EXCLUSIVE #Cover-reveal and #pre-launch Guest Blog post by Olga Núñez Miret

EXCLUSIVE #Cover-reveal and #pre-launch Guest Blog post by Olga Núñez Miret

Thanks so much, Sally, for having me as a guest in your blog. I remember with some trepidation when you interviewed me for your series, CHANGES (it was my first time being interviewed via Google Hangout On Air [HOA; see below for more info]), and how enjoyable the experience was. Now, I’m very pleased to take part in your CHANGES Guests’ Guest Blogger series.

Author Olga Núñez Miret

Author Olga Núñez Miret

When we discussed the post, although I wanted to talk about my new series, I wasn’t sure when my next book would be published.

I have been working on a Young Adult/New Adult series on-and-off for the last 3 years. It centers on a girl called Pink (well, Petra, but she doesn’t like her name), and two of her friends, and their adventures in high school. It has paranormal elements to it (angels, demons, bizarre prophecies…).

I wrote the first story in the series, Angelic Business 1, Pink Matters, before I started publishing my books. I left it simmering in the back of my mind. Then, about a year ago, I wrote the second book, Shades of Greg (don’t worry, nothing to do with the other Shades; it’s sort of the name of one of the characters.… Let’s say names aren’t his strong point).

After giving it some thought, I decided I would write the third book when I could. I kept in mind publishing them fairly quickly, one after the other, so people wouldn’t have to wait a long time to get the whole story.

When a writer friend, Teagan Geneviene, suggested I could be her writing buddy for NaNoWriMo last year, I thought it was the perfect chance to write the last novel in the trilogy: Pink, Angel or Demon? was born.

As I always publish my books both in Spanish and English, then came the tasks of translating, correcting, editing. Although translating works very well as a way of revising the original (as I have to read in great detail, I tend to spot inconsistencies, errors, names and locations changes and those kinds of things), it also takes a fair amount of time. I ended up with 6 books needing some tender, loving care and a lot of attention. Well, that’s my excuse for not having published them, yet.

But, things are moving along.

After much discussion and different ideas and suggestions from blogger friends, readers, and everybody I met (including making the decision to take pictures of all the angels I saw, anywhere I went), and after hard work from my friend Lourdes Vidal, whose mastery of Photoshop has always astonished me, we have the covers.

And as you’d given me this great opportunity, I thought I’d share the cover of the first novel with you all. This is a world exclusive!

 

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters. By Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Lourdes Vidal

Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters. By Olga Núñez Miret. Cover by Lourdes Vidal

Although this might change, this is the blurb of the story (so far):

PINK MATTERS is the story of Pink, a 17-year-old girl, good student, articulate and smart. What she has never been is the center of attention; she has also never made it to the top ten of the most popular and attractive girls at school. When two guys, both claiming to be angels, insist that she is, indeed, “special,” both fighting for her attention, helping and telling her that she is the “key to the future of the universe,” she can’t help but ask: “Why me?”

I have shared the beginning of the book in my own blog, but I’ll let YOU ALL come and visit, if you fancy reading more or about a variety of things (including reviews, guest authors, audiobooks, classics).

Thanks very much, Sally, for this opportunity and for bringing me to meet all your readers. Thanks to all of you for reading and good luck to all your guests.

 

Links:

My website is: http://www.OlgaNM.com

My Amazon author page is: http://www.amazon.com/Olga-Núñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0

I have a Twitter account: @OlgaNM7 https://twitter.com/OlgaNM7

My blog is: www.OlgaNM.wordpress.com

I also have a Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/OlgaNunezMiret

My Goodreads author page is: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret

Google+https://plus.google.com/u/0/118443714277719085351

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/olganm7/

Wattpad: http://wattpad.com/OlgaNM

Tumblr: http://OlgaNMwriter.tumblr.com

Booklikes: http://olganm9.booklikes.com/

Riffle: https://read.rifflebooks.com/profiles/151299


Dr. Olga Nuñez Miret, M.D., Ph.D. was my guest on Episode 13 of CHANGES conversations between authors.

Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts, read my guidelines and then contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

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Latest #Author #Interview with Sally Ember, Ed.D., on Connie Dunn’s page, goes live TODAY!

