Category: Blog

Lament of an American Teacher

Lament of an American Teacher

When I began #teaching 20 years ago, I made a promise to myself. If #education ever got to the point where so much was placed upon us that I could no longer do my job, it was time to move on. I can no longer stand back and watch kids get hurt by #adultproblems.

Each and every day began to feel like a #fight to get what students need. Excuses were made, if problems were acknowledged at all. Students who needed major help, were denied services because he hadn’t physically hurt anyone. Unless your a teacher, you can’t possibly understand the feeling of sitting in an emergency drill realizing you’re no longer a teacher.

Suddenly, everything was our #fault. No matter what the circumstances, we as teachers were expected to fix it. Even some #parents have turned on us. Nothing is safe. Our personal lives are under scrutiny, our jobs are filled with unnecessary #paperwork and #redundancy that I’d spend every waking moment at times trying to keep up.

In the mean time, my #health began to deteriorate rapidly to the point where I was forced to face the truth. My worst #fear had been realized.

I had become a glorified #babysitter, #bodyguard, #protector of information so sensitive, even thinking about it could get you fired. The best part? Days schools transformed into #prisons for #StatewideTesting of information about students every teacher already knows. But laws require #SchoolDistricts to be on the defensive, and most are choosing appearance over students.

Our #teachers are in trouble. Our #schools are in trouble. Our #children count on us to educate and protect them.

We have #failed.

It’s time for #change. Time for we as a #society to take what we’ve learned and use it to do something other than #complain on #Facebook.

If you’re tired of all the madness and confusion, let’s begin a #movement, a statement reflecting true American values: #Honesty, #Integrity, #Humility, #Forgiveness, #Togetherness.

Someone once said, “One person can’t change the world.

My response:

It only takes a single #spark to light a #fire.

#KidsMatter #SchoolsMatter #PublicEducationMatters #TeachersMatter #EveryoneMatters

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We should be ashamed. Very ashamed. 

america-3005258_640Are these the “American Values” we hold so dear. Is this the example we want set for the world? We were great once, a beacon of what one day we could achieve.


We will be judged by our actions and our achievements.

Ask yourself, what have we truly achieved in an age where we have so much capability and potential? Our founding charter, the document that is the fabric of our country speaks of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and yet so many of our own citizens have been denied proper healthcare, education, living conditions, and even, in some cases, access to basic needs.

Does THIS (article) from CNN make you happy?  Puerto Rico – Six Months Later

Why do we neglect our own people and provinces and at the same time distance ourselves from each other  in an ever shrinking world?



The American Flag was once a symbol of hope, prosperity, and freedom for all, a beacon of light around the world to remind them of the power of democracy and the voice of the people. That call was so strong, France gifted us with another symbol of the American spirit.


“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” she wrote. “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

– Statue of Liberty


Throughout history we’ve proven one thing for certain. We are strongest #together.

Our most prosperous times have been our most cooperative. Yet we stand #divided, polarized on two sides of the same fence, so many voices shouting together we become burdened by the pressure of making sense of it all, picking sides as though our country were no more than a football tournament.

When does it stop? Where do we draw the line?

How many PEOPLE does it take before it becomes wrong?


“What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed?—a beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, looking before and after, gave us not that capacity and god-like reason to fester unused.”

– Shakespeare’s Hamlet

The truth is out there, buried between the rhetoric, as plain as the nose on your face. We’ve lost our way as a country, as a community, as a species. No matter what religion you are, what walk of life you hail from, what country you claim as origin, or what culture drives your wishes; this should turn our stomachs. One life suffering should anger us, a life lost should hurt, a terrorist act, unthinkable.

Instead, we point fingers and rationalize and because these people can’t advocate for themselves, we turn our meager attention back to the Great Wizard and stand in awe at his might and power.

How many have even thought to look behind the curtain?

#TearDownTheWalls #BringPeopleTogether #EmbraceHumanity #MakeAmericaProud #BeInformed #NoLimits

JMC-Alpha copy






Snatched - BookFINALLY!!

Snatched is ready for the public. It’s been a difficult few weeks, but here we are. I’ve gotten some great feedback already. A couple of kids in my class read the proof and loved it. Hope you enjoy as well! Now I get to start working on TEARS OF DESTINY!!


Discovery’s Official Launch!

