Three UNEXPECTED Pieces of This story

The days of telling stories just to free them from the overcrowding inside my brain has past. And still, when I write something out of my norm it makes me nervous.

Enter the short story “Unexpected” coming in August. It’s one of four stories in the ONE SULTRY DAY anthology from Roane Publishing.

No, this isn’t an apology for my “outside the norm” writing.

Yes, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it with the same sense of expectation as other stories I’ve written.

This post gives a short list of what’s different about “Unexpected.”

An Unusual Shero

Most heroines-she hero or shero-are slender girls with the usual curves and model-length hair. It’s what romances are made of. Right?

Not this romance. My shero is tall and stocky. When she runs into the hero, it’s obvious that she outweighs him. He might even be staring UP at her.

Whoops! She’s also athletic and tomboy-ish.

Okay, there’s nothing wrong with these things. But they aren’t the norm in romance. Women look up to the man. He’s stronger than her.

I’m all for breaking stereotypes but I hope I don’t go too far with Ivory Konner.

An Unlikely Hero

As you can see, the hero isn’t the alpha manly type. He’s gangly and thin and has a pasty look about him.
It all makes sense when you learn his backstory. But that’s not all the issues I’ve given him.

Prescott Colyer is sensitive to touch. In fact, when he comes into contact with another person, it burns him. (Read the story to learn why this is so.) I took many of his responses from those I encountered while working with autistic students.

But I didn’t want him to be autistic. He is ARTISTIC, but that’s a whole other idiosyncrasy.

New Adult Tropes

The first couple short stories I wrote dealt with new adult tropes. Even though that’s only been a few years, new adult has fallen into disuse.

What can I do? The central problem for both of my characters revolves around their decisions for their future. The fact their parents disapprove is something that draws them together.

But it’s realistic to think it will also drive them apart. That’s how it works in the real world.

After publishing novellas with middle-aged main characters, this story feel like a stretch.

An entire post airing my insecurities. This is what it’s like every time I put another story out into the public eye.

What are your favorite sorts of characters to read about? What’s more important that you can relate to their issues or that you believe their problems could be real?

Note: If you want to read another excerpt from this story, join my Facebook “Friends & Fans” group. I’ll only be posting excerpts and giveaway details there from now on.

Another Note: There will be a giveaway associated with this books release. It will run from August 6 – August 26. The prizes are a $10 Amazon gift card and three eBook copies of ONE SULTRY DAY (four separate winners). Have you joined the Friends Group yet?

Four Things Disneyland Needs to Know about Lines

Unlike some couples who have cake and punch with friends, my husband and I headed to a couple theme parks for our wedding anniversary. Normally, I’m not even a fan of theme parks, but since the man offered…who am I to turn away a free trip to Anaheim?

Thursday, we went to Downtown Disney. It was early afternoon and there was basically no line through the check-point. You know, where they search your bags and then direct you through a metal detector? That’s the kind of country we live in *shakes head sadly*

The wonderful world of Harry Potter beckoned on Friday. At Universal Studios, they wrap the entrance line through those chains and ropes (like all the rides do), and you never actually stop moving. So even though it was a huge crowd, we didn’t wait too long to get into the park.

Disneyland on Saturday? It was a nightmare.

The line(s) stretched back to the main street and buses kept dropping people off. There was no clear direction for people, although Disney employees did come out and try to direct people into “people with bags” and “people without bags.”

If my husband, who had no bag, had left me, he probably could have ridden two rides before I ever got through the metal detectors. But he didn’t leave me to survive the disorganization alone.

The mayhem flabbergasted me. It’s not like Disney is new to crowds. Or long lines. How can they have such confusion in a process that Universal streamlined with a few ropes and chains?

Here’s my advice to Disneyland:

  1. Visit Universal Studios when the park first opens. Notice how they have 25 metal detectors spread across the plaza in front of their admissions gate.
  2. Invest in more metal detectors. It’s not like they don’t make enough cash to ease the lineup in this way ($200 for admission, $35 for a t-shirt, $20 for lunch).
  3. Paint some lanes on the ground. Okay, this might look tacky in the Google Earth shots, but when hoards of people circumvented the obvious line, I was thankful we were at the “happiest place on Earth.” Some patrons weren’t impressed with the line-cutters.
  4. Send more employees to direct the flow and organize lines.

