  • Plot - yes, this will be necessary to plump up my dish
  • Conflict - yes, I have a dose or two to spice things up
  • Romance - of course I will need a sweetener
Oops! What does this say in small print?

  • Humor (optional)
What should I do now? Add it or do without?

Perhaps some research will help me decide.

Browsing, browsing. . . nothing in "Plot and Structure" by a Chef Bell. Ok, keep going.

Skimming, skimming. . . Chef Maas "Breakout" masterpiece might offer some advice. . . no luck.

Thumbing, thumbing. . . "Writing the Christian Romance" should have some answers, but alas, Chef Martin offers no chapters on the topic.

Hmmmmm. . . I have heard some good things about this ingredient. Several internet sources tout the many healthy benefits of including humor in the mix:

"Laughter has a powerful effect on your health and well-being. A good laugh relieves tension and stress, elevates mood, enhances creativity and problem-solving ability, and provides a quick energy boost. But even more importantly, laughter brings people together. Mutual laughter and play are an essential component of strong, healthy relationships. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships."*

Benefits of Laughter and Humor

Physical Health Benefits:
Boosts immunity
Lowers stress hormones
Decreases pain
Relaxes your muscles
Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits:
Adds joy and zest to life
Eases anxiety and fear
Relieves stress
Improves mood
Enhances resilience

Social Benefits:
Strengthens relationships
Attracts others to us
Enhances teamwork
Helps defuse conflict
Promotes group bonding **

Wow! If humor can bring on all these reactions, I don't think it is optional any more. It is a necessity. I would love it if everyone that will be sampling my dish would come away with all of these powerful benefits. But how much should I add? and where? and how?

Here's where I need your help. I am just starting to feel my way around this brand new kitchen of novel writing. If you all could just make a quick trip to the store, your store of knowledge that is, and bring home some advice I would appreciate it.

Questions: Are you incorporating humor in your WIP? If so, how are you doing it? Do you have any books in mind that would address this topic.? How much inclusion of humor before your MS crosses over to romantic comedy genre?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Act 1- Delivery

Slowly the lights were dimmed.

The gold curtains were pulled taut, much like the nerves of the actors waiting on the other side.

The music began slowly as whispering voices quieted all around. Shhhhhhh. . .

The thumping, thunder of drumbeats crescendos through the auditorium as the eager audience began to smile. Recognition spread quickly. "Hey! We know this song."

And then it happened. The first giggles escaped and dissolved into the darkened room. Actors ears strained to hear the sound as they exchanged silent smiles. Suddenly, energy on both sides of the curtain rocketed to the rafters.

Success! The tone had been set!

The curtain was jerkily pulled apart and after a a quick scan of the stage, the magic was heard again. Not so hesitantly now, laughter pealed across the room in succession as each one read the quirky sign," Fantasy Iron Chef 2009 - Julia Child vs. Paula Deen". What????

A bit of explanation in order? The annual variety show at my sister's church had always been a great fundraiser and worthy cause. My sister and her best friend jokingly teased about taking part for once. "We can't sing, dance or play an instrument, but we can cook" they surmised. But how do you bring that into a variety show? That's when my husband and I were asked to compile a script for the two reluctant actors.

My husband is the funny one, while I reside on the more serious side of life. But after 30 years together his comedic side is beginning to rub off on me. Together we combine the best of our respective worlds and write some pretty funny stuff. This time we chose a parody of the very popular Iron Chef television show. Since poor Julia Child is deceased, thus the title "Fantasy Iron Chef 2009". The script, only 4 pages, was a hit. But while we supplied mere words, the novice actors and their supportive church family supplied the energy.

To me there is no bigger "high", than hearing an audience laugh at something you have written for that purpose! To hear them cackle when they are supposed to, is sheer joy. When an audience catches the jokes that you have created for them, it is like Christmas morning!

It is like giving birth to a much anticipated child. Our scripts, short stories and novels are our children in progress. When their arrival date looms, we worry, fret, and anticipate. Will this child be appreciated and accepted? Will this child be loved by others? My questions today:

Have you ever written a script or skit? Have you ever given your WIP "baby" to another just to watch their reaction and judge their acceptance? Have you waited in anticipation as a reader or critique partner read your words out loud? Was it a helpful, joyful or disappointing experience?