Official Launch

WHEN: Saturday, July 23, 2016

WHERE: 5132 Deer Ridge Ct, Fort Wort, TX 76137

Sally Singletary’s Discovery is now available to the public! Come and join us in a celebration of food, fun, and even a bit of learning. We are featuring Q&A sessions with the author as well as answering questions regarding the writing business at all levels. So even if you’re a teen ready to grab your copy of Sally Singletary or you’re a writer, young or mature, we welcome you to an event that everyone will leave with something.
You do not need to RSVP for this event, but it is helpful so we can judge how many people are coming. You can do so on our Event Facebook Page.

We have a special Guest Speaker: April Gerard, A.L. Deleon Agency  & Co-Owner of Author Sensei. She will be sharing some great resources for writers looking to break into the market.

The pool is available. Bring your swim trunks or just put your feet in! Children are welcome, but please be responsible and make sure they are supervised. Above 10 preferred.

Dinner and adult beverages will be served around 6.


12-3 Author Writing Information/ Q&A

3-6 Meet & Greet/ Games / Fun

6-? Party in the Pool/ Food & Fun

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The REAL Sally Singletary

Back when the concept of Sally Singletary was in its infancy, we were struggling to come up with a name for her character who originates in the TEARS OF DESTINY series. Sally was and is originally a character in that book who served only as one of Daniel’s friend. At the time, I was stuck with the book after having rewritten and reworked several times.

I needed to move on.

A BETA reader really liked Sally’s character and suggested doing more with her in the book. That was when the idea hit me, what about a whole new book about her? I took the idea and ran with it, figuring it was time to step away from my first book and move on for a while.

When we came up with the name Sally Singletary, I did a quick web search and found only one person who matched the name so I figured it was unique enough not to get terribly confused with other titles or important people (not to imply that the REAL Sally isn’t important, but she was still in school at the time  I wrote SALLY SINGLETARY’s CURIOSITY). I completed the manuscript over the course of three months and after editing and such it was released in December 2012.

The following year I received an email requesting a signed copy of the book for a gentleman’s daughter to give to her for her graduation. It turned out his name was Paige Singletary and his aughter was Sally. I was delighted to send him copies and sign. When she graduated from the University of Georgia in Atlanta, the coincidences deepened, since the setting for CURIOSITY is Atlanta.

The best part was when Sally sent a #selfie back with the book! So to start our event right, here’s the REAL Sally Singletary with SALLY SINGLETARY’S CURIOSITY!


Quick Q&A with J.M.Cataffo by Fellow Author Dane Cobain


Hi, Johnny! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work.

For starters, I’m a fourth grade teacher with a passion for writing and science. I’ve dreamed of becoming an author for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, so fantasyand science fiction have always been right up my alley. I decided to try something new, however, with my Sally Singletary series. I wanted to bring the inquisitiveness of Nancy Drew into a new era. While the character of Nancy Drew would never fly with today’s audiences, Sally retains her curiosity and drive to find the truth no matter how strange it may be. [READ MORE]

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Saturday Selfies for Sally

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Help us celebrate SALLY SINGLETARY’S DISCOVERY release by taking a #selfie with Sally. You can take it with a book, post card, note card, anything that has Sally’s face on it. You can even draw your own! The idea is to get enough pictures of Sally out there to help spread the word. This is a fun promotion!

Be sure to tag the post with #SelfiesForSally so she can keep track.

You can post on as many social networking site you like. Each time Sally finds yours, you’ll be automatically entered into our drawing. Anyone who has signed up for our email list is automatically entered, but every additional entry increases your chances of #winning! The drawing will take place at the Official Release Party at the beginning of July! More info to come!


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Orlando in My Thoughts…

As a former resident of Orlando for seven years, so to say it was once a home to me is an understatement. I met the most amazing people in my life there that helped me in ways I could never repay. It was a place of friendship and launched my career as a teacher. Hearing this news saddened me.


It is in times such as these that we remember the strength we have in those around us, the bonds we’ve built, and the trust we place in each other and our society. Events such as what happened in ‪#‎Orlando‬ are tragic, but are meant to divide us through fear and intimidation. It’s called terrorism for a reason. We can either let it turn us against our neighbor, divide us until we tear ourselves apart, break us until we are afraid to leave our homes. These acts give extremists the victory they seek. They are exactly the response they desire. We can either give in to our fears or we can unite together and use our collective humanity to stand against those who seek to destroy all we’ve built. In memory of all those poor souls and their family. Give your support in any way you can. It’s still as relevant today as ever:


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COMMON SENSE: Why We’ve Become So Obsessed with Toilets

wc-1033443_640This has been an issue going around for a short while now and rather than put any particular biased spin on it, I’d like to take a moment to dissect the issue and come to some terms with which to understand why it has so many people rankled.

