Black Lives Matter

Hello Dear Readers,

It’s been a while. I actually had a request from a former student (who found my blog) to make an update way back in March, but this was the beginning of the lockdowns in the U.S. and I never found the motivation to write a post. It’s been a stressful time for me.

Then, the resurgence of racial discrimination in the news brought the issues of racial disparity to the forefront once more. Protests erupted amidst the pandemic. Difficult conversations were had. But we need to keep talking and fighting. I’ve struggled with how to help this movement. I’ve made some donations and had some conversations, but it is not enough.

I’m also learning how to handle my anger and find my place in this fight. It is important for me to keep the communication open for other white people instead of pushing them away. Believe me, it can be frustrating to try to get some people to understand. But I will keep trying. I have to.

One way I feel I can really make a difference is with teaching. I’m lucky that I’m in a state where many districts are discussing how to be actively anti-racist, even amidst the issue of schools returning to in-person learning this fall. There is so much work to do, even in 2020. It’s astounding and sad, but it’s true.

This summer, I want to consider ways I can make my teaching actively anti-racist. Two books I will be looking at are Beyond Heroes and Holidays and Using Understanding by Design in the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classroom.

I am also going to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas when my mom is finished reading her copy and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander when my brother is done reading his copy. These two have been on my list for a while, so I need to get on that. I’m also looking to diversify my Fantasy and YA Fantasy reading. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and anything by Octavia E. Butler are my next reads.

Finally, I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes. I’m working to continue growing and learning, and I hope you will to. Here are some resources I’ve found to be helpful:

https://blacklivesmatterboston.org

40+ Books for AntiRacist Teachers – White Fragiles Beware! (summer 2020 update)

View at Medium.com

https://www.weteachnyc.org/resources/?q=racism

Image credit: @tylerfeder on Instagram

Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter.

-Dani

It’s Happening

Hi Peeps,

It’s happening. Writer things are happening!

I wrote the most consistently in a while in January because I set a goal of 750 words a day Monday through Thursday. I did not meet my goal. HOWEVER, I wasn’t too far off, and I wrote a total of about 5,000 words in January. Now, that’s not a lot, but for me, it was fantastic progress. So yay for that!

I also got my first real teaching job this month as a long term substitute English teacher. And, I found out I’ve been accepted into my first writing workshop/residency! I can’t say which yet because I need to coordinate with my new job (😬), but I’m very excited to say the least. Additionally, my first prose poems will be published. So that’s pretty groovy. They will be published in The Alembic, the literary journal of my alma mater, Providence College, in the spring 2020 issue.

Me channeling my inner poet goddess

But seriously, Benito Skinner’s videos are great 😂

Right now, I’m reading The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Yes, yes I’m late to the party, I know.

That’s All For Now,

Dani

Yes, my boyfriend got me a stuffed animal Marie for my birthday, deal with it.

The Winds of Change

Hello Dear Readers,

Once again, it has been too long. I’ve been extremely busy with student teaching, but the good news is I’ll be licensed in December! I have my preliminary license right now, but you only need to hold a bachelor’s degree and pass the applicable standardized tests to get it. This next license, my initial license, is a big step.

While I’m excited for this next part of my journey, I will miss the students and educators I’ve formed connections with these past three months.

In other news, my first poem, Baptized in Blood was published by Boston Accent Lit. The founder and EIC, Sarah O’Brien, attended Providence College with me, and I’m super proud of her initiative and work! If you’re looking for some good poetry, be sure to check out her work here:

https://www.sarahobrien.org

And the link to my poem on Boston Accent Lit here:

https://www.bostonaccentlit.com/watkins

Currently, I’m reading Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. I had no idea Mr. Noah had such an interesting and dangerous life. I’m only about 30 pages in, but I’m enjoying it so far.

I’m also considering doing my own version of NaNoWriMo but in December. Has anyone utilized NaNoWriMo’s tools when it’s not November? Or know of something similar to keep me on track and held accountable in the coming months? My writing has taken a huge hit, and it’s time for that to change!

Here’s to the winds of change,

Dani (aka Marie)

P.S. Apparently I look like Marie from The Aristocats. One of my students told me this, and it’s one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received.

