Blog Archives

Writing Teacher

Parents: English Teacher Writes Racy Novels | News | Snyder County News.

I have never read–nor do I ever plan to read–a novel written by Judy Mays.  Until I saw this article, I’d never even heard of her.  And now that I have…well, I am not sure what to think.

Here is the short version–a 10th grade English teacher in Pennsylvania has been supplementing her income by writing racy novels.  Parents (at least two) are upset by this.  They don’t think that a woman who can write like that should be teaching their children.

On the one hand, I think what she is writing is a waste of time.  And reading it is an even bigger waste of time.  At the same time, I am slightly envious of her.  I mean, she is not only writing novels she is publishing novels.  And the novels she is publishing are actually selling.  There are far too many authors out there still struggling to find a publisher for that first novel.  Though this style of writing is not what I want to do, I can’t really say anything other than, “Good for you!” to a woman who is making money at this craft.

What I am really outraged at, though, is not that Ms. Mays (or Mrs. Buranich as her students call her) is teaching a high school class while writing this kind of book on the side.  Rather, it is that she is being criticized for finding a way to supplement her teaching salary.  (And let’s not get started on the whole need for a teacher to supplement that salary!)  She isn’t doing anything illegal.  She is not involving the school in her decision to write and publish this kind of book.  In fact, I kind of respect that she uses a pen name.  She is trying to keep her two careers separate.   Some might say that is because she is ashamed of what she writes.  I have a feeling, though, that she made the choice to protect her school and her teaching career.

There has been some talk on Facebook today about whether she should keep her teaching job.  I say yes.  Who better than a published author to teach and English class?  She has to have a firm grasp of the English language and a knack for stringing words together to have been able to land a publishing contract.  That should be seen as an asset in the classroom.

Now, if she is using her books in the classroom, then there is a problem.  I can’t imagine that she would be.  If so, her “secret life” would have been discovered long before now.

One thing is pretty certain–she is being talked about now.  And even I know that is the best way to get your books known!


Why God Matters

In June 2010, I had the pleasure of reviewing a book written by a father-daughter team of authors.  The book, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life, was probably not something that I would have picked off a shelf to read.  However, it is one that I am glad I read.  Though this book was written by two Catholics, it is a good book for any Christian to read.  It is a great guide of how to see God in the small moments of life.  You can read my review of the book here.

Recently, I received the following note from one of the authors, Karina Fabian.  I’m so excited to hear about the award this amazing little book received.  Hope you are too!

Dear Friends,

We just found out that Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life won the Christian Small Publisher Association Book of the Year under the Christian Living category. We’re very excited that our little devotional is touching lives so well that people cared enough to take time to vote for us.  However, since this is a popular award, it depends as much on publicity as quality of the book—and that came from your efforts!

My dad, Deacon Steve, and I wanted to thank you for hosting us on tours, reviewing the book, and letting folks know about Why God Matters.  We would not have won this award without your help.

I’ve attached the press release along with the award icon and book cover in case you want to share the news.  Regardless, you have already done so much for us, and we are very grateful.  May God bless you and yours in the big things and in the everyday.



Karina Fabian

Karina and Deacon Steve, I am so happy for your success.  I pray that God continues to bless you as you follow the path he has laid out for your lives.

You Wouldn’t Cry




God has done it again!  He has this way of knowing what my heart needs to hear and when my heart needs is!

I’ve been considering submitting an essay about my miscarriage to a publisher who is working on a devotional book for dealing with miscarriage and infertility.  I just haven’t been able to sit down and write it yet.  It’s been six years, but I still carry so much pain and hurt and anger about that.  No matter how I try to let it go, it still seems to be there.

Right now I am reading a book by Mandisa called IDOLEYES: My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame.  I decided to read the book because she is so upfront about her struggles with food addiction.  It’s nice to see someone my age going through the same thing I am and to be able to learn from her.  Because of that book, I’ve been listening to her music on YouTube.  When I came across this song, I couldn’t stop the tears.  I felt like my little girl was talking to me through these lyrics.

God knew that I needed to hear this.  He knew that I needed to hear from Rylee in order for me to be able to write this essay.  And He used this beautiful song to allow her to speak to me.

