Putting Down the Pen?

I’ve wanted, for a while now, to be able to take a memory, something from my past, and write a deep, meaningful, reflective post about it.  Problem is, I can’t seem to come up with a memory that would allow me to write anything of significance.  I could talk about choices I made that, in retrospect, were probably wrong or I could talk about moments when I thought my heart was breaking, but again, in retrospect, it probably wasn’t, but I don’t think I’d get the reflective piece I was hoping for.  I should probably be thankful I’ve lived a fairly even-keeled life.  There have been no times of great tragedy, only disappointment and regret, but there have also been no times of tremendous joy, only fleeting happiness.  In the grand scheme of things, I should consider myself lucky.

I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing for a long time now- pretty much since I finished the second big edit of Twenty-Five.  Poetry, short stories, attempts at novels- nothing is working.  I have begun to wonder if I should put the pen down and forget about this whole writing thing.  Not that I want to, necessarily.

I’ve never been successful at anything I’ve attempted to do.  At least, I don’t feel like I have been.  Always good, never great.  Which makes me think I’m not choosing the right things.  Honestly, when I think about it, the only thing I ever really excelled at was school.  So, I’ve been thinking about going back to school.  I’ve wanted to get a graduate degree pretty much since I received my undergraduate one, but the timing has never been right or the money’s never been available.  I still don’t know if the timing is right and I know there isn’t money available, but if I keep waiting, I could be waiting forever, right?

I don’t know for sure yet what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, or even the next couple of years.  I wish I did.  I wish I knew if I had it in me to write another book.  I keep trying and failing.  And I hate failing.  I keep thinking one day I’ll have the time to devote to another story.  One day I’ll develop characters that really speak to me.  One day I’ll come up with a plot that is so freaking fantastic that it will basically write itself.  But how long can I wait for one day?

I feel lost and confused and really guilty that I haven’t had anything of quality to post on this blog in a very long time.

I Won A Writing Contest Once

when I was ten years old.  I was in the fifth grade and my AG teacher, Ms. Pyles, encouraged me to enter.  (AG stands for Academically Gifted.  Shortly after I left elementary school, they changed it to AIG, Academically and Intellectually Gifted.  I cannot attest to the truth or suitability of myself being labeled as AG, but I was tested in the third grade, and there you are.)  My best friend, Ashley, also entered and won.

I don’t have a lot of memories about the actual contest, I don’t know if other members of our AG class entered or if it was just Ashley and I and so we won by default, but I do remember Ms. Pyles inviting me to her house for tea so we could “edit” the story before it was bound into a little book.  My sister Theresa, such a great big sister, drew illustrations to go along with the story.

I’m very surprised I’ve never posted the story on this blog, because it really cracks me up, so I’m going to post it now!  I posted it on The Next Big Writer a long time ago and here are some of the remarks I got:

Well, Rachel, LOL! What a cute story for a ten year old to write. I can see how you won the contest, and I know you’re proud to look back at the little book and reminisce. While I was reading it I couldn’t help but think about that old song “Purple People Eater.”

Anyways, thanks for sharing this with us. It made me laugh!


Ooohhh, I have three brothers, does this martian have any friends? Especially for my older brother, I would love to control him for just about ten minutes MWaaaaaahhhaaaaaaahaaaaaa. Very cool story. I wrote a novel when I was 9 called the mystery of the doorknob. My older brother found it a little bit ago and had to point out all my faults. 😦 . Very well done, a neat little story.


LOL Rachel! THere’s still not a frickin nit in this blasted thing! And you were TEN! Oh man, you read my stuff when i was ten and you’d realize how incredibly talented you really were and still are! You’re right, your voice hasnt changed all that much, just you’ve gotten even better at storytelling.

I’d hate to be your little brother! LOL! 🙂


Rach, when you said ten, I couldn’t resist. That’s the age my students are! I love your story! It has a clear beginning, middle, and end, which is the hardest thing to get them to do. Most of the stories end with one sentence, like: And then they went home and everything was okay. 😦

I see some typical ten year old stuff, like what is it with ‘whispering excitedly’?? lol Everyone in a story by a ten year old girl whispers excitedly.

Darn good story, dear!

Does that make you want to read it??? Okay, here you go, my contest-winning short story: “The Summer Aliens Ate My Brother’s Brain”



Dedication: This book is dedicated to Theresa Hamm for illustrating my book and being a great big sister.

Hey!  My name is Rachel.  I have a brother named Danny and a sister named Amanda.  We live with Mom and Dad in Burlington, North Carolina.  My story begins on a windy July afternoon…

“Hey Danny!  Wanna play some football?  You can be the Buffalo Bills.  Please!!”  I shouted to Danny, who was in Amanda’s and my bedroom looking for something.

He came down slowly, looking smug.  “I’ll play if you let me read your journal.”

