The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, September 25, 2017

Spending the Night With Linda O'Connell

         Linda O'Connell recently spoke as part of a panel for the St. Louis Publishers Association's September meeting. 


        There were three editors/publishers who also spoke. Linda is a prolific writer and has edited anthologies. She's a generous critique partner. Here is what she shared with the audience:
  • She admitted, right off the bat, she did not have the same kind of MFA as some of the other panelists. Her MFA stands for "Mighty Fine Attitude."  (I suspect the "A" stands for a different word, a thee-letter word, since I've heard her husband talk about what attracted him to Linda, but I can't be sure...) 
  • It's important to write to express, not to impress. Instead of saying "feminine hygiene products," why not just say "tampons"?
  • Rejection's more about them (the editor) than you (the writer). It's either a case of "They don't appreciate your work" or "Your work doesn't meet their needs." 
  • Linda doesn't keep an Excel spreadsheet of her submissions. Instead, she handwrites what she submits on a calendar. If it's been a week a few days (or in the case of uber-prolific Linda) an hour since she last sent off something, she'll get busy and polish up a piece to submit it. 

                  If you were part of a panel, what advice would you share?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Vindaloo is Whoo Hoo... Margaret Atwood Came to St. Louis... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #77

         A month ago I fell in love with a vindaloo sauce. Slip some chicken into that stuff, bake it, and it was spicy... but just the right amount of heat.

        My husband looked for more (at the same grocery store) but they had discontinued stocking it. I was cranky acting like I always do. I was jonesing for some vindaloo. 

        Hubby came to the rescue. Or was he trying to kill me? He found some online, and ordered a six pack of the jarred concoction of the gods. Waiting for that package was difficult as I salivated over future vindaloo dinners. I promised my daughter-in-law a jar of it. ("It would make a great quick dinner for you, after teaching all day," I said. Little did I know that my promise might later be construed as premeditation...)

      Well, that sauce that was delivered was labeled "hot and spicy," and they didn't mean hot by white-as-notebook-paper people standards. Immediately, I discovered that "hot" by Indian standards means "permanently burn your tastebuds" hot. 




      (If anyone would like a jar of it, I'd be happy to give you one. Don't be nervous when I hand it to you and I've got an oven mitt on...)

       Now onto a hot writer--Margaret Atwood.

       She's the author of The Handmaid's Tale and earlier this week, she came to St. Louis. I didn't get to see her, but my daughter sent me a link to an article about her appearance... in case you're interested.

        Tonight I'm going to see Sherman Alexie (I am pinching myself, I'm so excited) so I won't be able to respond to the dozens one comment on this post until much later this evening. 

        And now onto book blurb stuff:


And now onto our book blurb of the week.

            Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a love story about a senior citizen and her bingo dauber? Is it an insider's tale, exposing the horrors of bingo halls? You decide.

         Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Her first romance novel, Love Built to Last, just came out as an audio book. Thankfully, she and her hubster and their home are safe and sound. (By the way, years ago, Lisa predicted that writing these silly blurbs would help with writing the real thing and by cracky, she's right.)

          Okay, back to book blurb stuff.
       
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

        Here's the book cover, along with my blurb: 

   


Jean’s Packin’ Something in Her Depends

Jean was sick and tired of the fast and loosey-goosey bingo games at the nursing home. She’d complained. She’d written letters. Now she’d have to show them she means business.
Every Tuesday, she’d come early, set up her daubers and her good-luck trinkets, and then she’d peruse the prize table. No matter what Jean set her sights on—a dollar-store stuffed animal or a plastic rain bonnet—and no matter what threats she’d hiss (“That one’s gonna be mine! Stay away from the pink panda or I’ll slip you a whole box of Ex-Lax in your pudding.”), some blue-haired biddy would snatch Jean’s prize before she had the chance to win it.

