Tag Archives: Hollywood

Equations with the Stubbly Good Witch

“Think about what things mean.” This was my advice to my son as I drove him to his little slice of hell — school.  That particular day would be more hellish than usual as he had both his Geometry and Science final exams.   Like me, he would almost rather have a colonoscopy, including the dreaded prep, than be forced to learn math or science.  I felt for him, so I offered him the words of advice that got me through high school math.  Mr. Scott said them almost daily.  Whenever he would write a super long equation on the board and look out at sea of confused dog looks, he would simply say, “Think about what things mean.”  This simple philosophy has gotten me through a lot more than math.

 Mr. Scott was my favorite teacher even though he taught my most hated subject – math.  I had him for Algebra in ninth grade, and again for Integrated Math my senior year.  As a teacher, he was the perfect combination of firm, professional, and funny.  He knew his subject, but he didn’t just stand there and drone on and on about variables and the order of operations.  No.  He always kept our attention, even if he had to wear a dress.

 Yes, I said a dress.  No. Mr. Scott was not a drag queen, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  He was a Vietnam veteran with a permanent five o’clock shadow who usually dressed like a gas station attendant.  I’m serious.  He had a bunch of gas station attendant shirts with his name, Frank, on the front.  They were from all different stations.  I used to sit there and try to imagine where he got them.  He couldn’t have just ordered them on Amazon because it was 1987 and Amazon, or the Internet, or laptops, or iPhones, didn’t exist yet.  No.  He would have had to work at all of the gas stations to get a shirt. Either that or he toured the country finding gas station attendants named Frank who needed some extra cash.  No matter how he got them, I wasn’t sure why he wore them.  Maybe it was to remind himself that no matter how horrible high school students were, teaching was still better than pumping gas.  (Young people, gas station attendants used to pump people’s gas for them.) Whatever the reason, he wore them almost daily, except, as I mentioned, when he wore dresses.

 One particular Halloween (See, I told you he wasn’t a drag queen.), I remember walking into his class on the second floor of the old 600 hall at South Broward High School and almost walking right into his magic wand.  That’s right.  Mr. Scott, Frank from the Shell station, was dressed as Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  I couldn’t help but laugh all the way to my seat.  He just stood there and looked at me like, “What?”  I took my seat expecting an easy day of not really doing math.  I was wrong. 

 Mr. Scott began class by walking carefully across the classroom in his sparkly shoes and shiny dress, and pointing to the board with his wand.  He called on me, of course, and said, “Lisa, what is the quadratic formula?”  I looked at him like he was nuts, but he insisted that I say the formula out loud while he grabbed a piece of chalk with his wandless hand.  I’m happy to say that I got it ALMOST right.  I forgot to say “the opposite of” before I said “B.”  I’m sure at age 41 I still know MOST of the quadratic formula because of this experience. 

I never grew to love math, but I sure remembered it better after watching a man with a five o’clock shadow in a dress teach it.  Over the years, Mr. Scott donned many costumes, some of them dresses and some of them more masculine, like when he was Vince Fontaine in the school’s production of Grease.  No matter how he was dressed, he always took the time to slow down and show us HOW to think about what things mean.

 I kept that in my head during the SAT and I actually scored higher in Math than in English.  (Note: I ended up becoming an English professor.) I kept thinking about what things meant through college, marriage, caring for a baby, a divorce, a new marriage, moving across the country, and a host of other experiences.  Basically, whenever I was getting frustrated or taking things too seriously, I would stop and think about what things really meant.   Usually, they weren’t as bad, or as serious as I thought, once I really THOUGHT about them.  Sometimes, all I needed to do was put on a sparkly dress and laugh.  That always helps.  Thank you, Mr. Scott, wherever you are.

 

My First Bad Book Review

I just read a really negative review of my YA novel, Misfit Academy. I’m sorry I haven’t paid more attention to my Amazon reviews. I had missed this little Christmas time gem because I was doing all of the other things writers have to do nowadays, like:

  • Pin award winning graphics to Pinerest.
  • Tweet ever so funny yet not offensive things on Twitter every 42 seconds.
  • Build a solid Facebook following of loyal readers.
  • Post cat pictures on Instagram.
  • Write a blog at least once a week, if not more often.
  • Cry while reviewing my blog’s Google Analytics.
  • Create a media kit that attracts sponsors.
  • Still work a day job.
  • Take care of the family by cooking, doing laundry, and everything else.