F.M. Meredith’s ANGEL LOST

Synopsis of ANGEL LOST


ANGEL LOST by F. M. Meredith

As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?


Biography of F.M. Meredith

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the

Author F.M. Meredith

Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and her blog at




Angel Lost Missed the Mark

Police Interceptor of the Los Angeles Police D...

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Angel Lost is the story of the police department of Rocky Bluff, California. The story focuses on Detective Doug Milligan and his fiancée Officer Stacey Wilbur and takes place in the weeks leading up to their wedding. They are by far the only members of the police department who have interesting happenings in their lives. The troubles range from facing a long-term illness of a mother to dealing with the aftermath of shooting a young suspect to tracking an exhibitionist appearing on the beach.

The author of this book, F. M. Meredith, shows thorough knowledge of what can happen between members of a police department. Her characters are very well connected to one another.

The problem with the book , at least for me, is that there are just too many characters involved in this book. It was not easy to keep them all straight. Some of the subplots didn’t seem to flow well, didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story. Perhaps if these subplots had been more well-developed, the story would have been easier to follow.

There are other places in the book—two in particular—where the storyline seemed to be dropped too soon. They left far too many questions in the mind of the reader. One involves the exhibitionist on the beach—when he is finally found, comments about his past are made and then he is forgotten. In another section, a crime that is very important to the rest of the story just falls flat. The possibility that this criminal could have been connected to other similar crime is mentioned, but never really explored. The identity of the criminal isn’t even revealed.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think the title of a book should have something to do with the story. I still am not sure what Angel Lost has to do with the story. I suppose it could have to do with a kidnapping that occurs in the book or to an angel that appears in the lit window of a furniture store. It’s just something that didn’t make much sense to me.

Though this was not one of my favorite books to read, it did have potential. If the subplots had been developed more, it would have been easier to keep track of the characters and to care about what was happening with them.

Second Chances

Everyone needs a second chance at some point in his or her life.  Sometimes it happens as an adult, as a result of a bad decision.  All too often, though, it happens as a young child through no fault of the child.  And it happens to dogs, too. 

Second chances are needed by everyone.

Purchase SECOND CHANCE here

Sandra J. Gerencher explores this idea in her book Second chances: How Adoption Saved A Boy with Autism and His Shelter Dog.  As the title implies, this book is the story of what adoption means to one small family.  This family is Mom, Ryan, and three dogs—PJ, Shelby, and Little Rascal.  In the opening pages, the family adds Chance, a shelter dog, to their “pack.”  As he sees the unconditional love Ryan has for him, Chance learns what adoption is.

This book is interesting in that it is told from the perspective of Chance the Dog.  Ryan’s autism comes into play through his conversations with Chance—it is hinted at that Ryan rarely communicates vocally with people, yet he is able to communicate with Chance.  Ryan teaches Chance that it doesn’t matter that he was unloved before, he is special to someone.

While I liked the message of this book—that everyone, no matter what the circumstance of their early life, is special—I found that I was really confused by the book.  I looked at this as a book for elementary age children, but it seemed to be written for an older audience.  I tried reading it to my 3-year-old and 7-year-old sons and they were both very bored with it.  My 9-year-old, who doesn’t like me to read to him anymore, read the book himself.  He said he liked the pictures in it, but had a hard time following the story.  The book is nicely written; I am just not sure that it hits the intended target audience.


PBS Kids Recommended title

Book web site:

Sandra J. Gerencher Facebook:

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook: Archbald-PA/Tribute-Books/ 171628704176

Tribute Books Twitter: TributeBooks

Sandra J. Gerencher is a special education teacher in the Bangor Area public school system. Prior to becoming a teacher, she worked at Lehigh University in a school-based program, as a Program Specialist for adults with disabilities. Over the past 20 years she has worked with children and adults with special needs in such areas as counseling, Behavior Specialist Consultation, behavioral research, crisis intervention and abuse therapy. Sandra graduated from Lehigh University with a M.Ed. in Special Education (2004) and from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia with an M.S. in Counseling Psychology (1999).

Sandra J. Gerencher and her son Terry

Sandra J. Gerencher Bio:

Book Videos – The Writings of Robert G. Pielke

Book Videos – The Writings of Robert G. Pielke.

