Top Ten Things Not To Do When Attending a Parent-Teacher Conference

Here is the 43rd installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.

a parent teacher conference

10.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not assume your child is never at fault.  If you do, at best, you might be disappointed. At worst, you may find yourself explaining certain behaviors that could only be learned at home.

9.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not try to explain away your child’s behavior with some made-up medical excuse.  If you do, at best, you might be questioned about your own veracity. At worst, you might be explaining to child welfare the fact a medical exam found no medical reason for the behaviors.

8.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not try to deny providing unusual help on the term project.  If you do, at best, you will look like someone who has problems with the truth. At worst, you could be accused of being a severely overprotective parent with recommendations for counseling.

7.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not try to ingratiate the teacher with abnormal compliments. If you do, at best, you will look like you have something to hide. At worst, the teacher will think you are shallow and assign the same trait to your child.

6.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not assume the teacher will be impressed with your professional or work title and your forceful personality. If you do, at best, you may be in for a rude awakening. At worst, the teacher will think you are a bully and report you to the principal.

5.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not do all the talking. If you do, at best you may miss some important information. At worst, the teacher will think you care more about yourself than your child and end the conference early with none of the issues resolved.

4.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not bring along friends or relatives as support. If you do, at best, the teacher will feel outnumbered and end the conference early. At worst, the teacher will bring in a number of witnesses and pretty soon the conference will take on the appearance of a trial with you as the defendant.

3.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not bring gifts. If you do, at best, the teacher will feel uncomfortable in giving you an honest evaluation of your child’s performance. At worst, the teacher will need to call the principal to witness turning down what they consider to be a bribe.

2.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not call the teacher by the first name. If you do, at best, the teacher will believe you are rude. At worst, the teacher will get the feeling you are unnecessarily challenging the professional relationship which will not play well for the rest of the semester for your child.

1.  When attending a parent-teacher conference, do not wear your most casual clothes. If you do, at best, the teacher will believe you are not serious about the conference. At worst, you may be unknowingly violating the school dress code and be asked to leave the building.

Beware of Bloglovin: Forcing Ads and Content Theft

Oh, my! This is a must-read for any of my blogging friends who are on Bloglovin’.

The First Gothic Novel

Many interesting facts in this post from Interesting Literature. The Gothic novel has long been a favorite with me. More surprising and interesting, however, is the idea that even in the 18th century, readers had a preference for a true story over a fictional one.

Interesting Literature

The early Gothic novelists are an interesting lot. Matthew Lewis, known for his 1796 novel The Monk, wrote his will on a servant’s hat while dying on board a ship from Jamaica to the UK. William Beckford wrote the bestselling Gothic novel Vathek in French in 1782, with the English version being translated by a vicar four years later. Beckford was tutored in music by none other than Mozart for a short while – a product of his vast family fortune (built on the proceeds from Jamaican sugar plantations), comprising some £114 million in today’s money as well as Fonthill (where Beckford had the famous abbey built).

But neither Beckford nor Lewis can claim the honour of writing the first Gothic novel. That accolade goes to a third man, Horace Walpole, who was the son of the first de facto Prime Minister of Britain, Robert Walpole. But the odd thing…

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Voices of Nature Blog Tour!

Stars Above (alouette)

Starry nights shine bright
Thousands of wee lights
Constellations light the sky
Darkness shows contrast
While clouds have gone past
Suspended in time up high

Pisces and Leo
Taurus and Virgo
Constellations light the sky
Libra, Pegasus
Worlds of tiny lights float by

©2014 Poetry by Pamela, all rights reserved.

This is just a sample of the poetry you will find in Voices of Nature. There are dozens more poems for you to savor.

You can buy it here for only $.99 for Kindle – it also available in paperback ($7.19) on Amazon.

Poetry gives voice to what the eyes see and the heart hears.

Inspiration exists all around us. Beauty can be found in the laughter of a child or the blooms of a tree. Poems are one person’s interpretation of the world seen through their eyes and felt in their heart. Poetry is soul food – plain and simple.

Voices of Nature is a collection of poems that reflect the inherent splendor of nature all around us. This book utilizes a variety of poetry forms to paint word pictures.

One review said “The sheer variety of styles in this poetry book is amazing. Haiku, triple haiku, acrostic, rondeau, and so many others. Even better is that they explain the poems in the back, which is a great service to the curious reader.

Each poem is clear and paints a perfect picture of nature. Though, I have an odd feeling that both poets were tired of winter since that had the most amount of poems out of the season sections. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I did love the ‘Thunder and Lightning’ acrostic for the imagery and ‘New Day’ for the complicated style and bringing an odd sense of serene closure to the book.