Anyway, I’m not going to use the reviewer’s real name.   Instead, I will call her A, which is her first initial. Yes, the reviewer is a woman. Who else would be vindictive enough to waste time writing a somewhat lengthy review of a book she hated? A man would toss the book in the trash, or delete it off his Kindle, have a beer and watch TV. So, I will call her A. I want to protect her privacy and I think it’s really funny to call a Canadian A. See what I did there, eh?

Though A’s review was harsh, I did learn some valuable things, and of course I’m going to share them with you all. I hope you are fluent in sarcasm. A isn’t.

My main character did not have a name. I thought I had named him Scott Price, but not according to A, “We follow (no name), a bitter teenager is convinced that the world is working against him. He claims to be a victim of bullying.”

Lesson learned. The next time I write a novel in the first person I should make the character refer to himself in the third person, like Bob Dole, so his name is evident even though the OTHER CHARACTERS talk to him and call him by name. In the case of Misfit Academy, “I, Scott Price, drove to school” would have worked. Noted.

A, if you had not read the book at all, and it sounds like you did more of a skim than a read, you could have learned SCOTT’S name from reading the other reviews. Just sayin’.

I might be schizophrenic. According to A, I grew up in a town that does not exist. Yikes. Here is her evidence, “Although, I’m pretty sure she said it was in Florida, but she keeps referencing Hollywood. So I either I misread (which is possible) or geography is an issue.”

In a panic, thinking my entire childhood and young adulthood was one big hallucination; I did a little Google research. BIG sigh of relief. I found that not only is Hollywood, FL real, but Alabama, Maryland, and South Carolina also have Hollywoods. So, it’s not just California. I can cancel my psychiatrist appointment now.

On a related note, I was both shocked and thrilled to learn there is actually ONE Canadian out there who has never heard of Hollywood, FL. When I was growing up, I could have sworn that the entire country of Canada came to Hollywood every winter. This made parking near the beach a real bitch, which is why SCOTT (THAT IS HIS NAME) complains about Canadians a lot in the book. Almost all residents of beach towns like Hollywood complain about the tourists. They are not racists; they just want parking spaces.

Misfit Academy is not Anime. I would likely give A a bad review, too, as she writes some sort of Anime books. Anime is totally not my genre. My book is realistic fiction, so it is totally not her genre. I’m wondering why she bought it, half-read it, and wrote a review. I’m guessing she either lost a bet or A was drinking and Amazoning.

Teens in Canada are WAY different from American teens. Either A doesn’t get sarcasm at all, OR she was a perfectly kind teen with no doubts, hormones, or mood swings. She never had a bad thought about anyone, and she embraced all nationalities like a United Nations on legs.

Buildings are people, too. A gave me many helpful hints, like the fact that I should have developed the school as a character. She suggested, “The author misses out on developing one of the most important characters of the book, the school.”

Wait. What? You want me to make a building into a person. Either you’re doing more than booze or you are actually a Republican member of the U.S. Congress. This sounds a lot like the whole corporations are people thing.

I have 50 Shades of Punctuation going on. According to A, “Writing wise, there’s plenty of comma abuse, meaning she could have used a period and the writing would have been cleaner and less rambling-like.”

I pictured myself whipping poor, little commas. Then, I realized she was talking about the fact that I use a comma before and in a serial list.  Those are OXFORD commas, A. We use those over here in Murica. OXFORD. Also, here’s a free grammar lesson for you. There is a space in a lot. I noticed you wrote “alot” a lot in your review. That’s not a word. Check out this site for more information on a lot.

Teen boys should behave like eunuchs. Good teen boys do not notice breasts or if a girl is good looking. It is wrong to notice anyone’s looks, and everyone should walk around wearing a blindfold.

According to A, “He’s intensely homophobic and objectifies anything resembling the female sex into two categories: sexually appealing or ugly. As long as you’re hot, a woman’s faults are okay.”  Yep. I have created a monster. Scott Price notices when a woman is attractive. That makes him homophobic somehow, even though one of his best friends is gay. Interesting.