Coming Friday: Act II- The Case for Humor

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My 5 Words!

Many thanks to Katie G., this week for giving me 5 random words to use in this post. This was perfect timing as this week has had me running in all directions and left my brain in the "empty" position. So here it goes!

Halloween: I love the holiday and always have. As we were growing up, my mom always made the holiday exciting and fun for my sisters and me. Much angst went into the costume decisions and crazy makeup. I especially loved this huge orange skeleton candle my mom has purchased. Every year it was the centerpiece of our decorations on the bar, until the Texas summer heat took its' toll in storage. The poor skeleton looked as if it had been socked in the jaw. I loved carrying on the traditions with my own kids. I was actually shocked at the accusation, about 10 years ago, that those who celebrated Halloween were actually worshipping the devil. What???? At least in my family, nothing was farther from the truth. I figured, and still do, that God knows my heart and the hearts of my children when it comes to our big intent on this holiday. . . . . candy!!!

Lady bugs: My younger sister is a very creative person and decorated my niece's room in ladybug pattern. It was adorable. Colorful, happy bugs resided on the walls and on the bedspread. Why is it that lady bugs are one of the few bugs that don't repulse us. What other bug would we willingly decorate our children's rooms in? Crickets? Grasshoppers? UGH! The second thing that comes to mind on this topic is gardening. We have a small vegetable garden in our backyard, about 10 x 25 feet. I love to be out there and spy a lady bug. It makes me smile, because I know how beneficial they are in gardens.

Vanilla: I am a candle person and vanilla is one of my all time favorite scents. You can't go wrong with it and most people like it. I am also a big fan of Bath and Body works scents, especially the Vanilla Noir. When it comes to ice cream I will take vanilla every time. I even prefer white cake over chocolate cake. I guess you could say I am a plain "ole vanilla" gal.

Scars: I have a lot of little scars that show on my arms and legs. A very active, outdoorsy childhood has left its' mark on me. This one on my wrist was from a 2 inch long splinter that found me as I chased my sister around a telephone pole. But the good news is that I caught her.
The long one on my knee is from the time I scaled the 5 foot fence to escape the two dogs chasing my down the alley. The bad news is that I had provoked them. The square one on my shin is from a bicycle wreck I had two years ago. My son and I were racing down the street and our tires collided and so did we. The good news, I am the only one with a scar from that incident. These are just a few of the scars that show, like everyone else, we all carry the scars that don't show.

Rainbows: Rainbows have taken a bad rap lately with their tie in to the gay community. But when I get to see a real rainbow arched across the sky, it is breathtaking. We don't ever get tired of seeing these miracles in the sky. Driving along the road, you can see dozens of cars pulled off to the side. Is it a wreck up ahead? No, but everyone is out of there car. Oh yes, they are all looking at a gorgeous rainbow that has just appeared. It has to be savored, no quick glance out the window will suffice. And thanks to my Christian upbringing, never once have I looked up at that beautiful colorful bridge and forgotten God's promise in Genesis. What a lovely reminder of His love.

This finishes my five words and I hope you get to know me better. I'd love to see your comments or ideas. If you want, I would love to send five words to you . It makes an easy post idea, so just let me know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Encouraging Words

"Wow! This is too cool!"
That was my excited proclamation after stumbling upon this blogging network of believers.
"Not only are they believers," I excitedly told my husband, "but they are writers in all stages of publication. These people are just like me."
Although I say "stumbled" upon it, I know without a doubt I was led here. What a great, tremendous, joyous journey it has been in only one month.

I am totally in awe of the wonderful supportive nature of the new "blogging family." It seems as if there is a true see-saw effect out there. On any one day if a fellow, sister-writer is having doubts or discouragement, several others are there to offer advice and comfort. One day later that sister is offering her support to another. I have been the recipient of those kind, encouraging words and it has made a difference. A few weeks ago, my post dealt with the issue of purpose in our romance writing, but several of your comments helped me look at it in such a different light. As I was making this turn-around in attitude, God spoke to me more about the issue in our Sunday sermon.

Our new preacher is none other than Sherrinda's ( A Writer Wannabe) wonderful husband, John K. The verse was from Hebrew 3:12-13:

See to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

As a body of believers we are called to encourage each other. As John K. stated it, we have a role to play in softening our hearts and others' hearts before Satan and sin get a good grip and take control.