I would highly recommend this poetry book. Even if you’re not into poetry, the pieces for every season will probably have you going ‘I thought the same thing.’

Pamela previously released a collection of love poems titled Dreams of Love with several five star reviews. She has been writing for a short time, but pours her soul into her poetry.

Kirsten collaborated on a collection called Hope’s Flight.

This is a collection created by two poets – Pamela B and Kirsten A.
Both women enjoy exploring various topics and poetry forms. Many forms are represented in Voices of Nature (along with a short description of the forms for your convenience). Buy Voices of Nature for only $.99 today and experience the wonders all around us.

My Inner B*tch: For Some Writers, Success Is Not Enough

Sometimes I wait too long to write and then the thoughts, or the threads weaving together an essay, deteriorate from being left out in the rain.  Nothing I write comes out of whole cloth, and weaving is long, laborious, sometimes tedious work.  I know because for several years I literally wove cloth on a 36-inch 4-harness Harrisville loom.  I made a few things, but eventually I sold the loom to a friend and haven’t woven anything since.  Sometimes I feel that way about writing:  that I want to sell my tools to a friend and move on.  Writing is such hard work.  Which leads me to a bit of a diatribe.  Thus spake my inner bitch:

I envy writers like Jennifer Weiner who can “produce at a deadline pace.”

Jennifer Weiner

She has published, what, eleven books in 13 years?  And yet she roars with indignation at the publishing industry for being condescending toward female writers.  Ya think, Jennifer?  Please tell me what industry in this world is not condescending toward women.  Just where is it do women no longer struggle to be taken as seriously and treated as equally as men?  I came of age during the height of the women’s movement.  When I was 12, I was a radical feminist, reading about rape in marriage and desperate to break free from a world that thought I deserved no better than to live in a single-wide with crying children and a husband who drank and beat me.

Maybe that’s why women people like Weiner annoy me so much.  According to a New Yorker article (thanks, Kevin, for mentioning the article otherwise I never would have unearthed the issue from the stack of books and magazines next to my bed), her debut novel is in its 57th printing.  She has a writing “closet” that “may be bigger than some of the apartments occupied by struggling writers in Brooklyn.”  She has a summer home in Cape Cod.  She has a personal shopper, someone who reminds her to pack underwear.  She has been “outspoken about female writers whom she considers unsisterly.”  And that is where she totally loses me.  I may forgive her for wanting more when she already has more than many other writers (male as well as female) even dream of having.  But the infighting that she appears to relish seems to serve no purpose other than to advance her own agenda:  promotion of Jennifer Weiner.

I don’t begrudge Weiner’s writing style, her “commercial novels.”  As Rebecca Mead notes, however, “literary criticism, at its best, seeks to elucidate the complex, not to catalogue the familiar.”  That’s not to say that all commercial novels are unworthy of literary criticism.  The Chief Inspector Gamache series written by Louise Penny, in my humble opinion, is worthy of literary attention.

English: Louise Penny

English: Louise Penny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, there is a cataloguing of the familiar in her series.  They are police procedural novels and as such a particular pace and certain tropes are expected.  Plot presumedly drives the stories forward; yet, I keep reading Penny’s novels for the characters and the settings.  I read them because the people within her novels are complicated and their lives are complicated and the settings (modern Quebec, a quaint village, the near fatal freeze of winter, the life-draining heat of summer) intertwine with their lives to make things even more complicated.  I come away from these novels still feeling thoughtful, still pondering the fine line between love and hate, good and evil, the demons within and the demons without.  Because Penny’s novels are categorized as a particular genre (mystery, crime fiction, whatever), she may never get the accolades that Weiner claims is often denied writers who are female.

But I don’t hear Penny complaining.  In fact, if you friend her on Facebook (, you’ll find that Penny seems to be quite content with her writer’s life.  She is about as prolific as Weiner, having produced nine novels in as many years.  Her tenth is due out in August 2014.  But in contrast to Weiner, one gets the feeling Penny is still pinching herself to see if her success is just a dream. One gets the sense that she feels lucky, the kind of lucky that many artists describe as “being in the right place at the right time.”  Yes, I’m admiring Penny for her humility.  Perhaps I’ll be criticized for that.

Can I still consider myself a feminist if I choose not to take up arms like Jennifer Weiner and damn the literary critics for looking down their noses at commercial novels because you know they only do that if those novels are written by women?  No, wait, Stephen King has had the same complaint for years.

Stephen King

Cover of Stephen King

Maybe I just don’t get it.  Maybe I have a stronger class consciousness than a gender consciousness.  After all, I feel unequally uneasy at a women-only dinner party as I do at a fancy restaurant where I have to pretend I know which fork to use when.  I grew up among a lot of women.  Cousins, sisters, aunts, mother.  I’ve known from an early age that women aren’t always “sisterly” toward each other.  Before I learned to play the part of a middle-class female, I was often condescended to by other women.  I was consider stupid, slow because I was, in their presence, a fish out of water.