We waited close to an hour just to get our bags searched. About the time we got to the front, they were waving people around the metal detector. Get your bags searched, but skip that next step.

If they’re seriously concerned about safety, this felt like a bad move. Someone planning to make the news by terrorizing the Happiest Place on Earth could easily work this system into their nefarious plans.

Once we were waved along without going through the red light/green light gate, we waited another fifteen or twenty minutes for entrance through the turnstiles. At least there were obvious lines here.

Now that Disney is taking photos of every ticket holder and printing out tickets that correspond with that image on their ticket readers, it takes a little longer to get through the gate. I hope that’s helping them catch people who are trying to avoid paying the exorbitant admission price.

Because it certainly isn’t smoothing the admission process.

Disney knows how to line people up so they can fit the most people in the least amount of space and trick them into believing the line is moving right along (regardless of signs warning the wait is 45 or 60 minutes). It’s time they applied that experiential know-how at the front gate.

What other tips might speed things along? Have you had a similar experience at Disney?

5 Battle Tools To Help In Hard Moments

For several years, I’ve been applying as an advanced reviewer for both fiction and nonfiction books. Most of the time, I’m excited to read these books, and even more thrilled to share my thoughts about them.
I started following Kelly Balarie’s blogs a year or so ago when she released a book called Fighting Fear. After all, that was during my “No Fear this Year” phase. It seemed like she had something to offer me in my battle against fear.
Even though I didn’t read that book (although I have ordered it and will read it now), her weekly blog posts encouraged me. When she asked for volunteers to help her launch her next book, I applied.
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Battle Ready? Well, sure. The Apostle Paul warned that we were in a spiritual battle, but how does that look in my life?
If you’re wondering the same thing, read this book. Kelly’s transparency touched my heart. And she quoted TONS of scripture, so I knew I was hearing heavenly wisdom, not just her thoughts on these subjects.
This is a book to be savored. There are journaling activities, do them. Take each chapter in and don’t move to the next until you’re sure God has given you a glimpse of the mindset discussed: from Identity to Objectivity to Positivity.
Still not sure it’s for you?
Here’s a post from Kelly to give you a tiny sample of what’s inside this book.

5 Battle Tools To Help In Hard Moments

By: Kelly Balarie

She didn’t so much as say hi to me. In fact, even worse, she walked right past me, looking the other direction. She pretended I wasn’t there. Hmph!! After all I’ve done for her. After all I’ve given her. After how I’ve gone out of my way to love her.

Now I’m the one left looking like a crazed waving-at-the-air fool. Like -an idiot.

I humphat her husband along the way to my church seat. Silently, I critique her in my mind, She’s rude. Before not too long, I get side-tracked by own thoughts: Everyone always hurts me. Like that boy, I asked to dance in 4th grade. Like those girls who circled up to whisper about me in that damp locker room. Like the group of women who act like they’re far better than me.

I’m supposed to be listening in church, but who can listen, thinking about all this, all them!?

Here, I find myself, in the heat of a horrible battle. You can always tell if you’re in the heat-of-a-battle. Almost instantly, your soul-crushing problem magnifies 100x larger than your promise-keeping God. Suddenly, you’re standing weaponless, in all-out combat within your own mind. Hardly able to win.

Ever been there?

I’ve struggled through a lot–through massive health-scares, depression, an eating disorder, financial debt and relationship-severing dramas. Battles. Huge, hard-fought battles, loaded with momentary decisions of pain, struggle and uncertainty.

I remember the time:

  1. The doctor returned to the room with the clipboard saying, “You really might have Mulitple Sclerosis.”
    I thought: How do I keep my thoughts close to God with this kind of news?

2. My colicky newborn made me pace my hallways 24-7. Sleepless, hardly-thinking and powerless to change my health-situation, I didn’t know what to do.
I thought: How do I still love people when my whole life is unraveling?

3. A family member called me to say I really should get on setting up long-term care for myself.
I thought: How do I deal with the fact all my dreams will now look different than I thought?

Through all this, I realized, real wisdom is having a battle-plan.

Let’s talk about Christ-centered battle-plan preparedness. Begin by asking yourself: What am I currently facing?