I just finished reading NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM: THE VISITOR by Robert G. Pielks and all I can say is WOW!  In all honesty, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read this book.  I agreed to only because a friend asked me to review it.  I couldn’t put it down!

My review will be up in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, take a look at the trailers for is on this website.  If you are a history buff or a sci-fi freak, you will love this book.

Book Inspiration

While my waiting for my computer to be repaired, I have been thinking A LOT about my writing career.  What can I do to really build my career?  The simple answer there is “WRITE”.  It’s just figuring out what to write that is giving me problems.  I have ideas, but I don’t know if those ideas are really worth much.

I turned to my bookshelf for some ideas.  There I found two books that I think might be helpful.  Of course, I’ve had that thought before.  I must have; if I didn’t think these books would be helpful, I never would have purchased them in the first place.  One book is Writing From Personal Experience: How to Turn Your Life into Salable Prose.  Sounds promising.  It does raise a question in my mind, though.  Is my life really interesting enough to write about?  I don’t know.  But I suppose that following the directions and completing the exercises in that book is one way to find out.

The other book I found is called The Write-Brain Workbook.  That one is full of daily exercises designed to get creativity flowing.  I have turned to it in the past when I needed some inspiration or needed a way to unblock my writer’s block.  I really hope that working through both of this books will keep me motivated to write.

And if it helps me to sell some writing this year, that is even better!

And of course, I hope it will give you, my dear reader, something fun to read each day.

Newberry Classics

I spent some time cleaning out my files today.  Figured I would start 2011 with at least a little more organization.  (Hmm…  Thinking right now that I should talk to my older sister.  Now THAT is one organized lady!)  Now, I am not  insane enough to think that I will remain organized all year long.  That would take a miracle, and I think God has more important miracles to dole out.

Still, starting off a new year just a little more organized can’t be a bad thing.

I found some interesting things in my files.  Actually, I am glad that I did.  It would be somewhat depressing to know that I had collected all of those printed sheets of paper only to find that none of them are at all interesting.  Among the more interesting finds were two stapled lists of books.  One is a list of Newbery Medal winners; the other is a list of recommended reading for high schoolers.  With all of the reading that I do, I have read precious few books on these lists.  That is something that I hope to change this year. 

The boys asked if we can go to the library while they are on Christmas break.  So I am thinking that we will go tomorrow.  I asked them to look at the Newbery list to pick out a book to read.  Not sure they will really do that, though.  I was in fifth grade—one year older than my oldest son—when my      encouraged (or when it is a teacher, is the proper term ‘forced’?) us to read books from her Newbery Medal winner list.  As much as I would like to see the boys choosing something more substantial to read than Captain Underpants, I suppose I don’t need to force them just yet.  Not that I am saying it will never happen!

As for me, I plan to take out one Newbery book and one of the recommended for high school students books.  At the moment I don’t have anything on my calendar to review.  So it would be a very good time to read some classics.

 Hmm….  In twenty years or so, do you think a Lynn McMonigal novel might be considered a classic??

Christmas Twist

The night in history that fascinates me more than any other is the night when Jesus was born.  While the Bible tells us certain things–that the birth happened in Bethlehem, in a stable, that three kings from the east followed a star to that stable and that the birth was announced to shepherds by a group of angels–but there is so much we don’t know.  There are so many places where we can use our imaginations to fill in the blanks.  Cheryl G. Malandrinos gives her take on what might have happened that night in her book Little Shepherd.

This book follows Obed, a young shepherd barely five years old, from the hills where the angels appeared to the Bethlehem stable and back to his sheep.  Obed doesn’t quite understand everything that happens that night.  He is especially confused about why the shepherds are more concerned with seeing the baby the angels spoke of than protecting their sheep.

I really enjoyed this book.  Malandrinos did a wonderful job of capturing both the confusion and the wonder that Obed experienced that night.  I could easily picture the wonder in his eyes by thinking of one of my sons in his position.

As I write this review, my sons are fighting over the book.  The toddler loves the colorful illustrations.  The nine-year-old and seven-year-old are arguing about who gets to read it first.  Any book that captures the interest of all three of my sons has definitely earned its place on my bookshelf.

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.   


Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.


You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at