Thanks for a fun and great #interview, Connie, conducted/recorded on September 4, 2014, despite numerous technical difficulties!

My interview goes live TODAY, September 29, 2014. We talked about #writing, #science-fiction, The Spanners Series and its #aliens, the Series’ #cover art and Aidana Willowraven as the cover artist,

logoAuthorsDen

my #utopian views, writing in the present tense to emphasize the #multiverse/#paranormal/#psi elements, #science/#research, book #reviews, “crowd creating” and other #collaborations, ghost writing, #series writing, writing across #genres and for multiple audiences/age groups, inspiration/creativity, my writing history (from age 9 on), #editing, #indie publishing and much more.

http://publishwithconnie.com/mondaymorning is the link to Connie’s website. Please visit, look at her books and what she offers to authors!

From there, you can go listen to my interview: http://publishwithconnie.com/teleseminar-dashboard/sally-ember/

Guest Post: “The Politics of Speculative/ Science-Fiction”

Research, quotes, opinions, infographics, questions for readers/authors, and more. Read my Guest Post on Heather Jacobs’ site: “The Politics of Speculative/Science-Fiction”

Here are the first two paragraphs, to warm you up and inspire you to go read the rest:

The Politics of Speculative/Science-Fiction

by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

No author can leave politics, religion or culture out of our writing. It’s not possible. We are gendered, classed, raced/heritaged, abled/differently-abled, language-based, value-laden, belief-ridden individuals. We are products of our culture and political systems, even if we resist the indoctrination.

A writer may not realize the impact of his/her experiences arising from culture but these permeate every idea, word, sentence. The author who builds worlds may not see the veiled political structure undergirding their dystopian or utopian societies. Nevertheless, Speculative-Fiction, of which Science-Fiction is a subgenre, arises from politics, religion and culture.

Spec Fic and subgenres

Visit, comment, share, follow! Thanks!

http://www.hmjacobs.com/blog/guest-post-politics-of-speculativescience-fiction

RT and SHARE: Release Date is TODAY! #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER, Vol II, #THESPANNERSSERIES on sale NOW!

Looking for some great summer reading in the sci-fi/ romance/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian/ speculative fiction genres? Adults, Young and New Adults will all be intrigued and entertained, informed and inspired by The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Just released for sale TODAY, 6/9/14, is This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Vol. II.

for RELEASE DAY 6/9/14: GIVEAWAY RULES:
1) Visit my website sallyember.com or my boards on Pinterest.com/sallyember, sallyember.Tumblr.com or Google+ or FB Spanners Series’ page and FOLLOW no later than midnight PDT (California, USA) 6/9/14.

2) DM me on what you Followed

3) and what you thought of your visit!

4) I will then DM you a coupon for FREE download of Vol II!

Sci-fi/ Romance /Multiverse/ Paranormal/ Utopian ebooks, The Spanners Series, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is on sale EVERYWHERE ebooks are sold starting today, 6/9/14, when all Pre-orders download! Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, nook @ $3.99, while VOL I, This Changes Everything, is permafree!
http://www.sallyember.com/ for all links, OR qualify for the GIVEAWAY!

Or, be a GRWAT supportive fan and PURCHASE/DOWNLOAD, RANK/RATE, REVIEW, SHARE about my ebook on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

How would YOU do with the changes after finding out we are not alone in the multiverse?

This Changes My Family and My Life Forever is the story of the first five years After Public Contact with the Many Worlds Collective (2013-2018), “The Transition” to full membership for Earth. Many of the changes, reactions, struggles and circumstances accompanying these years are related from the points of view of the main character, Dr. Clara Branon’s, adult son and his cousins as well as some of those cousins’ children. One of Clara’s nephews in particular, Moran Ackerman, who becomes Chief of the Psi-Warriors and all OverSeers, tells of his experiences and training in assuming those roles for Earth after having been a Rabbi and middle school teacher.

TCMFandMLF‘s content is edited/curated and also partly narrated by Esperanza Enlaces, Clara’s Chief Media Contact, a contemporary of Clara’s son, so some of Espe’s story and many parts of Clara’s are included as well.

final cover - digital and web

all cover and logo art by Aidana Willowraven

Reviews, Excerpts, Interviews, and more, including all buy links: http://www.sallyember.com Follow Sally on Twitter @sallyemberedd or this blog on WordPress or Tumblr http://sallyember.tumblr.com/ for excerpts from and news about upcoming Volumes!