Identifying your main struggles (resentment, regret, trauma, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, fear) is to allow God to help you win your battle. For example, for me, underneath that issue with the girl, was an old war full of rejection, humiliation, and abandonment from years past. Underneath, were old battles I’d lost–because they were left unaddressed. Therefore, they left me with resentment towards God.

Seeing our battles for what they are, gives us a clear-cut strategy to fight – and win. It also removes all the pent-up offenses that, like plaque, cover our heart.

What about you? Do you emotionally respond to happenings set before you or do you wisely act based on God’s Word and promises?

Today, you can fight your battle a new way. Consider:

  1. Asking God what feelings of fear, worry, anger, resentment, neglect and hurt He desires you give to him.

2. Giving those hurts to Jesus, by saying, “Jesus, I am not meant to carry these. Forgive me. They’ve hurt me for far too long. I know and believe you have peace, joy, life and freedom for me as I give you these things.”

3. Blessing any women who have hurt you.

4. Reframing your moments of hurt. (Example: when she passed by me quickly, she was probably was in a rush, she might have had something to do or she lost in thought)

5. Returning to a heart of love. (Example: Thank you Go d that you love me and I can love others. In fact, I can love the very person who hurt me by ___.)

This is the start of being Battle Ready. There truly are practical insights, wise biblical instructions and truths that can help you rise above the mayhem of trials and hardships. You can find the light of Christ and step into all God has for you.

The victory belongs to the Lord. Isn’t it time you began to make room for it?

About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously

“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt,disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!” – Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to· make new habits stick in just five steps· disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women· exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts· implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace· create boundaries so you live life full of what matters

Buy Battle Ready here: https://amzn.to/2l5qQrw

To get Battle Ready freebies – printables, devotional reminders, a customizable daily Battle Plan and the“Find Your Battle Style” quiz, visit: www.iambattleready.com

To order the companion Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal that will help you practically change your thoughts, then your life, click here.

Have You Had Enough of Me Yet?

A deluge of sales promotions, newsletters and reminders to check out the latest and greatest overflow your email inbox. I get it. The same thing happens to me. You’re probably sick of reading another post from me so soon after the last one.

Now you’re in luck.

Starting this month, I’ll be reducing the number of blogs I post each week to…one.

That’s right.

Even though I’ve been told to update my website with new content several days per week, I’ve decided that my days of blogging are slogging.

One thing that convinced me to make this move? This article by Writer’s Digest writers.
I’ve been slacking a little more each month. It’s been a chore to come up with content I think might interest you while still working at the school and writing new fiction.

According to the writing professionals at WD, new readers aren’t going to find me through my blog. And those of you who enjoy reading my fiction aren’t all that interested in following my blog.
So why am I blogging again?

To give my URL traction with the Google search engines.

I’m not even sure that’s been happening.
As much as I’ve been struggling with the stories, it’s been even more of a chore to find interesting tidbits to post here every week.

And writing shouldn’t be a chore. Not in any form.

But I want to connect with people who are actually reading my writing. In all the years I’ve blogged regularly (and there are YEARS worth of content on this site), I’ve never had a conversation in the comments of my blogs. People comment on the shared links on Facebook. Or maybe send a private message.
The comments here are scarce. Which leads me to believe that this isn’t the best forum for connecting with my audience.
I’ve started a group on Facebook. If you want to talk about my books, give me advice on what to write next and learn about upcoming releases and sales, click over there. Join up, my friend, and let the conversation begin.


Starting today, you’ll only see posts from me every Monday. Unless you’d like to see them on Thursday?
Okay, next week I’ll post on Thursday (but that’s the day after a U.S. holiday this week). Maybe I’ll check my site stats after that and determine if more people visit when I post on Monday or Thursday.
Or is there another day of the week you’d like me to post?

Summer with THE SUNSHINE SISTERS

Have I mentioned how much I love using Overdrive to checkout eBooks without ever leaving my house? It is the perfect library. And THE SUNSHINE SISTERS by Jane Green is a title you should check out (by any checkout method).