First, let’s visit the practice of separate restrooms in our society. Why do we feel so afraid of the opposite sex? Why is it such a big deal who sits on the other side of that door? Understandably, it would be different if a restroom were equipped with urinals, but this is easily fixed with stalls. Do you find people bothering you while you’re inside often? Is there something that goes on once you leave that you’d be embarrassed for a member of the opposite sex to see? For me, I wash my hands, fix my hair, and go on about my business. I’m not checking stalls to see who’s on the other side, nor do I care what they’re doing while in there. I’ve never been in a restroom where stalls weren’t an option, and in most cases, are standard in women’s restrooms.

So why then do we separate the sexes? When you really think about it, it’s a practice that seems odd, at least to me. Sure, if it were a room with a bunch of toilets lined side by side, I’d be a bit more wary of the situation, but that’s not the case in the U.S. We value privacy and have stalls to ensure it. I’m not exactly sure why separate rooms are even necessary.

woman-933488_640But I understand some people would feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to be in the same restroom as a member of the opposite sex. Why then are we not afraid of the opposite sex when we’re in any other room with them? Should I feel afraid sitting next to a woman in a stadium, or a woman afraid of a man next to her in a bar? What happens in restrooms that makes people so alarmed? In my experience, You do your business and are out the door in minutes.

Here’s where things get really confusing.

So, okay, we have separate restrooms for each sex, and are generally viewed as private areas the opposite sex should not enter. But what about gender? Many people believe that the sex of a person determines their gender. This is, however, not true. Gender identity issues are real and these people feel they were born the wrong sex. We’re talking a minuscule portion of the population. They generally not only dress and act like their perceived gender, but they also are often indistinguishable from others of their gender who happen to match their sex. The chances of you running into someone with gender identity disorder is extremely slim, and even then you’d never know. So why then has it become such a big deal who walks into the restroom if you wouldn’t know the difference anyway?

restroom-99226_1280-2Many have made interesting claims as how this will open up the doors for sexual predators to prey on women in the restroom. I’m not exactly sure how this logic plays out (not to mention I’m more concerned about boys being sexually assaulted in restrooms since men can already enter there with no problem). The guidelines for gender identity use of restrooms doesn’t give free access to anyone entering the restroom. If a guy walks in who is clearly suspicious, you should immediately seek assistance. My question is, how is that different from now? What’s stopping a man from entering the women’s room now? A true sexual predator isn’t going to care what sign is on the door. These guidelines change nothing. It’s not allowing just anyone to enter the restroom, it’s specifically allowing those with gender identity disorders.

“What if my child sees something they shouldn’t?”

Another concern I’ve heard tossed around is, “What if my child sees something they shouldn’t?” First off, if you’re concerned about your child in the restroom, you should accompany them. Secondly, I refer to my previous comment. Unless your child is peeking under stall doors, what are they going to see? Most likely, they might notice the girl who looks a bit too masculine, or the boy who looks a bit too feminine, but they’re more likely to see these people outside the restroom than inside (not to mention they’re more likely to see something inappropriate in movies than in public).

Common Sense

clasped-hands-541849_1280The last point I want to make is the most important and the one that is the COMMON SENSE part of this article. The entire purpose of these issues stemmed from communities barring people with gender identity issues from using the restroom. This is a political and social move to “stir the pot” if you will against the LGBT community. Many are frustrated and upset about gay marriage being made legal, they have turned these issues into an “attack on their religious freedoms.” Allowing people equal access does not take away from anyone’s religious freedom. It’s been insinuated, that selling a product to a gay couple who is getting married is equated to participating in their marriage. By that logic, a person who sells a gun is a participant in a murder. The person who sells a car, is a participant of the accident. Restaurants become participants in a person’s eating habits and by extension are responsible for their obesity. I think you get where I’m going with this.

There is a line.

