The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dog Stuff, Turkey Stuff and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 100

For the past week we've been fostering Sasha (who will be Bella in couple of weeks, when she's adopted). This sweet golden mix is getting used to being a pet. She's never been in a house before, and has not yet had a single accident. We tried putting her in a crate when we were at work, but that only lasted a few hours... My husband came home at noon and found her shaking with fear, and let her out. She hasn't chewed anything, and is (so far) not letting Radar aggravate her too much.

This is Sasha (Bella) in the foreground, in our combination living room-dining room-
entertainment center-family room.

This is Sasha when we first saw her. She had a hole dug into the dirt
next to the house where a family was looking after her.


This is Sasha (Bella) on the porch of our Turkish friends.

I posted a bit about my trip to Turkey, so if you'd like to find out how I ate my way across the country, from Istanbul to Gomec, check out my piece.

And now, onto book blurb stuff (and yes, I skipped the 99th one due to my travels).

And now, onto back-of-the-book blurb business. Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on why Speedos and skimpy suits for men are bad fashion choices? Is it a photo collection of deranged old men? 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. Check out her blog, along with her books. Anything she writes is wonderful, and not only is she a gifted writer, she's also a generous friend.
     
          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:






Club Dead-No-More

Henry was stuck in what his kids thought was a wonderful resort-style senior citizen community. Club Dead. His daughter loved the show The Walking Dead and fell in love with the place just because of the name.

Yeah, there's somebody taken away in a slow-moving ambulance every week, but Henry's determined it's not him... at least not for a while.

Spending his days sunning on the beach is boring, until he opened one of the abandoned oil drums. Floating in a green liquid was a baggie full of blue pills.

After taking one, Henry discovered an alertness he'd been missing for decades. Suddenly parts of him were attentive that had been slumbering for so long. 

Henry's sudden zest for life, combined with the botox-ed beach biddies who were so pumped with silicone they could be used for life rafts... well, let's just say the beach is now a busier place. (150 words)



For those who are curious, what Lisa Ricard Claro promised to happen did happen. After doing a hundred of these blurbs--even if they're silly and not for real blurbs--they've gotten easier. And for those who'd like to play along, here is the photo for the next back-of-the-book blurb:


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Traveling Turkish-Style, Being "Too Cool" Results in Being Cold and 6-Word Memoirs

I got back this weekend from Turkey. I saw lovely countryside, ate delicious food and we ended up bringing back four golden retrievers. I'll write more about the dogs on Friday, and tell about a dog we rescued while I was there--her name (for now) is SueJan (named after the other Love a Golden volunteer who traveled with me, and me... Yeah, I know, but "SiouxJan" would be too hard to verbally navigate).

This is Danny, one of the goldens we brought from Turkey to
Chicago and then to St. Louis. Our flight from Istanbul got in late
on Thursday night, so we spent the night at La Quinta, which is a
dog-friendly chain. Each of us had 2 dogs in our room. Danny is
used to sleeping in a bed since he was rescued in January, and
has been spoiled (as all dogs should be) by his Turkish foster mom.

I brought clothes that could be hand washed and hung up or laid out to dry, since I was going to be in Turkey a week and I was only bringing a small carry-on bag. I didn't need no stinkin' coat or jacket. I was going to a warm country, after all.


That is me on the right. We're in Aya Sofya,
a church (now a museum) built in 400-something AD.

Well, one evening in Gomec (a small town about 5 hours from Istanbul) I had to borrow a hoodie. It was a bit too cool. Other than that, I was fine with my lack out outerwear...

... until we got to Chicago. It was snowing. And in the 30s. And blustery. When we stopped to let the dogs out, midway, on our car trip to St. Louis, I was bare-legged (with a skirt) and had only a t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt over it. Both Jan and I begged the dogs to quickly pee and poop. They weren't completely cooperative, but I can't blame them. They'd been cooped up crates and were thrilled to be able to walk around and sniff. 

 Here's a 6-word memoir that pays homage to my favorite kind of shoe--especially when traveling.

Hose off Crocs... They're good again. 

Here is one about a delicious dessert we had. Some of their food was so rich, it wreaked havoc on our digestive system. One of our hosts called helva a "bomb" due to its richness. My stomach agreed... and yet I still could not resist.

Helva: heavenly-tasting, hell on intestines

How about you? When did you pack for a trip in a way that caused you regret? What foreign food can you not stay away from? Curious minds (like mine) want to know. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Break & a Marvelous Movie...Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 98... and a Scary Writing Critique Group Meeting

     My Spring Break begins in a few days. It will be delightful to have some time off, but I won't be lounging around watching TV and eating bonbons. I'm going on another quick trip to Turkey to rescue some golden retrievers. Pray for the passengers in the plane, that I don't fall asleep and snore during the flight.

       Also, I got to see the movie The Darkest Hour. It was wonderful. Gary Oldman did a fabulous job as Churchill. The film made me want to read his memoir (if he has one) or a decent biography about his life.     

And now, onto back-of-the-book blurb business. Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on meditation positions? Is it a photo collection of mentally-ill patients and where they choose to sit? 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. If you'd like to read my review of The Write Man, Lisa's most recent novel, you read it here.  Lisa nudged me into reading her first romance novel... and then I read the next two in the series. She's that good of a writer.
     