So this week, that is how I see our writing. We are to continue in our writing what we are doing in our blogging network. Since there is so much power in God's Word, He gives us power in our words. Words we can use to uplift, advise, counsel, and encourage. Words we can use to change lives.

When our words get in alignment with His, we can do more good than we can ever imagine. My wish for you this week is that through your words may God's awesome power be released!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Grills and Pools

The rain was over and my husband was itching to get outdoors and grill something. . . . anything. It is a feeling that comes over him every so often and the sooner the better as far as I am concerned. He is an excellent "grill master" and I am an appreciative beneficiary.

The sun was beaming, the charcoals were heating, the steaks were marinating and life was good. We heard the neighbors, two doors down come out into their backyard and proceed to their swimming pool. Our fences are tall enough for visual privacy but not so much on noise control.Teenagers were playfully giggling and challenging each other to splash contests. Squeals from younger children as they were unexpectedly pushed into the pool brought a smile to our faces. My husband looked over at me and said, " They are having such a blast. Gosh, wouldn't it be great to have a pool like that? " I agreed and we began to discuss all the pros and cons of a pool as he slipped the steaks on the grill. Off to the side, the roasted corn, still sheathed in its' shuck, began to absorb the wonderful smokey flavor wafting over from the steak.

Within minutes, the splashing from the pool quieted down and we could hear voices. Although muffled at first, one voice rose clearly above the rest, "Oh man, that smells soooooo good. I am so hungry I wish we were grilling something right now!" Several voices chimed in an a lot of "Mmmmm"s could be heard. My husband and I looked at each other and stifled a laugh, not wanting them to know we had overheard their conversation. How funny that each of us was wanting what the other had.

The incident reminds me of the lyrics to an old Cheryl Crow song,"Soak up the Sun". She advises that one of the keys to true happiness:

"It's not having what you want. It's wanting what you've got."

How about you?Any minor jealousies or envious thoughts getting in the way of your perfect, sunny afternoon? Or are you taking inventory of what you have already been blessed with?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Purposeful Struggle

I am struggling with the idea of purpose this week.

Not the inevitable "does my life have a purpose?" idea.

But instead I am debating "does my contemporary, Christian romance novel serve a purpose?"

As long as I can remember I have worn the teacher hat: playing school with my sisters, Red Cross swimming lessons, VBS and Sunday School classes, theater classes, aerobic and fitness classes, and now college communication classes.

I love teaching because I know and feel it makes a difference. With God as my guide in this teaching journey, we have hopefully changed lives for the better. I thrive on the knowledge that the teaching gifts I have been given have inspired others to better their lives or careers. A truly rewarding experience I would do for free and often have.

Without a doubt, this same God is leading me in a new direction now, and is urging me to wear a different hat: writer. But I struggle with the importance or value to others when we write Christian romance novels. Will I be making a difference with my writing? In this genre, do our plot lines and characters benefit readers and actually change their lives? Or is the life that will be undergoing change. . . . only mine? Perhaps I am over thinking it all.

When discussing this struggle of purpose with my husband, he smiled and drolly said, "Well, even Christians need some enjoyment in their lives." I think he has the right idea. Perhaps I need to relax the teacher in me. When I read contemporary Christian fiction it is for enjoyment. I like seeing characters dealing with some of the same issues our family has, but tend to read for the story that is presented.

I would love to have your input on this "struggle" of making an impact versus enjoyment. Have any of you been inspired or changed by reading novels in this genre?

From the writing perspective, have you writers of Christian fiction felt like you have made a difference to your readers or received feedback as such?

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's About Fair Time!

It is here!
A year of waiting is over!
Can you feel the excitement in the air?
The anticipation of a new thrills and sensory delights?
The State Fair of Texas begins today.

The State Fair is a much anticipated event for my family. For us it ranks as one of the unofficial holidays of the season. It is a tradition that reaches back to my childhood days and has now spread to countless nieces, nephews, cousins, boyfriends and girlfriends.