This isn’t my typical read. I say that half the time I write a review, I know. Maybe you’re wondering, “What IS your typical read?”
Glad you asked. I typically read:

  1. Fantasy – YA and series as opposed to epic. This is the genre that helps me escape and fully engages my imagination
  2. Christian Romance – I’m writing in this genre fairly regularly, so I need to read it in order to write it better. I also prefer things like Susan May Warren’s adventure romances over a straight “boy and girl fall in love” romance.
  3. Sweet Romance that’s more than just romance – I mean that there’s a mystery or an adventure or something. The romances I write tend to lean toward this, as well. The story is about the character’s struggle to change and the romance is a catalyst in that process.
  4. Women’s fiction – usually this is for a book club (as is the case with Ms. Green’s book reviewed below), but I’m also branching out into this genre because it’s where I hope to write in the future.

The Story

This is the story of a mother and her daughters.

The mother is a “B movie” actress who is always hoping for her big break. This motivation informs every decision she makes and impacts her children.

The oldest daughter, Nell, closes herself off to emotion. It’s the way she learned to cope with her mother’s rants and rages. When she becomes a single mother, she makes different choices for herself and her son, fully loving him as she doesn’t anyone else.

The middle daughter, Meridith, becomes a people-pleaser. She runs to London and her grandparents when she’s eighteen, but she can’t make independent decisions. Every time she does, it turns out badly which reinforces the lie that she’s meant to make others happy while ignoring her own unhappiness.

And then there’s the spoiled youngest girl, Lizzy. She roars through life mowing down all who try to stand in her way. This doesn’t make her successful or larger than life, but it does make her more like her mother than she’s willing to admit.

The story problem: can this family overcome the differences that divide them to unite and become a true family?

My Review

This story starts at the end. I don’t like that. It steals the tension from the story for me.
I think, “Oh, so she’s going to..blank.” Why do I care about what leads to that decision?

Green won me over by sharing only vignettes from the forty years of the characters’ lives that mattered to understand 1) why each daughter responded to her mother in that way and 2) where their personal lie came from. She proved she knew how to craft a great story.

Often if there are more than a couple narrating characters, I disengage from the story of many of them and gravitate to those chapters narrated by the ones I connected with. Even with four (and more) narrators, that didn’t happen with this book.

This doesn’t mean I LIKED all the narrators, but their stories intersected in a way that kept me engaged. Each scene moved the characters closer to the big reveal readers glimpsed in the opening chapter (a prologue).

There were several aspects that felt contrived to me and even came out of the blue rather than being hinted at naturally. And I predicted every outcome of the story (but I usually do, that’s a curse of being a fiction writer).

The end satisfied me in every way and gave a glimpse into what the future might hold for THE SUNSHINE SISTERS.

This is a 4.6 out of five star read, and well worth the time investment (and I devoured it in two days).

My Recommendation

This is a book for anyone with sisters or a mother. Yeah, that is most of you. Doesn’t everyone have a mother at least?

Even though I didn’t especially like the main mother character in this story, I could still relate to her struggles and failures. This is what makes the most meaningful story, and authors who are able to draw characters that our so real we “know” them deserve respect and praise.

Thanks for your wonderful snapshot of the Sunshine family, Ms. Green. You entertained, engaged and even enlightened me.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? What are your favorite genres to read?

Sneak Peek Inside UNEXPECTED

In honor of summer, I’ve decided to give you a peek inside my sweet summer romance. It’s something of an unexpected story in an anthology with three other sweet romances.
If you want to read the blurbs, check this out.


As for my story, the meet cute was inspired by a very real hike on the exact trail where my shero is trotting in the opening scene.

There were no interesting males to meet on the trail. I’m a happily married woman. Dogs? Yes, there were many. Some without leashes like Rembrandt.

Their meet cute is the scene I sent to my publisher. You deserve something fresh and new.
When love and isolation collide, only the bravest hearts survive.

Ivory’s determination steams face-first into Prescott’s dream with unexpected results.
Sound interesting?

I admit I’m nervous because these characters are unique in ways I’ve never written before. She’s taller and broader than him, and he’s a little too skinny and pasty to be handsome.

They’re not the typical 22-year-olds, either. She’s heading back for a Master’s degree her parents oppose. He’d a college dropout with his paint-stained fingers and an aversion to physical contact.

It sounds nothing like a perfect match.

Still interested?

Read on for a peek at their story. This is from a non-line-edited chapter six (translation: it might not be exactly the same as what you’ll see in the book come August 6).