Some hot lead will show ‘em she’s serious. Are those old folks feelin’ lucky… ‘cause Jean sure is. (128 words)


For those who want to work ahead on next week's blurb, here is the photo:



Monday, September 18, 2017

Silence is NOT Golden... Back-of-the-Book Blurb #76... and Radar's Got Some Bling

       The late comedian and activist, Dick Gregory, once said, "You must have agitation. Think about it. You put water and soap into the washing machine. If you don't have any agitation, you just end up with a bunch of dirty laundry." (This was the quote to the best of my recollection. I heard him say it on an interview that I watched on TV.)

        In St. Louis, we have a bunch of dirty laundry that has never been fully aired... and some people wonder if agitation is truly necessary.

       Since Friday, St. Louis has been on fire. Protests. Face-offs. Concerts have been cancelled (U2 and Ed Sheeran). Shops have closed down early. Malls have filled up with protesters. Business has been disrupted.

        Some people wonder if "all that" is necessary.

        I wonder what's going to work...

        Mere conversations haven't worked. Marching in the streets hasn't worked. Chants. Signs. Collaborations between communities and churches and community representatives haven't worked.

        As the Cuba Gooding, Jr. character in the movie Jerry McGuire says, "Show me the money," perhaps it might make a difference if St. Louis residents don't show the money. Back in Montgomery in 1955 and 1956, the bus boycotts worked because they disrupted business. Business-owners' pocketbooks were hurt... and a change came.

        A sign I saw (via the televised news) this weekend gave me a hard nudge. "White silence = violence." I know what they're saying. However, I might be tempted to make the plea to change "violence" to "acceptance," although I know that silence/acceptance leads to the violence.

        I am going to have to start opening my mouth...




       Before we get to the book blurb (which is late, I know, I know), I wonder: What is your BHAG? If you wonder what a BHAG is, check out my post on The Muffin. (Hint: It involves the brilliant and talented Renee Roberson.)

 And now onto our book blurb of the week.

            Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it an insider's story by Michael Moore? Is it nonfiction book about the meat industry? You decide.

         Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Her first romance novel, Love Built to Last, just came out as an audio book. She left Florida temporarily, supposedly because of Hurricane Irma, 

          Okay, back to book blurb stuff.
       
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

        Here's the book cover, along with my blurb: 
   
     
   


The Newest White Meat on the Block


“Not all of those wackadoodles are vegans. Some of ‘em just like to play around with knives and swords and run around in kilts and puffy shirts. And most of those crazies love meat.”


It was Renaissance Faire time. The time when women hoisted up all the cleavage they could summon… so they could put it on display. The time when lute music wafted through the woods. The time when mermaids, unicorns and jousting collided in one wacky weekend.


           Walter Theodore Franklin and Ima Knot Kidding wanted to offer a new taste sensation to lure an even bigger crowd than last year--and they found what they figured would be a winner. Unicorn meat.


They got the meat certified (by a butcher that was certifiably crazy), thanks to some plaster-of-paris and duct tape. Now all they had to do was create some delicious dishes…

… and hope for rave reviews. (149 words)






Love a Golden Rescue had their reunion picnic on
Saturday, to celebrate the families who've adopted our dogs.
The theme was "Doggywood" so the girl dogs got carnations to
clip onto their collars and the boy dogs got gold lame' bow ties.
Unfortunately for Radar's tres macho reputation, the bow tie
was so small, it was eclipsed by his ruffly fur when worn the
way it was supposed to be worn... hence the more feminine
positioning...


         For those folks who want at least a few days to work on the blurb for this week (since it's Monday already), here is the picture for the next book blurb:






Monday, September 11, 2017

Do Blondes Have More Fun?

       There's been once or twice that I've chosen a box of hair dye that's blonder than I like. I tend to go for the redder, more coppery hues. Do I have more fun for those weeks days until it fades? I don't think so.

       When I had white-blonde hair when I was younger (up to four or so) and then dishwater blond (until I was 12), I had lots of fun, but I attribute the good times to my young age.

       Our dog Radar (who has reddish-blonde hair) enjoys every minute of almost every day. Getting his nails clipped. Going to the vet for a shot. He doesn't enjoy those moments, but he more than makes up for it with his romps in the back yard and his games of fetch and his get-a-treat-every-time-he-comes-in treatment.