If any of you live within a 50 mile-radius and have never gone, what are you waiting for? For all those writers in blog land, let me assure you that you will come away with a wealth of material you can drawn upon for those future and current WIPs. A day at the fair will totally envelop all 5 of your senses in wonderfully, remarkable ways. Allow me to elaborate:

HEARING: It isn't long before we hear the rhythmic cadences of the fair "barkers". They are calling out to fair goers to come and buy the "best turkey-leg in Texas". Others smash their lips against the microphone and fuzzily beg you to "toss your pennies in the dish! Everyone is a winner". Each ride on the Midway has it's own throbbing, pulsing musical beat, often overlapping with it's neighbor. Each song pulls at the masses to hesitate and take a longer look. The rushing whirr of the rollercoaster rides and the joyful screams of the riders are just persuasive enough, and we stand in line.

TOUCH: The new cars are perhaps the biggest draw for our fingers. We glide our hands along the smooth shiny surfaces and move into the interior. Which do we prefer? Not sure. let me touch the coolness of the leather seats and then take in the softer finish of the cloth seats. No need to stop there. Let's go shopping at the Bazaar. Jewelry and earrings gravitate to our fingers and we have to touch the textured purses, scarves and clothes. I turn the corner to find my husband exploring the feel of the recliners and pull my son off of the display mattresses. Too much to touch.

SIGHT: The first sign of fall can be seen in the gorgeous yellow chrysanthemums that greet visitors at every entrance and all over the park. On the midway, the final rays of the sun have barely set before the brilliant white, red, and yellow pulsing lights of the rides beckon to their excited riders. For the quieter nightlife group, the magnificent light show on the plaza features synchronized fountains dancing in reds and blues as the strobe lights sweep the night sky. All sit in awe of the spectacle, and every adult momentarily experiences that child-like appreciation for something so unique, so different and so unexpectedly "cool".

SMELL: No place but the State Fair contains this strange combination of scents. Almost immediately our noses are intrigued by the delectable aroma of baking bread in the food building. Hooray! Free samples are ready and no matter the length of the line, everyone is patient. A few steps outside and the stench of animal waste rapidly overwhelms us as we approach the petting zoo. No need to linger there as the unmistakable lure of fried food is compelling us to find it's source.

TASTE: We found it! The Fletcher Corny Dog is the most famous dog in Texas. It is the reason we abandon our diets one day out of the year ( OK twice if you count Thanksgiving). One mouthful of the warm corn-dog smothered in your choice of mustard or ketchup, and you will swear off of the frozen wannabes. Nothing compares. . . well, almost nothing, except the sinful cinnamon rolls in the food court. After all, every corn dog deserves a worthy dessert and I have found it. These Texas sized rolls are handed out hot and in a dish complete with a fork. These heavenly concoctions are literally swimming in a vanilla frosting bath that is just like Grandma used to make. Fried butter is the newest temptation this year, but not sure my arteries will forgive me for that one. As the end of the night draws near we raid the cotton candy stand for the pink clouds that have become our children's yearly souvenir, enjoyed slowly, days after the fair has ended.

The long walk back to our car is always a great time to sum up our favorite memories of the day.

And now I am asking if any of you have attended the State Fair of Texas. If so what are some of your favorite memories , or not so favorite memories? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mother and Daughter InTransition

Last month my daughter lived here and now she doesn't.
First came love, then came marriage and then came the happily ever after. But for me, somewhere along the way came the empty bedroom across the hall and the new relationship we are transitioning into.

My daughter, Natalie got married 6 weeks ago to the Christian man of her dreams, David. He makes her so happy and has such a kind heart, we couldn't be happier for the both of them. All during her college years and dating, Natalie chose to live at home and we knew that it would be quite a change around here when she moved after they got married. I know the Bible says that "the woman is to leave her home" and to "become one with her husband." and we urged her to adhere to this principle. I thought I was prepared for her moving out, but she is my first born and it has not been easy.

My sister and a close friend at church are also joining me on this journey of loosening the apron strings. Both have daughters going away to college and missing them as well. All of us have been surprised at the strange times and strange things that seem to trigger our tears: the empty cars parked in the driveway, the empty bedroom, and for me it was the lack of my exercise partner and the empty spot at the dinner table. For 23 years my daughter has sat to dinner at my table, and it will take some time to undo that. I miss not getting to touch her, stroking her hair and even her smell. Carrying on our relationship, primarily by phone, just isn't enough. However, unlike my sister and friend, their situations are temporary. Their daughters will be living sporadically back in the fold of the family again, especially holidays and summers. My situation has more permanence to it. This chapter is closed with my daughter and at least for the first three weeks it was an emotion akin to mourning.