After multiple trips on roots and rocks, Ivory’s gaze stayed fixed on the ground. Until she plowed into Prescott’s back with an unladylike grunt. She peeked over his shoulder into a wash several yards away. A doe curled under a pine tree, ears tilted in their direction while a speckled fawn sniffed at the detritus of needles, cones, leaves and twigs lining the edge of the runoff. It hadn’t rained for several weeks, so the ground was dry, and the snapping of the fawn’s hooves against the foliage carried to their ears.
Prescott eased his camera upward. If he couldn’t capture the scene in a photo, hopefully his artistic brain could memorize it well enough to paint later. A portrait of the pair would make an excellent addition to his collection.
The snap of the shutter echoed in the quiet forest. A chipmunk chattering above them went silent, and birds stopped calling to each other.
Ivory held her breath. As if her breathing could be heard by the diligent mother.
A crow cawed. The fawn’s head snapped up and its ears swiveled forward. Snap. The Dumbo-esque ears twitched toward them. Prescott stilled.
Spots dotted the edge of Ivory’s vision. Her fists clamped Prescott’s hips, and she buried her face in his shoulder blade. Only then did she expel her air and draw another breath.
When she looked up, Prescott’s face was turned toward her, a wary look in his eye.
She was touching him. He didn’t like that. Although she didn’t really understand the pain he experienced at physical contact, she had no desire to hurt him.
“Sorry.” At the moment she mouthed the word, a flurry across the clearing drew their attention.
The doe scrambled to her feet and herded her baby into the trees. Her deep brown eyes stared right at them before she slipped into the forest, out of sight in seconds.
“How did she hear that?” This time there was actual volume in her words.
Prescott’s throat bobbed. His gaze flitted to her lips. Her pulse lunged into her throat.
She stared into his eyes. From a distance, the amber ring around his iris made his eyes appear hazel, but up close they were as brown as Rembrandt’s but accented by the golden halo.
“Your eyes are amazing.” As soon as the words tumbled out, Ivory regretted them. Too bad this wasn’t email. No immediate recalls if you hit send too quickly.
He angled his body toward her, his shoulder mere centimeters from her breast. “Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”
“Why? My eyes are muddy green. You have this cool circle.” She nibbled her lip.
He stared intently into her eyes. “Your eyes are the color of a deep fishing hole or tarragon leaves.” His fingers touched the corner of her eye.
She blinked. “A poet and a painter. How is it you don’t have a line of girlfriends?”
His face flushed before a grin quirked half his mouth. Her heart lurched at the sight. If he smiled like this all the time, women would swoon at his feet for sure.
If you liked this, why not share it on your social media? Or maybe forward the link to your friends who like to read?

If you follow my Hero Delivery newsletter, I’ll be sending out an opportunity for a FREE advanced copy of the anthology in exchange for an honest review. Watch your email inbox OR join my Facebook group.
Are you still interested in reading this? More or less interested than before?

Who’s Ready for A VIRTUAL LOVE STORY?

I signed the contract for my first full-length novel a couple weeks ago. The Virtual Match novella series put me through the wringer to become a novel that the same publisher will release ONLY in paperback.

Thank you Roane Publishing for believing in this story! I hope the readers of the novellas who complained about not getting to know Marcus well enough or wanting a real happily ever after will appreciate the 20,000 words I added to make this story complete.

And, yes, much of that is from Marcus Jordan’s perspective.

Here’s the lovely cover.

And now the blurb:

A devastating secret imprisons her. Veronica Shay bemoans her mother’s insistence that love will complete and fulfil her. The Virtual Match Ronnie hires might keep the matchmakers at bay if she can protect her heart from the man behind the texts.

Marcus Jordan, haunted by past relational failures, bumbles in Veronica’s presence. When opportunity presents itself, he poses as her virtual boyfriend. They forge a relationship, but is it built on lies?

When they meet in person, Ronnie can’t reconcile the lies with the truth in her heart. And Marcus can’t maintain the digital image he’s created.

Desperation drives Ronnie to set up a real date with Marcus, but nothing involving her family is ever easy. After her therapist gives her an ultimatum and her family gets horrible news, she’s ready to head back to the safe-haven of a career-centered life.

But her secret is out. Marcus believes he can heal Veronica’s heart. He steps out on a limb to bring her closure, but the olive branch snaps. He plummets to a new low, alone and unlovable, fodder for the ghosts of his past.