      At the end of the month, however, we're welcoming a temporary new blonde into our home, and here she is:

      
         Winslet (the bottom left golden) is going to join us as a foster dog. She's flying in from Istanbul, but I'm sure she'll quickly learn English. 

       Hopefully, Radar will be a gentleman and treat her in a polite way.

       All four of these dogs will be coming to St. Louis in a few weeks. If you know anyone who wants to foster or adopt a golden retriever, please direct them to Love a Golden...

       ... And wish us luck. Radar can be quite, uh, exuberant.


 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Kids in Crisis... Music for Writers... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #75

        First of all, if you haven't read my most recent post on The Muffin, check it out. (You'll get to see a pig that can fly... You'll also get to see a quilt made by Lynn Obermoeller.)     

        Now away from that little bit of self-promotion... This is my 29th year of teaching. In every one of my classrooms there's been at least one kid in crisis.
  • a 3rd grader who was promised a plastic crown at an amusement park, but her father changed his mind (for no reason) and broke her heart
  • a little boy who was threatened on a regular basis with going to a foster home because of his school misbehavior
  • loads of kids (too many to count) who dealt with their parent's addiction/mental illness
            It saddens me to see adult issues being heaped upon kids. Modifications are made, interventions are held, gatherings take place and phone calls are made. We do what we're able to do... and hope for the best.

            I have a couple of students who are struggling. They each have a mountain of problems and a canyon of sorrow they're dealing with. Please send good thoughts their way...




           I recently read how a writer uses music. Unfortunately, I can't write while listening to music with lyrics. I get sidetracked and end up paying attention to the songs and forget about the writing.

           This particular writer found a song that fit the mood of his manuscript, and he listened to the same song, over and over while he wrote. It became white noise.

            That technique intrigues me. This November we're doing NaNoWriMo. I'll be doing it with 4th-8th graders. My students from last year are excited. The 4th-6th graders--who I didn't have as students last year--are a bit nervous. However, we're going to head off on that adventure together, and it will be a blast. 

            Many students want to write while listening to music, but too often, they spend more time finding songs and less time on writing. If they don't want to listen to Vivaldi or Miles Davis, I'm going to suggest they find one song and listen to it over and over.

            And now onto our book blurb of the week.

            Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a romance about a boy and his rat named "Ben"? Is it a guide for animal lovers? You decide.

         Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Her first romance novel, Love Built to Last, just came out as an audio book. Also, she's currently dealing with an unwanted guest named Irma, so think good thoughts for her as well...

          Okay, back to book blurb stuff.
       
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

        Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:



Bryce the Unbearable

Bryce was a brat. He was spoiled rotten and everybody knew it except for his parents.
His teacher drank every evening and on the weekends, she OD’ed on chocolate. On the rare days when he was sick and absent from school (most germs were too weak to land on Bryce) his teacher shrieked with excitement.
When they saw Bryce loose and wreaking havoc on the sidewalk, the neighbors ran back into their homes, locked their doors and stayed away from the windows--in case Bryce was tempted to barge in or felt like lobbing around rocks. All the aunts, uncles and even the grandparents avoided Bryce.
But his parents thought he was “destined for greatness” and felt limitations would stifle his creativity.
Will Bryce live to be five? Or will his mom and dad finally find the banks of the River Denial and climb out of the water? 147 words





And if you want to play along next Friday (or Saturday, if I have computer troubles like I had last night), here in the photo for the next book blurb:




Monday, September 4, 2017

Just Six Words




        At the beginning of the school year, my students worked on six-word memoirs. The 4th-8th graders all created slides that summed up their lives or said something important--in just six words.

        The above is a slide I made last school year. It sums up what I feel about footwear. Much to my daughter and granddaughter's dismay, I value comfort way over style. If the shoes are butt-ugly but feel like slippers, I'm all over them.

        Today is Labor Day. To celebrate the holiday, I'm taking it easy working hard working at procrastinating as long as possible before I write my lesson plan for Tuesday.

        How would you sum up your philosophy of life in just six words? You could even think of two, which is what I suggested to my students: think of a serious one and think of a humorous one. (They made them anonymously, without their names on the slides, so they would feel free to be honest.)