(I know it sounds like she moved away to some foreign country, instead of 30 minutes away , but writers, not to mention mothers are very emotional people and feel so deeply. I am convinced that all of us writer/moms need to take stock in the Kleenex corporation.)

The good news is that 6 weeks later, no tears are falling and life is getting into a new routine, with a lot of our old routines mixed in. My biggest realization is that whenever she comes to visit, about 1-2 times a week, it is . . . different. While Natalie is still my daughter, she now comes to my house as a guest. Like our other friends and family, she and her husband call before they come, bring food to help out with meals, and help out with the clean up. My husband and I have found ourselves unconsciously playing the part of host and hostess. When we know they are coming I start cleaning up the living room, gathering all the newspapers and magazines. He starts working in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher and cleaning cabinet tops. (Yes, I know I am lucky to have a guy who know how to load a dishwasher!)

It seems that when they are coming it is an "event" now and, of course, events must have homemade meals and desserts. My husband and I even discuss what will be on the evening's agenda for entertainment: board games? cards? DVDs? television??? Instead of heading for bed at first yawn, as I would do when they were dating, I feel that either my husband or myself need to stay up and see them to their car and wave from the front porch; just as all thoughtful hosts do. Why are we doing this? Natalie and David have seen this living room cluttered with newspapers. They know what the kitchen looks like in stressful weeks of school. Natalie was living in it all only a few weeks ago. What is changed?

I believe that marriage has somewhat leveled the playing field of adulthood. Without a word between us, our actions are signaling we accept them as adults. Our relationship with them is becoming more of a friendship quality and less parental. But that doesn't mean we always have to act like adults. We still tease, chase and play "bootie tag", a game of who gets the last slap on the rump. Natalie seeks out longer hugs and cuddles than she used to, as if she knows how valuable they really are and how long they have to sustain her until she comes back. I even hear her gently scold her new husband, "David, you are not supposed to be going through my parents' pantry now." I jump in and assure him he could still raid the pantry if he were hungry, just as he did when they were dating. "But mom," Natalie interjects, "you don't do that when you go to your mother's house." She is right. I realize I am patterning things from my own relationship with my mother. When I visit my mother , she always treats me as a revered guest and sends me on my way totally full of food, attention and love.

So what I think is a new transition in our relationship has actually been played out years before and I have subconsciously copied it. And why not. . . . it works. I am now looking forward to getting to know my daughter and son-in-law as certified adults. As usual, my mom was right as she advised me to stop looking back and start looking forward. But, be patient with yourself as you transition there.

I would love to hear how you are coping with transitions in your relationships.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's Hear it for Teachers!

Teachers should be paid for all those extra hours they work on their own time. As a part-time instructor I probably put in around 10 hours a week on my own time, but of course, no pay. I know that I am not the only one, as my best friend is an elementary school teacher. She spent weeks planning her room for opening day, buying so much of the materials on her own.

I am thrilled to be in a profession that I feel, changes lives. I love what I do and feed off of the energy of my college kids. I feel that I am supposed to be doing this and feel it is the perfect profession for the gifts that God has chosen to grant me. How many others have begun this profession with this same optimism and energy, only to have been discouraged that their jobs did not stop at 4:00. When they go home, another 4-5 hours of school related work is awaiting them. For some teachers I know, this adds up to a 60-70 hour workweek but only getting paid for 40. How many other professions have this kind of schedule and willingly put up with it? Doctors? Lawyers? Possibly many more, but you can bet their paycheck does accomodate their lengthy hours. Can we say the same of our public school teachers?

Some may argue that teachers are adequately paid because they get summers off. But do you realize how short that summer has become? Do you realize how many of these teachers are required to attend month-long seminars during their "summer vacations"? I know that my neice and best friend both were in month- long seminars to retain their certification this past summer and my neice had to pay for it out of her own pocket, not to mention the additional child care that was needed for her son. Just as she finished that seminar she had to begin to put her lesson plans together and decorate her room, all of which occupied weeks before school started. That was a "fun" summer.

I don't know of any current legislation that is offering to increase teacher salaries, but when it happens ,please support it. Teachers pick this profession for all the right reasons, but are leaving it for all the wrong ones.