Earthquake upon earthquake shakes Ronnie’s world. Can she admit that love is worth the risk? Is being virtually happy possible in the harsh glare of reality?

Look for this paperback on November 19, 2018, just in time for holiday reading.

In the coming months, I’ll be offering chances to pick up advance copies in exchange for an honest review. If you’d be interested in that, make sure you’re a member of my mailing list or my Faceback group. The announcements will only go out via those outlets. I’m limiting my blog to more creative nonfiction about my life.

No one wants to see a constant stream of promotions, am I right?

If you’ve read any of the novellas, what did you think? Would you invest in a paperback to get the rest of the story?

Amazon: Destroyer of Future Plans

I’ve never been one of those author with scathing commentary about the monopolizing power of Amazon’s book store. Instead I was all-in with several Kindle-only titles.

Then they pulled the plug on Kindle Worlds.

At the moment this was announced, I was begging beta readers to return their comments on the third book for the series published in this universe. That story was planned to release in less than two months.

The day after the announcement, I got my royalty statement from Amazon showing the first month when two titles were available for sale. It was great. The sales had been strong and steady, more than anything else I’ve ever published.

Amazon was jerking the rug out from under my expanding readership.

Worse, I was positive that the introduction to this world and the amazing influencer who conceived it was the future of my writing career. At least for the next couple years.

Thanks, Amazon, for demolishing that business plan I made a week earlier.

But as much as this derailed my career planning, I knew the news was even worse for Melissa Storm.

I messaged her. I wanted to encourage her and let her know that no one was mad at her and we hoped we could still work together.

By the next day, she’d formed her own publishing company.

And why not? She has an incredible platform of followers. She launches all her new releases to the bestseller list.

Those characters I was dropping into Sweet Grove aren’t displaced after all. Their stories will be told.
*Shakes fist at Big Brother Amazon*
In the future, I might even explore some of the other shared series worlds she’s planning to launch along with Sweet Promise Press.

So if you’re an author, you should check it out. There’s a form to fill out if you want to write for her.

Those lines in my business plan that mention Kindle Worlds will have to be lined out. But those titles should still reach you.

In a few weeks, I’ll give you a glance into the next First Street Church novella. When I know the release date, I’ll pass it on.

Make sure you don’t miss any of these updates. Follow my author page on Facebook. Better yet, join my Facebook group.

It’s nice to know that Amazon doesn’t actually have the same destructive power of…Thanos. Indie authors unite with more strength than the Avengers, too.

Do you buy most of your books from Amazon? Is there any way we can curb their market share?

Five Ways to Teach Classics in High School Literature Class

Shakespeare. The Bard. A true genius in literary circles. Ask anyone with an advanced degree in the subject. And some without a degree at all concur.

Me? Not so much.

That didn’t stop me from teaching OTHELLO in four sophomore classrooms a few weeks ago. What I mean by “teach” is to let an audio recording read Act IV to the class while I paused occasionally to ask clarifying questions and double-check for understanding.
And once to just point out the lovely irony the Bard does so well which I do like.
The students had time to write a summary and pick out some figurative language for their assignment. I admit, by class three, I was commenting on some of the personification in one of Othello’s monologues.

Does that count as giving them answers? *shrugs*

Then I played the 1995 movie. Kenneth Brannagh plays Honest (HA) Iago and Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus from MATRIX) takes the title role. We watched Act IV.

Yes, I did this four times. I was playing Words with Friends and scrolling through Facebook during the movie the last few times. Although I did chime in when something was clarified once they could SEE it played out.

Shakespeare scripts were meant to be seen not read.

No matter what you say, I will not be pursuaded from this. If there hadn’t been movie adaptations for the nine plays I had to watch in my college Shakespeare class, I would have failed it.
The man didn’t even give stage directions.

You need the actors to interpret it for you and then learn from their actions.

It was during the final teaching session that a sophomore boy asked, “Why do we have to read this? Couldn’t we study something newer and easier to understand and learn the same things?”

Oh, young man, we certainly do need to study (not read) Shakespeare and other classics. But it’s time to be honest, high school students aren’t getting much out of it.

Use something modern that alludes to the classic.