Some News and a Lack of Inspiration

Hello peeps,

It has been a busy few months for me and sadly, none of it is writing related.

Oh dear.

I’m off work again before student teaching starts, so I seriously need to get some writing in! I have not made it very far since my last blog post.

Yeah…so wish me luck because clearly I need it. Yikes.

My short story, Forget Me Not, was published in The Offbeat Volume 19 | Spring 2019, and I finally received my contributor copy in July. Here’s a link to purchase if you’re so inclined: https://theoffbeat.submittable.com/submit/60534/purchase-a-volume-of-the-offbeat

It’s a quirky journal for sure and the whole issue is fantastic.

In other news, I finished reading Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I have Americanah saved in my TBR shelf on goodreads). Looking forward to reading more from Ms. Adichie. Still working on Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb.

So that’s about it for now. I’m hoping that I’ll have some successful writing progress to share with the void (I mean my readers. You exist, right? 😅).

And here’s a video of me throwing an axe because that’s hip and cool and what the kids are into these days, right?

Until We Meet Again,

Dani

84 Years Later

Well, it’s been almost a year. What an amazing blog I run.

I’ve been busy with grad courses and my job. I also had to finagle a way to get observation hours in an high school English class while maintaining my current job. *sigh*

Oh, and I barely got any progress on my novel done this past summer.

2019 started with a bang. I lost my phone on NYE (take that as you may).

So that was fun. And I lost my writing on the app Werdsmith. Yay! I tried to redownload the app but it didn’t recognize my account and made a new one. However, the woman I emailed a million times never gave up on me and eventually, I got everything back. So shoutout to Werdsmith, I might have died otherwise.

I also got into two car accidents in the span of three days. I’m fine, but it could’ve been a lot worse. And then work was really difficult coming back after February break (special education is rewarding but also very, VERY hard).

Okay, the good news: I have no commitments this summer except for work and a few family trips. Soooo, that means THIS summer will be the summer of writing!

Uhh, hopefully I’ll get farther than “The” this summer.

More good news: My short story “Forget Me Not” was published in The Offbeat today! I’m really glad this one found a home.

And, my first prose poem will be published in Boston Accent Lit in May.

Hopefully, I’m on the upswing! I finished reading all three books mentioned in my last post, so that’s something.

I’m currently reading a few books at once. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb. And a book of prose poems I’m reading off and on.

Until Next Time,

Dani

Whoops

Friends, Romans, countrymen,

I am not a good blogger. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Oh well.

I have trouble with consistency if I don’t have a deadline. And before you say, just make your own deadlines, I will alter the heck out of self-imposed deadlines so that usually doesn’t work.

I have the same troubles with writing. I have made some progress on my novel, but the times I write are random and I’m still not writing nearly enough. I’m hoping to set a goal for myself this summer. Fellow writers, do you have any advice for maintaining a writing schedule or tips on how you motivate yourself to write every day? I’d love to hear any thoughts or opinions anyone may have! (Please don’t make me create fake accounts to respond so it looks like at least a few people read this blog…kidding…)

I would end the blog with what I’m reading now, but I’ve fallen behind on my reading goals too. Whoops. Anyhow, here’s my queue:

The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

Barn Again: A Memoir by Alan Good

Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms Series) by Morgan Rhodes

Until Next Time (so like probably four months haha),

Dani

This is Harder than it Looks

Hello Fictional Followers,

It has been too long! I’ve gotten really busy with grad school and I’m still adjusting to the nuances of my job. And so, my writing and blog posts have fallen behind…considerably.

I used to be annoyed when authors didn’t update that frequently. Really, you can’t just write a quick post about what you’ve been doing? However, it’s not that simple. I feel like if I’m writing, I shouldn’t be doing a blog post. I should be working on my novel or some editing! Then I remember I should be doing my schoolwork. And then the blog gets put off until it’s just a fleeting memory, lost in the cobwebs and corners of my dark mind…

Just kidding, I’m sometimes lazy, not disturbed *nervous laughter*. Anyhow, I did do some light editing recently and I submitted two stories, so we’ll see what happens. I also wrote a few pages of my novel, but I need to keep up my progress.