Only $3.99 everywhere ebooks are sold.

Vol I, #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING, is PermaFree!

This Changes Everything, Vol I, The Spanners Series, includes anecdotes and events from the entire span of the series, with specific details as to how it all begins. Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse.  When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty.

The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth?

This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Thanks to everyone in my family, friendship and authors’ support circles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn for helping these Volumes and future ones get into YOUR hands! Special thanks to Aidana Willowraven, Cover Artist Extraordinaire!

Are YOU ready for the changes?

5-Star #Review of #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER, Vol II, #THESPANNERSSERIES

TITLE HERE

June 4, 2014

“Clara Ackerman Branon is back, and Earth’s Transition continues.

final cover - digital and web
cover art by Aidana Willowraven

“I actually read Vol I and Vol II back to back, so for me it was like I’m reading one continuous book. I think though that one would need to read Vol I really to fully understand what is going to happen.

“In this volume, we get introduced more to Clara’s family (they are a large family!) who all get interviewed about how they experienced Clara’s first contact with the aliens and earth’s transition (when the news first broke, what changed for them, any difficulties, what are they planning for the future). One of the main narrators is Clara’s nephew, Moran, a Rabbi before Transition, who will now become the Chief in the fight against those who resist and fight the transition. There is also more info about Clara, snippets about her life from young woman to past transition, we learn about her jobs, relationships with both man and woman and in communes, what does she listen to, read etc. Though I’m still confused about her relationship with her lover / not lover, Epifanio – but hey, more volumes are to come.

“One thing I like very much about The Spanners Series is the message that we can all live together in peace, learn from each other, be there for each other. All differences (religious, racial, gender, and even between species and inhabitants of other planets) are overcome. I mean, how cool would that be to be able to communicate with animals – and not in a jokey, Eddie Murphy Dr Dolitle kind of way, but accept them and their needs / interests as equal to humans. And those people who resist change (yes, there will always be those, even if it is clear that the change is for the better) will not be eliminated, but gently persuaded to recognise at what is best for them.

“Another thing I really like is the cover artwork and I hope the author doesn’t change the cover art throughout the series, that would be a shame. It’s pretty , imaginative. once you read the first few chapters and about the first encounter with ‘The Band’, have a look at the cover again and you will go ‘ahhhh’.

“I very much enjoyed this series and the somewhat unusual structure of the book with interview. It is blurring the lines between fiction and non-fiction. One of the great pluses for me was that abbreviations or foreign language used (one of the main characters is Hispanic) are always explained in brackets straight away. Because of the non-fiction style, it does not halt the flow of the story at all, but is in fact very helpful. On the minus side, as there are several of Clara’s relatives are interviewed, it can sometimes be a bit ‘samey’ at some stage. But the writing is easy to read, so it is not a big deal and I found myself skipping over a few pages.

“A satisfying continuation from Volume I – let’s see what’s coming up in the next volume.”

[NOTE: Please forgive her English mistakes: English is not her first language.]

Visit Peggy Farooqi’s Reviews and blog: http://thepegsterreads.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/review-this-changes-my-family-and-my.html
and on Amazon.com

Her review of Vol I, This Changes Everything, appeared last month (May, 2014)!

TCE is PERMAFREE everywhere; TCMF&MLF is in Pre-Orders through 6/8/9 @$1.99 and releases @$3.99 6/9/14. Links, excerpts, more reviews and info: http://www.sallyember.com/spanners

19th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

19th Serialized Excerpt, 4/14/14

CHAPTER SNAPSHOT #2

Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1968

(continued)

“I get sent to the office on several occasions because my skirt or dress is deemed ‘too short.’ This designation is made first by a teacher. Once at the administrators’ office, accused offenders have to kneel on the floor. If our skirt or dress does not touch the ground, we are to be sent home to change (meaning, someone has to come pick us up in a private car, since there is no reliable or close-enough public transportation), unless we opt to wear our hideous ‘gym suits’ the rest of the day.”

“Ironically,” Clara goes on, showing me with her hands how this outfit works, “this jump suit is a sleeveless top with shorts, so it shows more of our legs than any permissible skirt would. Since my mom is home with my youngest sister and often one of them is sick, I can’t get picked up, so gym suit it is.”