A really dear friend of mine is struggling with this very issue, and in the true nature of our friendship, used the line “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” The problem here is that we’re not talking about needs. In our current political and social climate it’s, “The beliefs of the many outweighs the beliefs of the few, or the one.” Religious freedom doesn’t work that way. The entire reason for separation of church and state is to avoid any one religion overpowering another, any one person’s beliefs to set the stage against those with opposing beliefs. That’s the whole reason we rebelled against England in the first place. We didn’t want a state sponsored religion telling us what to do.

cologne-524243_1280I understand people’s frustration with these issues and am quite honestly torn myself. I get why people feel like there is this invisible war going on. Much has happened too fast. People haven’t had time to digest the changes and feel personally attacked because they perceive these changes as directly affecting them. But do they really? Has the marriage of a gay or lesbian couple affected you in anyway. Has it stopped you from going to church? Going to the store? Watching a movie? I’d bet not. It only affects you in the sense that you may feel it’s wrong and goes against God’s will. But isn’t that the point? Isn’t it supposed to be YOUR beliefs and YOUR personal relationship with God? How does someone else’s choices affect yours? Has their decisions in any way diminished YOUR relationship with God?

I’ve never had to walk in the shoes of someone who was dealing with gender identity disorder. Perhaps we should. Perhaps we need perspective into the argument before making decisions so blindly. These people are going through very real, sometimes life-threatening struggles. They feel rejected enough already. My understanding of Christianity was to always “love thy neighbor,” not fear them. I don’t see how making the world a more accepting place goes against anyone’s religious convictions.

Rather than picking on people because they are different, perhaps we should focus our energy on making everyone safer, being a community united rather than factions divided.

Religious Liberty affords people the right to worship and explore their religious convictions without any government involvement or fear of retribution. It does not, however, guarantee that your specific beliefs, whether in the majority or not, should be imposed on others. While you may not disagree with the others, it does not give anyone the right to take away other’s freedoms. Once you cross that line, once you use your convictions to deny someone else their rights and freedoms, it’s no longer Religious Liberty, it’s become Religious Persecution.

wc-1210963_640Bathrooms are what they are. Places for people to do their business. Most I’ve seen are private and can accommodate anyone’s bodily functions regardless of how they’re released. Common Sense has been and always will be the best practice in matters such as these. Rather than picking on people because they are different, perhaps we should focus our energy on making everyone safer, being a community united rather than factions divided.



All images obtained from Pixabay: Free images and videos you can use anywhere

Booktrope: The Situation So Far…

closed-door-sign-closedAs some of you may know, my publisher has decided to close its doors as of May 31, 2016. I was completely heartbroken when I received the news and have been trying to figure out how best to move forward. Of course, in all situations such as this, there were legal questions involved with whether or not our books would be allowed to move forward at all. I was happy to see that at least they had the forethought and the decency to close up shop without leaving all its authors out in the rain. That being said, there were still many logistical questions that needed to be answered as well. It seems I faired the weather better than some given that I own the rights to my cover. I had to pay out my creative team, but that’s the cost of publishing.

My biggest concern was my creative team. Laura Goodwin and Jenna Roundy have done such amazing work as my editors. I didn’t want to lose them. Fortunately, they both agreed to continue forward on the projects. I say all of this to say, I’m not bitter or angry—a bit emotional still—but I’ve realized this may have solidified my original decision to do this work on my own. I am still not sure how this will affect others on my team. April Gerard was definitely a huge supporter and great Book Manager.

My experiences with Booktrope have not been the best. Whenever a publisher is involved, decisions are made that you don’t always feel are in your best interest. Yes, the road forward will be difficult. A lot of places still don’t welcome indie authors, but my goal was never to be a rock star of the book world. I just wanted to write books people will enjoy.

So my decision is this: I’m moving forward and not looking back. SALLY SINGLETARY’S CURIOSITY will be re-published (once again) on June 1st with a new cover based on MY specifications and design. Also, on June 1st, SALLY SINGLETARY’S DISCOVERY will also be released for the first time. I really think you’ll like this book. My editor raved about it each time she did another pass. And I’m also happy to announce that SNATCHED will be released later this summer.

Just to whet your appetite and get you excited, I’m releasing all three covers right now!

Sally Singletary - Book           Sally Singletary's Discovery - Book            Snatched - Book

Aren’t they beautiful? I’m so happy with these designs! They take the best of the originals and still give it the look and feel they need.

Be looking for CONTEST information soon. For everyone you share posts with and  encourage to sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get an opportunity to win not one, but TWO signed books, a bundled set of CURIOSITY and DISCOVERY. Don’t forget to tag me in posts you share so I know how many times you’ve shared and can keep track of how many times to put your name in the drawing.

You can sign up for our email list here.

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