In other news, I’m on book five of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m hoping I can get though the next five so I can watch season two of the show guilt-free. Concurrently, I’m reading book two of the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes. It’s very good, with compelling characters and great action scenes. It’s been touted as the YA Game of Thrones, so if that doesn’t convince you to read the series, I don’t know what will.

That’s all for now and hopefully I’ll be posting again sooner rather than later.

-Dani

Some Updates!

Hello Readers (please leave a comment if you’re real!),

Wow, the holidays are a busy time of year! I just started a new job, so I’ve been especially busy this month. I finished reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. I know, know, I’m WAY late to the party on this one, but I tried reading this series when I was younger and I got scared when I learned the parents die in a fire. So I stopped reading. But I read a few of the Harry Potter books (dead parents is a huge and recurring theme), so I don’t know?

In any case, I watched the tv series and thought it was really well done, so I decided to give the first book another shot. I’m almost glad I’ve waited this long to read it since I can appreciate the dry humor and witty/dark tone better as an adult. Next up, book two, The Reptile Room!

In other news, a short piece I had published in an online journal has now been included in a print anthology. This is the first time I got paid as a writer (it wasn’t much haha), but I feel like this is a milestone and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://autonomous-press.myshopify.com/products/barking-sycamores-year-2

One last tidbit: the super secret editing project I’ve been working on is showing some promise. Here’s a hint: I edited a manuscript for a novel. I can’t reveal much more than that since the author is agent shopping at the moment, but things are looking good (fingers crossed).

That’s all for now!

-Dani

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Hello Readers (both imaginary and hopefully real),

So I just finished reading Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes about a week ago. I’m a sucker for young adult, and I tell myself it’s okay I’m not reading classic literature because I’m writing a YA novel (*nervous laughter as I look at my outlines and maybe 20 pages of writing*). Anyhow, I enjoyed this novel. It’s a solid start to what is a series, and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.

Sometimes there is a misconception that YA novels and series are fluff and are only for teenagers, but many YA books and series I’ve read deal with complicated issues and situations such as loss, controlling governments, betrayal, first loves, break-ups, the list could go on and on. And while the language and storytelling can be weak in some YA books (as with any genre), some of the most powerful images and stunning language I have read came from YA books. Here is a deliciously dark quote from Queen of Hearts when the main character, Dinah, and her friend visit a prisoner in the black towers:

“Faina was pressed against the wall, held tight by leather bonds that looped over her abdomen and chest. She writhed against them, her feet slipping in the black fluid that dripped down from above. Thin tendrils of black roots snaked out of the wall and into Faina Baker’s open mouth, nose, and ears. All down her body, the black roots circled and twisted, moving slowly, leaving a thin black film as they slithered inch by inch. Dinah gripped Wardley’s arm as a tendril crawled its way up Faina’s face” (Oakes 174-5).

The visceral language here evokes horror and fascination at the same time. The whole black towers scene had a haunting ambience that contributed to Dinah’s growth as a character.

Hopefully the YA books I read can provide inspiration for my own writing and perhaps encourage me to take risks with my characters or plot or language. Because young adult, despite what one may think, isn’t always for the faint of heart.

-Dani

P.S. I didn’t intend to make the last sentence a pun, but I guess I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!

Okay, I’m done.

Welcome

Hello World!

Or rather, the few people that came across this site by accident and maybe one or two people that are interested in my work?

Self-deprecation aside, welcome to my website. I’m an aspiring author with a few online literary magazine publications and a whole lot of dreams. But rather than bore you with my non-existent writing career, I want my posts to be entertaining and hopefully enjoyable!

Okay, so yeah…how about the weather lately? Crazy stuff, you know what I’m saying?

Nah, I’m just kidding! I’m thinking of doing a series of blog posts about what I’m currently reading. Good writers need to be good readers, right? I’ve hit a slow patch with my reading (my Goodreads reading challenge weeps in the distance, never to be fulfilled), but hopefully I can offer up some suggestions or at least some interesting discussion.
That’s All For Now,

Dani