“‘Getting suited’ occurs on numerous occasions for many of us ‘popular’ girls. This circumstance, wearing our horrible gym suit around school for the rest of a day, becomes like wearing a badge of honor. We are the ones who dare to wear a skirt that we know in advance is too short (some of us roll the waistbands after leaving home in order to achieve a shorter hemline) and which ‘dooms’ us to wearing our gym suits. Everyone knows this must be intentional. My friends and I make ‘getting suited’ cool.” Clara laughs. “We’re such trend-setters in 1968!”

“You won’t believe the P.E. [Physical Education] classes’ misogynistic and unfair fashion policy: Here it is, summary fashion,” Clara says. “The boys get to wear a comfortable, regular T-shirt and shorts (in white and blue, respectively, our school colors) for P.E. Girls, however, have to wear these ridiculous gym suits. This detested thing is a one-piece, blouson number in an almost-royal blue color. It has an elastic waist and snaps on the too-loose sleeveless bodice with medium-length shorts attached. It has to have been designed to make every girl look terrible in it regardless of body type, which I suppose is a great leveler.”

“As I explain earlier,” Clara reminds me, “if girls forget this monstrosity at home or don’t wash it, don’t have it or don’t wear a clean-enough suit to every class (each girl is issued two and must have one to wear for each P.E. class, every day), we are marked down in our grade and also, made to stay after school (like, a detention).”

“These administrators are so uptight, they treat these infractions the same as forgetting homework or vandalizing the bathrooms. Earn enough detentions and we have to come on a Saturday, too (like the movie, The Breakfast Club), just for “not suiting up.” If we get marked down enough, we could flunk this required class and have to take it again in summer school. I am not kidding!”

Clara is still indignant, these 45 years later. “Lowering academic grades for appearance issues, particularly failing a student for noncompliance to a dress code, becomes illegal, but not yet.”

“Back to the dress code,” Clara goes on. “The only short skirts girls are allowed to wear to school have to be culottes, which are split skirts or skirts with shorts inside (sound familiar?), but only cheerleaders are allowed to wear them. Now you’re starting to understand some of the reasoning behind my wanting to be a cheerleader,” Clara tells me.

“In a typical fall or winter month, once a week all through 9th grade (on “game days,” meaning, a day the 9th-grade boys’ team of the season has a football or basketball game, usually a Friday), I get to wear my cheerleader’s outfit. The rest of the year I am at war with the skirt police and usually ‘get suited.'”

“I wear my gym suit proudly, regularly showing it off in defiance of the school’s absurd policies. There are usually a group of us on any given day. We walk down the halls showing off our legs and laughing at the adults for being such dimwits,” Clara explains. “We show more of our legs wearing these gym suits than we do in any skirt!”

I say mildly, “Quite the rebel, eh?”

Clara misses my light sarcasm, so intent on telling her story of these years. “Some teachers think I’m ‘interesting,’ ‘intelligent’ and ‘fun.’ I know because they tell me or my parents. Others detest me and the feeling is mutual.”

Clara grimaces. “Wearing short skirts and being a ‘smart-aleck’ are what passes for rebellion for a teenage girl in my era, in this town. So, yes. I am a ‘rebel.'”

Guess she does catch my sarcasm. I move to apologize, but she smiles at me and goes on.

“I earn a reputation for ‘being sassy,’ a term only applied to girls who talk back to authority in southern-bordering or actual southern states. In contrast—more sexism, here—a boy who talks back is told to stop ‘giving me lip’ by the adult who is being challenged.”

She looks at me, making sure I understand, then continues. “Disobedient girls are ridiculed and patronized; impertinent boys are given grudging respect by being viewed as threatening. See the difference?”

I nod.

Clara goes on with her reminiscing. “At one point in my dress-code and behavioral scofflaw years, my cheerleader’s status is jeopardized because I refuse to back down in some argument with the chorus teacher about where I am supposed to sit. I dimly remember that she is trying to separate me from my friends because we are ‘disruptive,’ meaning, we are talking and having fun in class. For these ‘bad behaviors,’ she wants to move my seat. I am an alto but she wants to move me to the second sopranos, which is not the part I sing. I refuse to move, declaring that we are now engaged in a ‘sit in’ (which are big in the civil rights and anti-war movements by now) to protest her unfair discrimination against my having friends, or something to that effect.”

