Cold Coffee and Speed Limits: Encouragement for Mamas of Teens available for pre-order for .99 cents!

Cold Coffee

Why is it that there are thousands of books/blogs about raising babies, toddlers, and even school-aged kids, but when we our kids become teens–poof! Sure, there are plenty of scary clinical approaches out there, but this book isn’t one of them. I’ve been a mama of teenagers for a while now, and though I’m no expert, I’m here for you. Besides stories from the trenches, I’ve included teen-pleasing recipes, tips on time management and other issues important to us mamas.

Besides being a mama of three, I’m a writer, an experimental cook, and an English professor. I live in Texas (the land of Old Yeller) and I survive on large amounts of coffee and ungodly amounts of sugar. It’s really not healthy.

If you want a clinical approach, a hands-free parenting guide–keep looking. But if you want an honest guide to the joys and heartbreak of raising teens…well, you may have found it.

For a limited time, you can pre-order this book for .99 cents! It will be available on Kindle only Sept. 25, 2015.

Cold Coffee and Speed Limits: Encouragement for Mamas of Teens Pre-Order

Teacher Tips: 5 Steps To Sending an Email to Your Teacher


Example of a terrible email: 

hey i was absent last week and i dont understand the work i need ur help 

–anonymous student, writing from his account 

Do you need to send an email to a professor or teacher? STOP! Read this helpful guide first.This blog post is dedicated to all my instructors I may/may not have sent horrible emails as a student.

1. Don’t skip the greeting. Even though you are in a hurry, take the time to say hello before making a request or asking a question. Dear Professor, Professor Jones, etc. are acceptable greetings. By taking a moment to address your teacher, you are establishing the culture of respect between you.

2. After a polite greeting, take one sentence to wish your teacher well. Something like, “I hope you are having a good day so far,” or “I hope your week is going well” goes a long way in establishing goodwill on your end. You’re not just jumping in with what you need. Teachers get dozens of emails a day, and almost everyone needs something. It will be worth your while to demonstrate to your teacher that you regard him/her as an actual human being with feelings.

3. Politely state your question/request. Here are two examples of the same question.

A) This homework is crazy! Do you think we are graduate students or something? I can’t do this assignment!!!!!!

B) If it’s not too much trouble, may I see you after class to get some clarification on the homework assignment? I’m struggling quite a bit and want to do well.

Same question, different effect.

4. Don’t end your email without using some kind of “complimentary close.” This means to add a “Sincerely,” or “Many Thanks” etc. before you sign your name. Under no circumstances should you not sign the email (that’s just lazy).

5. Don’t forget to use proper grammar and spelling. An email is not a text, and your professor is not your bestie. Keep it formal, and don’t use “text speak” ( i cu). That’s unprofessional and discourteous.

Last but not least, don’t forget to say “Thank you” to your teacher. She’s probably reading your email at 11:00 p.m. before she falls asleep. After all, she’s a person too.

On the Middle Child and Asserting Your Voice


Dear Sarah,

23 years ago, I woke up to a startling popping noise, similar to the sound a bottle of champagne makes. It wasn’t champagne. It was the beginning of your journey into this world to meet me. I know there were (and are still) others you would meet, but I like to think this first time was meant for me alone.

coronado bridge

I’ve told the story many times before: the long ride across the Coronado Bridge in the pre-dawn hours, the lights twinkling across the bay as my contractions grew stronger and closer together. Dad was flying from Bremerton where his ship, The Long Beach, was being dry docked for repair. We hoped and prayed he would make it in time, but he was just a few hours shy.

The nervousness of the taxi driver who didn’t speak English and seemed very concerned I might soil his cab with my impending birth. How I labored for several hours alone, waiting for your Nannie and Papa to drive up from Indio to be with me. The doctor and nurses placing bets about how big you were gonna be (they were all wrong…and so inappropriate!). How beautiful you were when I held you in my arms, all 22 inches of you. You were and are still a gorgeous girl–the kind of baby that made people stop and notice, involuntairly saying “Awwww” when they saw that unbeatable combination of eyes and lips and now, the long raven hair that you could have only gotten from your daddy’s Italian side.

Not surprisingly, your sister was a bit jealous. She tried to keep you out of Nannie’s room so you wouldn’t get any of the snuggles. She wondered out loud when you were going back to the hospital. In short, she was not impressed.

