A Blog By Jessica Lynne Gardner

A Blog by Jessica Lynne Gardner: It's terrifying and, at times, adorable.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Read Us or Die!"

The world is ending!!!! Aaahhh! Ok, it isn't, but I did have a nightmare about the world blowing up last night. In order to save the planet, I had to hunt down an antique clock and turn the hands back to three hours prior. Anyhow, I digress.

But I do have new short stories published after what felt like an eternity of a dry-spell. "Truth" and "Code-Red" are two of my newest pieces and will be included in the wonderfully twisted anthology "Read Us or Die!," which was put together by none other than the visionary Jason Gehlert! Black Bed Sheets Books' Nicholas Grabowsky is the proud publisher of this beautiful literary beast and the authors are not only some of the most talented but the hottest around (see what I did there?). Here is a link to the titillating forward and the cover to whet your appetite until the release!


Aaaand, for even more fun, here is an excerpt of one of my stories:


Friday, July 5, 2013

Harvest musings

Death has been on my brain more than usual and as the month of harvest draws nearer, I find myself preparing for many culminations. The end of August traditionally signals endings, but endings can often be considered beginnings. Personally, it will be the end of my treasured free time that began in May (it actually began last week as two of my three on-line classes ended), the start of an increased work-load as kids flock to retail stores to prepare for school, my vacation to Salem, MA (I can't even begin to describe the pumpkins dancing in my head as I count down the days for this mini-vacation), and lastly, a very different back-to-school experience for me. This Fall, I will begin my internship and study under a mentor teacher in some (as of yet) unnamed High school. I will no longer be able to wear my torn jeans, brightly dyed hair, and skull accessories. Instead, I must transform my outer shell into something more refined. It's true that I've had to do this often enough in the past; Holidays, special events, and retail work have filled my closet with dress-clothes, but there was always those days when I was able to get away with flip flops or spaghetti straps. From this semester on, I will be watched. Professors will be keeping close tabs on my performance as well as the entire staff and student body of the high school I will be reporting to. Besides my wardrobe, I am not allowed to carry mace for my own protection (something I've been doing for years now).

While these aren't major transitions by themselves, it was a stark reminder that I am (finally!) entering the career world. I've followed my life-path to the place that I feel I can make the most difference and now must be prepared to deal with the realities and sacrifices this entails. Teaching is not a glorious profession but it is one that I've always respected. Many of my teachers in the past have complained about the pay, the environment, the staff, etc, but most of them were willing to talk to me whenever I needed them or confronted me after too many missing homework assignments.
Teachers are role models because students are told to look up to them. They stand in front of a class full of cranky children or teenagers day-after-day, and put themselves up for display and sometimes, annihilation. High school kids can be cruel and criticizing, tearing a teacher apart, or they can be diligent and inspire hope. Though sometimes difficult, it is here, in their teenage years, that students need the most patience. As someone who has had a few crashes along life's landing strip, I can say that patience wasn't completely inherent in me but developed over time.

My goal to be high school teacher isn't solely unselfish. Helping people does give a kind of satisfaction. But another reason I want to teach is the access to knowledge. I've always loved learning something new and sharing it with my friends, my family...the cat...whoever would listen. Learning something intriguing (Literature and mythology are two of the subjects that stimulated my imagination while growing up but art, history and science-fiction brought this excitement out of me also), being filled with exuberance, and then passing that same contagious fire on to someone else made me feel connected to world in a very unique way. I was a guide of sorts.
A few people in my life told me that I would make  great teacher but I laughed at them then. Teaching was the last thing I saw myself doing. I wanted to do something more hands-on and better paying: Veterinary technology.  

Besides this heavy philosophical metamorphosis, I also landed three new short story publications, one of which is slated for August. Along with the changing of my intellectual outlook on life, I've put more energy into my writing this Summer and have noticed intriguing changes. This break has given me a few extra moments at the end of each day (you know, instead of collapsing into my bed as I usually do after an eight hour shift and two to four classes + homework) to mentally catch up with how much I've changed in the last few years and somehow, it always surprises me when I've passed the half-way mark. With these new musings, I decided to tidy up my website. I've made some of the syntax sharper, cleared out the spam-bot nest in my guestbook, and updated some things. If you're feeling bored, take a gander and drop me a (non-spam bot) comment in my guest book. More updates about my publications soon!       

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Time, Writing, and Two New Short Stories

I recently noticed a strange phenomenon on Facebook which slowed my crazy life to halt for a few moments, forcing me to ponder it. There are memes, a variety of pictures and cute sayings that writers themselves are posting, which are prompting writers to, well, write. Some are gentle reminders, quotes even, that coax and motivate the way of the writer. One says "Keep Calm and Write On." Another is a stick figure pointing a gun at another stick figure seated at a keyboard. There is humor in this, sure, but there is also a sadness. Shouldn't writers long to be writing? Shouldn't they count down the hours until they arrive home from work or school and then finish dinner or chores so they can relax into their element and type away?

I suppose that I am somewhat biased in this because as a full-time student and member of the working retail community, I'm lucky if have time to write a few pages that aren't about theory or curricula over a four month semester. I hear the siren song in my blood to write. The ideas bubble up while I'm in class or in the subconscious of my mind while asleep. Friends and family ask if I've been writing and I look at them tiredly and say, "If only I had the time." They laugh and reply, "Of course there's time. Anyone can make time if they want to." This is true. I could stay up extra late (that means later than it took me to write my five page reflection for homework after being on campus for twelve hours) and then show up to another class the next morning (or work depending on which day of the week it is) looking like I had partied hardy at a rave all night. Trust me, it's very hard to concentrate on a monotone lecture without the extra obstacle of sleep deprivation.

Don't get me wrong--- I'm not condemning those who have a lighter workload. I didn't always feel so motivated. Even though fairly prolific when I was younger, I remember days when lazily hung out with friends or watched TV when I wasn't working. Days when I wanted to lounge around rather than writing. This was before my years at Towson University. There were times when I had to force myself to write but was glad of it later. For those who have a full time job with odd mixed hours or have a family, I sympathize. It's hard to have a full plate of responsibility and be a creative person. Creation takes energy and tireless nurturing, something that is hard to do when balancing papers, long hours and or taking care of elderly family members or children. But even then, there is time. We can find that time and cherish it. In some ways, it is better to have the experience of being torn from doing what you love for a time. It hones and shapes your longing so that when you return, when you find those unexpected moments to release that overwhelming urge to write, paint, sculpt, dance---whatever your passion is, then the spectacular font of imagination bursts forth from the dam and drowns out everything else.

I know for a fact that though I have only written three pieces over the last four months, those pieces are better than what I had written before them. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, true, but experience also shapes the writer. And with stories brewing in my brain, the steeping brought out all of the sweetness and bitterness that would have been lost with a fresher cup. Writing helps me make sense of where I've been and where I'm going. For me, its not about putting writing into my life but about putting life into my writing.

So for those that are stressing themselves to write-write-write and hitting a wall, perhaps take a break. Turn off your Facebook, your phone. Go a few days, a few weeks, without writing and then see if you aren't the one attacking your muse rather than expecting your muse to attack you.   
Thanks Mom, for pushing me to write this post. Blogs are shorter but no less meaningful than novels. Though I don't always have time to write more than a few pages, there are some lucky days when I do have twenty minutes to write something. And so I did.

News about my latest publications coming soon. For now I'll say that two short stories, "Truth" and "Code Red" will be coming to a special anthology by Black Bed Sheet Books.