“What happens next?” I ask. I am curious how much trouble she gets in.

Clara laughs. “She sends me to the office. I go off, waving derisively at her and happily at my friends. When I get there, the harried assistant Principal threatens to suspend me from being a cheerleader because he has nothing else to hold over me. What’s so ridiculous about this threat is that we’re already in March by now and the only sports ‘season’ left for me to cheer in is track and field, which we really don’t do cheering for, anyway. The Principal can tell his threat is not upsetting me, but he doesn’t know why.”

“When I get home, I tell my father. He decides to come in and threaten them with a lawsuit (he is an attorney by training but not by trade at that point), just for fun (for him, that is). My dad is not very involved in my life or even around much, but he does love a good fight.”

“The day of their meeting, I sit outside the Principal’s office and eavesdrop on the ensuing discussion. It is very funny, to me. My dad talks circles around these guys. They really do not have a leg to stand on, so to speak, since I have done nothing to get myself suspended from being a cheerleader, applying their own rules, my dad points out perfectly: I never smoke, drink alcohol, have public sex, skip classes, vandalize school property or commit any other school ‘crimes.’ There isn’t a policy that calls for a suspension of privileges for being disrespectful or having a ‘bad attitude,’ but they wish there have one, I’m sure.”

“As I see it clearly, now, I am an ‘impudent’ female who regularly gives certain adults much-deserved backtalk and ends up ‘getting suited’ for wearing short skirts (along with dozens of other girls) several times every month. I also have excellent grades and attendance and never forget my gym suit. I am a very good ‘bad’ girl and they don’t have a punishment for someone like me.”

“My dad prevails, but this does not endear me to my chorus teacher or the administrators. I’m glad to get out of that school and on to high school a few months later.”

“What is high school like at the end of the 1960s in the USA Midwest?” I ask.

Clara responds: “In the fall of 1969, losing the fashion battle and the legal war, unintentionally catching up to the rest of the country (at least, the coasts), the Roanne school board President announces that all dress codes are to be discarded across the school district.”

Clara is gleeful, remembering this “victory.”

“Within a few months of entering high school, we girls are wearing cut-offs, halter tops, going barefoot and bra-less to classes. The biggest change for boys is that no one forces them to keep their hair short enough not to touch their collars any longer.”

Clara recalls: “My sophomore year is quite fun and such a shocking contrast to the years of ludicrous restrictions by the fashion police that we are giddy with freedom. People are smoking pot in the courtyard, hanging out the windows playing rock music in the hallways, and generally being rowdy and undisciplined. I love it, but I don’t get into the wildest behaviors, myself.”

“It’s difficult for me to imagine having those restrictions at all,” I say, shaking my head. “By the time I get to kindergarten, we wear whatever we want. 1987, for me.”

Clara shakes her finger at me and exhorts: “Thank a feminist!”

“Thanks!” I tell Clara. I mean it.
************
“Here is the poem that won my spot in the statewide poetry magazine in 1969.” Clara reaches into a paper file folder and hands a yellowish page to me.

The poem is written in cursive writing on manila lined paper in blue ink. It has her teacher’s red-inked comments on it. I point to one part, silently asking Clara to explain.

“Mrs. Hay crosses out the last stanza all together, so I do not include it here, since it is not part of the winning poem’s form,” Clara tells me. Here is the poem.

TO DIE IN VAIN

by Clara Ackerman, 2/21/69, age 14

Sitting on a stool of self-pity

I glance up, casually,

To see if anyone had seen me

Dying.

(I wasn’t really dying, only dreaming of how much

They

would miss me) If I did

Die.

*******

“You could not pay me enough money to be 14 again,” Clara says emphatically.

“Nor me, either.” I agree wholeheartedly.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

19th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

19th Serialized Excerpt, 4/14/14

CHAPTER SNAPSHOT #2

Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1968

(continued)

“I get sent to the office on several occasions because my skirt or dress is deemed ‘too short.’ This designation is made first by a teacher. Once at the administrators’ office, accused offenders have to kneel on the floor. If our skirt or dress does not touch the ground, we are to be sent home to change (meaning, someone has to come pick us up in a private car, since there is no reliable or close-enough public transportation), unless we opt to wear our hideous ‘gym suits’ the rest of the day.”