Eventually I married well, learned to appreciate fine wine, and appropriated the manners and preferences of my middle-class friends.  For a while anyway.  I’m still married well, but now I openly enjoy good cheap wine and most of those middle-class friends have moved on, no doubt because they found me to be a bore.  I feel no great loss there.  The complaint of wanting more, More, MORE from those who already have plenty bore me.

I’ll give this much to Jennifer Weiner.  At a book signing event, “[s]he took time to talk to everyone.”  She appreciates her readers.  She knows without them she would be nothing.  If she chooses to write for them and if they happen to prefer her stories to those by, say, Doris Lessing, then so be it.  More power to her.  I hope she continues to be successful and to make her readers happy.  I might hope she won’t consider this blog post “unsisterly” of me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’ve misplaced my inner Pollyanna.

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Still on Hiatus … Sort Of

Hello, everyone, and I hope you all  are well.  I’m still on vacation from my day job (yea!), but I’ve returned from my out-of-town trips and am slowly dipping my toes into the warm waters of the blogosphere.  My first order of business after publishing this post will be to respond to the many comments I’ve received as well as to catch up with as many blogs as I can.

I do want to tell you that we had a lot of fun on our trips.  First, we visited my mom and oldest sister in Saint Petersburg (FL) and took them on a day trip to visit with my aunt and her daughter.  For context, my mom is 90 and her sister is 89.  My aunt thinks the world of my husband for being willing to participate in these “old lady” meetups. My husband and I also did a few odd jobs for my mom which both surprised and delighted her, not an easy thing to do 🙂  The trip was fun but exhausting as we had to drive A LOT and Florida traffic is never any fun to drive in.

The 2nd trip was to a bed-and-breakfast cottage in Gainesville, home of my husband’s alma mater.  We ate too much but made up for that with a 30-mile bike ride on the Gainesville-Hawthorne bike trail.  For context, I hadn’t been on my Raleigh hybrid in a couple of years.  I thank my yoga practice for giving the strength and humility to get off and walk my bike when my thighs were about to burst into flames, rather than try to be the “superior woman” my husband thinks I am.  In spite of the pain I was left with for a couple of days, the ride was worth it.  The trail is beautiful, the temperatures were mild, and I got the pleasure of seeing this little critter:



Top Ten Things Not To Do When Signing Up With an Online Dating Service

Here is the 42nd installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.


10.  When signing up for an online dating service, do not use your old high school senior photo in your profile.  If you do, at best, your future dates might forgive you for being somewhat more overweight and wrinkled than your photo suggests.  At worst, you might get sued by future dates for emotional and psychological trauma especially those who thought they were going to date an 18 year old. (more…)

Off the Grid

Dear Reader, I will be away from my beloved blog for a few days, visiting family and having a bit of quality time with my husband.  I’ll be back before you know it.  In the meantime … thanks to a recent guest post on TwinDaddy’s Stuphblog by my favorite dilettante, Helena Hann-Basquiat, I’ve been reminded of my favorite Star Wars type movie.  I say “type” because I was never much of a Star Wars fan.  (Well, back in the day, I was very happy to plunk down a few dollars to watch a young Harrison Ford be sexy in a surly sort of way. Now, not so much.)  Anyhoo, for your viewing entertainment:


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#Search Engine Optimisation for #Indie Authors: How Far Should You Go?

A great post on SEO from Cate at CommuniCATE. If you don’t know what SEO is, read her post. If you do and think you should jump on the SEO bandwagon, read her post. Since I’ve read her post, I’ll just say I wish I did have an attic in which to write (at least, an attic not filled with fluffy insulation 🙂 )

A Remarkable Woman: A Superflux of Compassion and Amazing Guts!

Here is a remarkable story and another book to add to your TBR tower.

Good People Doing Great Things

kidney sellers cover

Some years ago bioethics professional Dr. Sigrid Fry-Revere had a harrowing experience with her six year old son. He developed kidney cancer. He might have very well needed a kidney transplant in the immediate future. And he might have died because he could not find a donor organ.

Believe it or not, there is a serious shortage of kidney and other organ donors in the US.

Fortunately her son is alive and well today, is now a hale and hearty 16 years-old, having survived this ordeal smashingly.

But this experience, the terror of it and the discovery of the drastic shortage of organ donors to meet a huge US need, people with failing organs of all kinds, seared and galvanized Sigrid Fry-Revere to research in incredible depth, not only the US organ donor system, but how other countries handle this need.

Profoundly surprising to her, she found that of all…

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