“No way!  I’ll get Manda to play with me.”  I went outside where the wind blew my hair back.

“Amanda! Where are you?” I shouted in the wind.

“I’m right here!” she yelled, jumping out of our treehouse.

“Wanna play some foo…”

“Dinnertime!” interrupted my mother.  We ran inside and ate dinner.  Then we went to bed.

* * * *

In the morning, I slipped quietly out of bed and tiptoed downstairs to Danny’s room.  The door creaked when I opened it, and I crept softly to his bed.  I slid my hand under the covers and tickled his feet.  He opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling.  He didn’t laugh or say anything.  I figured he was putting on an act.  Then I saw it!  A small green and purple polka-dotted, well, thing, climbing out of Danny’s ear.

He was shaped like a human.  He had arms and legs and hands and feet.  He was just as tall as my pinkie finger.  His ears were huge, as big as his face.  He looked a lot like Ross Perot.  He stared at me blankly.

“What are you?!” I asked.

“Huh-oh, Me?! I’m a Martian!  I now own your brother’s brain,” he said gleefully.

“You mean you invaded his brain?!  I can’t believe this.  Are you sure?” I asked in one breath.

“Yes, quite sure.”

I was speechless.  I didn’t know what to do.  Suddenly I grabbed the creature. “Fix my brother now or I’ll fix you!” I was angry.  With Danny’s brain being invaded, I couldn’t tease him any more.

“Rachel, are you in there?” Amanda asked slipping into the room.

I turned around. “Look at this!” I cried thrusting the Martian in front of her.

“Cool! What is it?” Amanda exlaimed.

“A Martian!  He invaded Danny’s brain!”

“Wow!  Let’s keep him.  It’s so cool that he actually invaded Danny’s brain,” Amanda whispered excitedly.

“You know, now that I think about it, it is cool.  Let’s keep him a secret,” I said, suddenly realizing this could be exciting.

“Hey! What’s going on here?” asked the Martian.  I’m not a toy, you know.  I don’t like this!”

“Don’t worry.  Everything will be fine, just fine.  You keep controlling his brain, and we’ll keep you safe!”

“OK,” the Martian answered warily.

We all went upstairs and got dressed.  I put the Martian in my jumper pocket.  Then we went downstairs to eat breakfast.

“Mornin’ girls!  Go wake up Danny for me, will ya?” sang my mother.

“Sure thing, Mom,” I replied.  Amanda and I dashed to Danny’s room.  We went in and I got the Martian out of my pocket.

“Tell Danny to get out of bed, get dressed, and eat breakfast!” I told the Martian.  He climbed in Danny’s ear and went to work.  Danny got out of bed, dressed, and went to the table.

“All right!” Amanda shrieked.  We ran out and had breakfast.

After breakfast, I had to do the dishes.  I didn’t feel like it, so I told the Martian to tell Danny, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”

“Right.” said the Martian.  He climbed in Danny’s ear and told him, “Clear the dishes off the table, rinse them in the sink, and put them in the washer.”

Danny went in to the kitchen and got to work.  I went upstairs where Amanda was waiting.  She had set up Monopoly, and we started playing.  Then, all of a sudden, I heard the washing machine running.  I flew down the stairs and raced to the kitchen.  Danny had put the dishes in the washing machine.

“Oh, no!  What did you do?!  Oh no!  This is my fault!  I gave the wrong directions!” I exclaimed.  I turned off the washer and looked in.

“Even worse!  The dishes are broken.  What now?!” I asked myself.  I took out the pieces, and tried to put them together.

“Oh, what’s the use?”  I threw down my hands and put the pieces in the garbage.  I was just about to slip out the back door so I could go and buy new dishes, when my mom came in.

“Where are you goin’?” she asked suspiciously.

“Just out for fresh air,” I replied.  I went out and ran across the lawn.  I walked timidly to the store to buy some new dishes.  I got them, and I was out of the store.  I ran as fast as I could home.  I ran inside and put the dishes away.

I decided that this Martian thing wasn’t going to work.  Sure, it was fun for a little while, but not any more.  I talked to Amanda about this, and she agreed. So I got the

Martian out of my pocket and said, “You need to stop controlling Danny, please.  This isn’t going to work.  Will you please go back to Mars, so that we won’t get in any trouble any more?”

“Yes, I’ll go home.  Besides, I was planning on it anyway,” he replied.

“Oh, good!  Thanks so much!” Amanda shrieked.  We said goodbye to him as we watched his spaceship float in the sky.

Everything at our house turned back to normal, and no one ever heard from the Martian again.

One Taste of Fame Just Wasn’t Enough

So I conquered radio a few weeks ago with my awesome stint on G105’s Bob and the Showgram.  I decided I wanted bigger and better.  Hence, my TV debut.

Check it out here:



Other than the fact that I look hideous, I think I sound and behave very professionally.  Wouldn’t you want me to be your wedding coordinator?