“Ironically,” Clara goes on, showing me with her hands how this outfit works, “this jump suit is a sleeveless top with shorts, so it shows more of our legs than any permissible skirt would. Since my mom is home with my youngest sister and often one of them is sick, I can’t get picked up, so gym suit it is.”

“‘Getting suited’ occurs on numerous occasions for many of us ‘popular’ girls. This circumstance, wearing our horrible gym suit around school for the rest of a day, becomes like wearing a badge of honor. We are the ones who dare to wear a skirt that we know in advance is too short (some of us roll the waistbands after leaving home in order to achieve a shorter hemline) and which ‘dooms’ us to wearing our gym suits. Everyone knows this must be intentional. My friends and I make ‘getting suited’ cool.” Clara laughs. “We’re such trend-setters in 1968!”

“You won’t believe the P.E. [Physical Education] classes’ misogynistic and unfair fashion policy: Here it is, summary fashion,” Clara says. “The boys get to wear a comfortable, regular T-shirt and shorts (in white and blue, respectively, our school colors) for P.E. Girls, however, have to wear these ridiculous gym suits. This detested thing is a one-piece, blouson number in an almost-royal blue color. It has an elastic waist and snaps on the too-loose sleeveless bodice with medium-length shorts attached. It has to have been designed to make every girl look terrible in it regardless of body type, which I suppose is a great leveler.”

“As I explain earlier,” Clara reminds me, “if girls forget this monstrosity at home or don’t wash it, don’t have it or don’t wear a clean-enough suit to every class (each girl is issued two and must have one to wear for each P.E. class, every day), we are marked down in our grade and also, made to stay after school (like, a detention).”

“These administrators are so uptight, they treat these infractions the same as forgetting homework or vandalizing the bathrooms. Earn enough detentions and we have to come on a Saturday, too (like the movie, The Breakfast Club), just for “not suiting up.” If we get marked down enough, we could flunk this required class and have to take it again in summer school. I am not kidding!”

Clara is still indignant, these 45 years later. “Lowering academic grades for appearance issues, particularly failing a student for noncompliance to a dress code, becomes illegal, but not yet.”

“Back to the dress code,” Clara goes on. “The only short skirts girls are allowed to wear to school have to be culottes, which are split skirts or skirts with shorts inside (sound familiar?), but only cheerleaders are allowed to wear them. Now you’re starting to understand some of the reasoning behind my wanting to be a cheerleader,” Clara tells me.

“In a typical fall or winter month, once a week all through 9th grade (on “game days,” meaning, a day the 9th-grade boys’ team of the season has a football or basketball game, usually a Friday), I get to wear my cheerleader’s outfit. The rest of the year I am at war with the skirt police and usually ‘get suited.'”

“I wear my gym suit proudly, regularly showing it off in defiance of the school’s absurd policies. There are usually a group of us on any given day. We walk down the halls showing off our legs and laughing at the adults for being such dimwits,” Clara explains. “We show more of our legs wearing these gym suits than we do in any skirt!”

I say mildly, “Quite the rebel, eh?”

Clara misses my light sarcasm, so intent on telling her story of these years. “Some teachers think I’m ‘interesting,’ ‘intelligent’ and ‘fun.’ I know because they tell me or my parents. Others detest me and the feeling is mutual.”

Clara grimaces. “Wearing short skirts and being a ‘smart-aleck’ are what passes for rebellion for a teenage girl in my era, in this town. So, yes. I am a ‘rebel.'”

Guess she does catch my sarcasm. I move to apologize, but she smiles at me and goes on.

“I earn a reputation for ‘being sassy,’ a term only applied to girls who talk back to authority in southern-bordering or actual southern states. In contrast—more sexism, here—a boy who talks back is told to stop ‘giving me lip’ by the adult who is being challenged.”

She looks at me, making sure I understand, then continues. “Disobedient girls are ridiculed and patronized; impertinent boys are given grudging respect by being viewed as threatening. See the difference?”

I nod.