But you found your voice pretty quickly. You learned to stick up for yourself, to declare your opinion–sometimes to demand your own way. When you were four and Jody asked what you wanted Santa to bring you for Christmas, you summarily told her to “Grow up.” When I tried to replace your worn out Simba that you carried everywhere by its neck (because that’s how Simba’s mother would have carried him!), I “washed” him and came back with a new, less ratty version. You looked me straight in the eye and said, “This one looks … new. I want my old one.” You ended up getting two. It wasn’t too long before the second one looked as decrepit as the original.

I know you sometimes make jokes about being the ignored middle child but you know we couldn’t overlook you if we wanted to. Your beauty, talent, brains, wit and hilarity brighten up our daily lives and I don’t know what we would do without you.

And I think your sister may have finally gotten used to your being around. Just a hunch.

Happy Birthday, Sarah. I love you so much.

One more time, Sarah–here’s the song I was thinking of while taking that long drive across the Coronado bridge, knowing my life was about to forever change.

I’m so very lucky.

Get Here if You Can

How to Write a Believable Southern Character

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Overheard at the DMV


Please enjoy this blog post on the continuing adventures of Mancub.

Overheard at the DMV

Spanish Rice Stuffed Peppers:

bell peppers


5-6 large bell peppers, different colors
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, minced.
1 cup white rice, uncooked
1 can rotel
2 cups beef broth
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 tsp. cumin, salt and pepper as desired

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Rinse and devein peppers. Sautee onion and bell pepper with the ground chicken. Season as desired. Prepare rice as directed, using beef broth instead of water. When rice is finished, mix in with the ground beef, the can of rotel, and add cheese. Stuff into peppers and top with more cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until peppers are soft.

Tips From Your Professor: 5 Behaviors of Successful Students


Whether you’re just beginning college or going back to earn an advanced degree, most people begin with the best of intentions. Who wants to drop a ton of cash just to fail? Nobody! Bad behaviors can sneak up on you, and before you know it, you’re on the way to a failing grade. If you want to be successful in college, here are 5 habits successful students know.

1. Good students are on time and don’t miss class! This is so important. They know that strolling in even a few minutes late will cause them to not only miss valuable instruction, but they might also miss deadlines. Good students understand that being late and missing class convey one thing to the class and the instructor: you just don’t care. Students who commit to attending and being on time do better than students who don’t…it’s just a fact.

2. Successful students are attentive and engaged. They know it’s not enough to simply show up. It might have been enough in high school, but college classes are more challenging and require participation. Engaged students remember more content than students who simply warm seats.

3. Good students stop by the professor’s office even if they’re not having trouble. They know making an effort to meet their professor can go a long way to making a smooth semester. Good scholars make a favorable impression on their professor early in the semester, knowing she might be willing to help them out later in the semester when they are struggling. She might even write a letter of recommendation for you later. They know college isn’t just about getting grades. It’s about making connections for the rest of your life.

4. Successful students complete their assignments on time. Many capable, intelligent students don’t get the A’s they deserve because they struggle with this one issue. They always expect the unexpected (the printer WILL jam at the last second, they WILL run out of paper, the library WILL be closed, there WILL be a tornado) and they give themselves plenty of time.

5. Good students talk to their fellow classmates. They know it doesn’t pay to be a loner. They exchange contact information. They form study groups. They know the more social they are, the easier the class will be. In the short hours right before the big test, they’ll have someone to send panicked texts to.

So show up, be on time, be engaged, be polite and communicate! These steps will go a long way to helping you have a successful career as a student and beyond.

Seeking Submissions: Sweet Tea and Southern Sunrises: 100 Stories of Strength and Inspiration


Seeking Submissions: Sweet Tea and Southern Sunrises: 100 Stories of Strength and Inspiration from Southern Women (tentative title)

Are you a Southern woman who has a great story? Are you tired of the way media portrays us? Do you have a story that will inspire others? I’m looking for your true story that emphasizes the good qualities of Southern women—our strength, our resilience, even our stubbornness. I will also consider poetry about Southern women or living in the South.

Stories must be between 500-1200 words. If your story is chosen, you will keep the rights to it. Although you won’t be paid, you will be published in an ebook that I will edit and put together. Your name will be listed among contributors. If there is enough interest, the book might be published in a more traditional manner.

Here are some possible ideas to get you going, but are in no way meant to limit your creative energy!
1. Growing up in the South: the good and bad
2. Facing or encountering stereotypes (either as a woman or as a Southerner)
3. Encountering/conquering racism
4. Breaking cycles of poverty/being the first in your family to get a degree
5. What your mother taught you
6. What you want to teach your daughter
7. Southern ingenuity—making the best of a bad situation or coming up with unique solutions
Email your submissions to