Shawndra Russell Communications

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Movie Mondays: Twilight’s Breaking Dawn: Part 1


Fiction Fridays: Elin Hiderbrand’s “The Castaways”

Elin Hilderbrand is my personal mentor right now through her book The Castaways. I am working on the second draft of my novel, which is about a group of couple friends (plus one little brother), and Hilderbrand’s novel is the perfect teacher. This book, like mine, is about a group of too-close couple friends; hers are all reeling from the boating accident that killed the group’s golden couple, the unspoken homecoming queen and king.

(Side note: I love the brilliance of this title as well. The group of friends call themselves “the castaways,” the drowned couple were playing “castaways” on the day of their accident by escaping the mainland, and each person feels like a castaway in their own marriage).

Hilderbrand dives right in, dropping the bomb about their deaths in the beginning, then switching the omniscient narrator’s focus to one of the other six adults to reveal all the strands of the sticky web that these people are all woven in to.

Besides a brilliant structure, I really enjoyed and learned from Hilderbrand’s character reveals. Each narrator reveals plenty about themselves when they are the focal point, but they also reveal so much about the other characters. In some ways, I learn more about the other characters than the one being highlighted. She shows the discrepancies between how we view ourselves and how others view us. Heck, we really get six different perspectives about each character–themselves and the five other people who are intimately close with them.

This method really helps round out each character and give a complete picture of their insecurities, flaws, strengths, weaknesses, and of course, secrets. The connections between this group of couple friends (and really any group of couple friends for that matter) are not as they appear. Each couple isn’t the perfect husband and wife, the women aren’t all best friends, and the guys aren’t all buddies. The invisible ties each individually has to the other seven people are heartbreaking and real. To me, no one is the villain or heroine/hero, protagonist/antagonist or any other typical role. These are just eight people trying to live their lives the best they can, but emotions trump rationality and morals.

Besides of study of couple friendships and friendship in general, readers get a glimpse into four different marriages with their own unique set of issues and struggles. I feel like I am peering through my neighbor’s windows, and it makes me want to keep looking.


Taste Tuesdays: Potstickers–The Stickier, the Better?

I attended the


Blog Break!

So…I have blogged every day since January 16, 2011 (not too shabby, right?!) and have decided to give myself a break because I have¬†several HUGE deadlines looming plus a few small deadlines all due in early September…which is crazy considering that is when we have two sets of out-of-town guests coming in (can you say perfect timing?).

To ensure I cross all my t’s and dot all my i’s before then, I have decided I need to put the blog on the back burner. But, I will be back soon with plenty of fun creative stuff and to celebrate lots more other creatives!

As always, thanks for reading, and keep creating!



Double post Monday! New Yahoo! article

A peek at what I’m looking forward to this summer break:
A Teacher’s Perspective: What I’m Looking Forward to for Summer Break



Hey everyone,

Just had to let you know that we have someone interested in publishing our book! Nothing is finalized yet, but good things are happening!!! As my facebook status says, keep your fingers, toes, and anything else you can cross, crossed for us!!! I will keep you posted (I just made a pun!).

For now, check out our website-in-progress:


Double post Sunday! New Yahoo! article

The assignment? Write about local breweries in your area. Being a craft beer lover, I couldn’t pass this assignment up, so I wrote about our one and only microbrewery, Moon River Brewing Company. Check it out here:
Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah, Georgia


School Sundays-Having to “Filter” Myself

One of the most difficult things about teaching for me is that I feel like I have to “filter” myself–not revealing too much of my personal life, or sharing my political beliefs, or mentioning celebrity gossip (which is one of my vices that I inherited from my mom), and speaking perfect and grammatically at all times and never making any mistakes (which of course I do). I sometimes feel like I am only presenting a perfected version of myself–the most politically correct, more reserved (which I am definitely not), and self that bites her tongue when they say something that’s so naive that I want to respond, “Wait ’til your my age and you’ll see things differently” which I don’t bother because they would just think I am old and wouldn’t believe me anyway. But I guess we all present a somewhat constructed version of ourselves at work. What do you think? Do you feel like you are not completely yourself at work?

For more school related articles, please read:
Thanks to my High School English teacher
A Teacher’s Perspective: 5 New Year’s Resolutions for my Classroom
Teacher Insights: Using Google Documents as a Sanity (and Time!) Saver
Teacher Insights: Students Think Cheating is ‘No Big Deal’
A Teacher’s Perspective: Thinking About Becoming a Teacher?
A Teacher’s Perspective: Stopping Helplessness



Had to double post today because TODAY is the biggest day of my writing career SO FAR!!!!! My first published piece is out in the world today: MUSIC MATTERS: LIVE MUSIC SUMMARY. PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK TO READ AND COMMENT!!! You can even sign up to receive a live feed so you never miss a future article ;) Each week, I will be featuring one band that is performing locally in Savannah, and the publication comes out on Thursdays as a preview of all live music in the area for that weekend. I LOVE writing the articles, doing the research, and interviewing the bands. Doing the feature has also encouraged us to want and go see more live music. Tonight, I’m going out with the girls to celebrate and vote for Savannah’s 2011 “Signature Cocktail” competition and then Gary is going to meet us out to watch the band Lubriphonic that I previewed live. It’s sure to be a great night, and I truly feel lucky to have this opportunity and to be able to do what I love, WRITE!, and share it with others. THANKS FOR READING!!!!

Oh, and you can buy their cd below if you are into funky, bluesy rock n’ roll:


School Sundays-Three Day Weekends

Three day weekends are so crucial for teachers and students to keep our sanity, and they always come at the perfect time–just when we think we can’t take it anymore, a break comes, and we get that mental and emotional escape. People always say that they are jealous of my schedule, but the reality is, these breaks are not just for fun–they truly are essential for us to stay sane. Thank you President’s Day!