MisfitCoverI’m very thankful that A took the time to write the most scathing review of Misfit Academy to date. Clearly, I have learned A LOT about myself as a writer and a creator of schizophrenic, homophobic racist characters.  If you would like to read her entire review, it is located here. Here is a link to Misfit Academy’s Amazon page. If you have read it, please leave a review. I don’t mind constructive feedback. Just be sure to Google things like “Hollywood, FL” if you are accusing me of being geographically illiterate. Hugs all around.

Equations with the Stubbly Good Witch

“Think about what things mean.” This was my advice to my son as I drove him to his little slice of hell — school.  That particular day would be more hellish than usual as he had both his Geometry and Science final exams.   Like me, he would almost rather have a colonoscopy, including the dreaded prep, than be forced to learn math or science.  I felt for him, so I offered him the words of advice that got me through high school math.  Mr. Scott said them almost daily.  Whenever he would write a super long equation on the board and look out at sea of confused dog looks, he would simply say, “Think about what things mean.”  This simple philosophy has gotten me through a lot more than math.

 Mr. Scott was my favorite teacher even though he taught my most hated subject – math.  I had him for Algebra in ninth grade, and again for Integrated Math my senior year.  As a teacher, he was the perfect combination of firm, professional, and funny.  He knew his subject, but he didn’t just stand there and drone on and on about variables and the order of operations.  No.  He always kept our attention, even if he had to wear a dress.

 Yes, I said a dress.  No. Mr. Scott was not a drag queen, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  He was a Vietnam veteran with a permanent five o’clock shadow who usually dressed like a gas station attendant.  I’m serious.  He had a bunch of gas station attendant shirts with his name, Frank, on the front.  They were from all different stations.  I used to sit there and try to imagine where he got them.  He couldn’t have just ordered them on Amazon because it was 1987 and Amazon, or the Internet, or laptops, or iPhones, didn’t exist yet.  No.  He would have had to work at all of the gas stations to get a shirt. Either that, or he toured the country finding gas station attendants named Frank who needed some extra cash.  No matter how he got them, I wasn’t sure why he wore them.  Maybe it was to remind himself that no matter how horrible high school students were, teaching was still better than pumping gas.  (Young people, gas station attendants used to pump people’s gas for them.) Whatever the reason, he wore them almost daily, except, as I mentioned, when he wore dresses.

 One particular Halloween (See, I told you he wasn’t a drag queen.), I remember walking into his class on the second floor of the old 600 hall at South Broward High School, and almost walking right into his magic wand.  That’s right.  Mr. Scott, Frank from the Shell station, was dressed as Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  I couldn’t help but laugh all the way to my seat.  He just stood there and looked at me like, “What?”  I took my seat expecting an easy day of not really doing math.  I was wrong. 

 Mr. Scott began class by walking carefully across the classroom in his sparkly shoes and shiny dress, and pointing to the board with his wand.  He called on me, of course, and said, “Lisa, what is the quadratic formula?”  I looked at him like he was nuts, but he insisted that I say the formula out loud while he grabbed a piece of chalk with his wandless hand.  I’m happy to say that I got it ALMOST right.  I forgot to say “the opposite of” before I said “B.”  I’m sure at age 41 I still know MOST of the quadratic formula because of this experience. 

I never grew to love math, but I sure remembered it better after watching a man with a five o’clock shadow in a dress teach it.  Over the years, Mr. Scott donned many costumes, some of them dresses and some of them more masculine, like when he was Vince Fontaine in the school’s production of Grease.  No matter how he was dressed, he always took the time to slow down and show us HOW to think about what things mean.

 I kept that in my head during the SAT and I actually scored higher in Math than in English.  (Note: I ended up becoming an English professor.) I kept thinking about what things meant through college, marriage, caring for a baby, a divorce, a new marriage, moving across the country, and a host of other experiences.  Basically, whenever I was getting frustrated or taking things too seriously, I would stop and think about what things really meant.   Usually, they weren’t as bad, or as serious as I thought, once I really THOUGHT about them.  Sometimes, all I needed to do was put on a sparkly dress and laugh.  That always helps.  Thank you, Mr. Scott, wherever you are.