In preparation for writing this post, I Goggled “Why teach classics in high school?” Links back to many of the articles I found on the subject will be included.

One article on an Advanced Placement literature help site claimed it was a disservice not to teach classics. One of the main arguments was because so many modern references derive their meaning from classical literature.

It’s true. As an aside, I fully believe advanced literature courses should cover the classics, and only the classics. Those students are preparing for college and they’ll need the analytical skills a great literature class teaches.

For the average student, I might recommend a book like THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt. In it, the narrator is forced to study Shakespeare while every other student in his class goes to their weekly religious classes.

The students will engage with this novel’s story, and teachers can take time to delve slightly into the Shakespearian references that are made. In this way, the class stays engaged with the reading, and those who find Shakespeare interesting have now been given a sample. They’re free to check him out of the library or binge watch him on Netflix.

Pair a small bite of a classic with something more current.

Most students shut down when you show them an old story. They don’t care how much it influenced literature or society. All they care about is that it is OLD, and therefore doesn’t relate to them.
Students of literature know better. But general high school classes aren’t meant to make literature buffs out of students.

What is the purpose of literature class in high school? Go ahead and Google it. I did.

Students think the purpose it so learn to research a topic and write an essay on it. Teachers think it’s about grammar, vocabulary, reading and comprehension of broad categories (so why do they have to read a Shakespeare play in every year of high school?), studying the literary culture of English societies and organizing information and communicating it to others. Oh, they say the research and citation aspect is also important.

In any case, there is no reason to wade through hundreds of pages of classical literature to learn these skills. In the era of memes and movies, students want to be entertained. If you entertain them, they’ll learn more.

Ignoring the culture of learning is antithesis to teaching. Great educators can adapt their methods to fit their students. I know this because I worked in a special education classroom for ten years, and in that room, it was all about adaptation.

Invest in different formats of the classic.

I’m not a fan of graphic novels. I want words or I want pictures.

That doesn’t mean the upcoming generation feels the same. If we can put To Kill A Mockingbird in a more accessible format without damaging the beauty of the original language, why wouldn’t we do it?

If a student will read the book in graphic novel format, isn’t that better than if they don’t read it? You say you’ll read it aloud in class. Fine, but we know how easy it is to tune our brains to something else when we’re not interested in the topic at hand.

The key is in making adaptations that maintain the integrity of the original. And companies are trying to do it. Schools should make a market for this important work by investing in new books in a format that engages their students.

Put the classic into historical context.

Many of the posts I read on the subject said the most important reason for studying the classics was because of the cultural insight it imparts.

Wouldn’t this be better off in history class then?

I’d argue for the combined humanities courses that fall in and out of favor in our state’s middle school environments. That’s a perfect age to marry these two subjects.

But those students aren’t going to wade through UNCLE TOM’S CABIN to understand the American cultural climate. Good grief! I barely managed to wade through it as a junior in high school and I was an advanced reader and writer who devoured any book that was handed to me.

Except that one. But I did slog through it.

An excerpt or two could be gleaned from the text on the pertinent cultural lessons. This way, students can access the benefits in a dose they can handle.

Curate the substance and present it in a medium students relate with.

English and literature teachers are the experts on the subject matter. However, they aren’t meant to make experts of their students.

That’s why there are curriculum learning objectives.

As an author, I have to kill my darlings if I want to produce stories that readers will read. This means brilliantly written scenes get cut from the manuscript and filed in my “cut scenes” document.

High school teachers need to do the same. Is symbolism in literature an important thing for students to grasp? And if it is, then choose a modern book they are familiar with (one that has a movie to go along with it) to teach it.

Why? Because using a source they aren’t interested in to teach them a subject they think is pointless is only going to frustrate everyone. They won’t learn, and you’ll feel like a horrible teacher.

The English department at every high school needs to have a round table. The state mandates the learning objectives. Let the teachers decide which literature is best suited to the objective and the audience.

Too often, thought isn’t given to the audience. For an author, that’s the top of an ice-slick slope with an avalanche brewing at your feet. It’s time teachers realized it puts them in a precarious position to only think about what they want to teach instead of how their students will best learn.
What are your thoughts? Did you LOVE reading ROMEO AND JULIET in high school? Are there other ways to teach classics to teenagers who play video games and watch movies rather than read?