Clara goes on with her reminiscing. “At one point in my dress-code and behavioral scofflaw years, my cheerleader’s status is jeopardized because I refuse to back down in some argument with the chorus teacher about where I am supposed to sit. I dimly remember that she is trying to separate me from my friends because we are ‘disruptive,’ meaning, we are talking and having fun in class. For these ‘bad behaviors,’ she wants to move my seat. I am an alto but she wants to move me to the second sopranos, which is not the part I sing. I refuse to move, declaring that we are now engaged in a ‘sit in’ (which are big in the civil rights and anti-war movements by now) to protest her unfair discrimination against my having friends, or something to that effect.”

“What happens next?” I ask. I am curious how much trouble she gets in.

Clara laughs. “She sends me to the office. I go off, waving derisively at her and happily at my friends. When I get there, the harried assistant Principal threatens to suspend me from being a cheerleader because he has nothing else to hold over me. What’s so ridiculous about this threat is that we’re already in March by now and the only sports ‘season’ left for me to cheer in is track and field, which we really don’t do cheering for, anyway. The Principal can tell his threat is not upsetting me, but he doesn’t know why.”

“When I get home, I tell my father. He decides to come in and threaten them with a lawsuit (he is an attorney by training but not by trade at that point), just for fun (for him, that is). My dad is not very involved in my life or even around much, but he does love a good fight.”

“The day of their meeting, I sit outside the Principal’s office and eavesdrop on the ensuing discussion. It is very funny, to me. My dad talks circles around these guys. They really do not have a leg to stand on, so to speak, since I have done nothing to get myself suspended from being a cheerleader, applying their own rules, my dad points out perfectly: I never smoke, drink alcohol, have public sex, skip classes, vandalize school property or commit any other school ‘crimes.’ There isn’t a policy that calls for a suspension of privileges for being disrespectful or having a ‘bad attitude,’ but they wish there have one, I’m sure.”

“As I see it clearly, now, I am an ‘impudent’ female who regularly gives certain adults much-deserved backtalk and ends up ‘getting suited’ for wearing short skirts (along with dozens of other girls) several times every month. I also have excellent grades and attendance and never forget my gym suit. I am a very good ‘bad’ girl and they don’t have a punishment for someone like me.”

“My dad prevails, but this does not endear me to my chorus teacher or the administrators. I’m glad to get out of that school and on to high school a few months later.”

“What is high school like at the end of the 1960s in the USA Midwest?” I ask.

Clara responds: “In the fall of 1969, losing the fashion battle and the legal war, unintentionally catching up to the rest of the country (at least, the coasts), the Roanne school board President announces that all dress codes are to be discarded across the school district.”

Clara is gleeful, remembering this “victory.”

“Within a few months of entering high school, we girls are wearing cut-offs, halter tops, going barefoot and bra-less to classes. The biggest change for boys is that no one forces them to keep their hair short enough not to touch their collars any longer.”

Clara recalls: “My sophomore year is quite fun and such a shocking contrast to the years of ludicrous restrictions by the fashion police that we are giddy with freedom. People are smoking pot in the courtyard, hanging out the windows playing rock music in the hallways, and generally being rowdy and undisciplined. I love it, but I don’t get into the wildest behaviors, myself.”

“It’s difficult for me to imagine having those restrictions at all,” I say, shaking my head. “By the time I get to kindergarten, we wear whatever we want. 1987, for me.”

Clara shakes her finger at me and exhorts: “Thank a feminist!”

“Thanks!” I tell Clara. I mean it.
************
“Here is the poem that won my spot in the statewide poetry magazine in 1969.” Clara reaches into a paper file folder and hands a yellowish page to me.

The poem is written in cursive writing on manila lined paper in blue ink. It has her teacher’s red-inked comments on it. I point to one part, silently asking Clara to explain.

“Mrs. Hay crosses out the last stanza all together, so I do not include it here, since it is not part of the winning poem’s form,” Clara tells me. Here is the poem.

TO DIE IN VAIN

by Clara Ackerman, 2/21/69, age 14

Sitting on a stool of self-pity

I glance up, casually,

To see if anyone had seen me

Dying.

(I wasn’t really dying, only dreaming of how much

They

would miss me) If I did

Die.

*******

“You could not pay me enough money to be 14 again,” Clara says emphatically.

“Nor me, either.” I agree wholeheartedly.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

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