          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 Cure for Crazy

     Mrs. Higginbottam still loved teaching, even after 49 years. When the teachers around her had smarboards and computers, she still had her trusty green blackboards and a paper gradebook. Those things never failed!
      Her students thought their teacher was whackadoodle. If they whispered, Mrs. H shuffled up and down the aisles and yelled. If they laughed, her face turned beet-red and she'd stomp her feet and twirl around like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil. When the teacher wasn't lecturing the class, the kids were hunched over their desks furiously working.
       The kids were stressed out. Some of the kids started biting their nails down to the quick. Some started pulling out patches of their hair. Some started muttering under their breath.
        After one of the kids saw his mom meditate, a light bulb lit up. Maybe some mantra-muttering would make them calmer? But would Mrs. Higginbottam let them do it? (150 words)



      Plus, something weird happened at this week's writing critique group meeting. I always hope that everyone's opinion of my piece is favorable. Nobody wants to hear five other people say, "That story stunk!" However, I don't get nervous as the group reads my work. If they don't laugh at the funny parts or understand the story, that just means I have to do more revising.

    But this week I shared a synopsis I've been working on. It's for a manuscript I've worked on for more than a year. The piece means a lot to me. 

     As they read, I almost snatched it out of their hands and said, "It's not ready to share yet," I was that anxious.

     It's crazy when our writing makes us crazy.

And Val, here is the photo for the next back-of-the-book blurb:




      
       

Monday, March 26, 2018

Been Downtown...Turkey Bound... and Six-Word Memoirs

On Saturday I marched downtown with a couple friends and 10,000 others. because I'm a teacher, I've had to go through "active shooter" training. On my classroom door is a floor deadbolt lock that if activated, would prevent the door from opening for an intruder. I've been through countless "intruder drills."

Something has to stop the mass-shootings. I'm hoping the young people can make less of a mess of the world than we did.

At the march I saw senior citizens all the way to stroller babies. People of all races and all generations came together to say, "No more." I saw many wonderful signs, some of which I cannot post. I don't want to lose my job, and I know my students are always trolling the internet looking for signs of me. If you'd like to see my favorite one, send me an email. Warning: It is a bit "colorful"...

However, here are few I especially liked:


photo by Sioux




photo by Sioux



photo by Sioux

I did not take this picture--it was from the Philadelphia march--
but I did see a few "Now You've Pissed Off Grandma" signs at the St. Louis march.

       Soon I will be returning to Turkey to rescue 3 or 4 golden retrievers. Pray (for the people around me) that I get an aisle seat, since I get up frequently during long flights. 

       Here are a couple of six-word memoirs that indicate what I've been up to over the weekend:

Vegging out on movies... so lazy.
(I saw The Darkest Hour recently, along with The Shape of Water and The Greatest Showman. I enjoyed each one immensely.)

Life or greed--which matters most?




Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ribbons... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 97

This week all the sweating (sometimes literally) and toiling and collaborating and printing and rubber-cementing collided. All of the kids' science fair project boards are finished and are now on display. 

One of my 8th graders was thrilled he only got a 3rd place ribbon, because that meant his project would not have to be lugged to the local, city-wide science fair. I know. A middle-schooler who's reluctant to shine in the academic limelight? How odd she said, sarcastically.

 One of the 5th graders, on the other hand, was thrilled with his 2nd place ribbon. His mom came to check out the projects, and he proudly showed off his work.

Last year I only worked with the 6th-8th graders. This year I'm working with the 4th-8th graders. The work I did with the 4th-5th grade teacher this year was not as seamless as I would have liked. Next year, we'll begin our expository writing early--way earlier than the official science fair project work. The students will choose a general topic and then will do the research and writing work so that when they begin their science fair project, the hard part (for most of them) will already be finished.

Lessons learned... always a good thing.

And now onto back-of-the-book blurb business. Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book of fashion trends? Is it a photo collection of mentally-ill patients and their clothing choices? 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. If you'd like to read my review of The Write Man, Lisa's most recent novel, you read it here.  Lisa nudged me into reading her first romance novel... and then I gladly read two more of her books, which is monumental, because I despise romance novels. However, Lisa Ricard Claro's writing is so engaging, she hooks me. To follow Sally Field's example, I like her... I really, really like her (and her writing).
     
          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:





Darryl's Dollies

       Some snarked about Darryl's clothing. He dressed in polyester dress pants, a ruffly tux shirt and high-top tennis shoes--wherever he went.
        Some townies talked more about his behavior. Darryl's mouth's always moving. He never stopped talking. Newcomers erroneously thought there was one of those blue tooth devices hooked around his ear and that he was talking on the phone to somebody. Not so. Darryl's best audience was Darryl himself.
        But if people were invited to Darryl's for dinner, it was the dolls that did them in. 
        They were everywhere. Many were perched on shelves, standing ramrod straight, permanently awestruck--eyes wide open--with happy smiles plastered on their porcelain faces. Dolls seated in miniature rocking chairs. Dolls lined up like soldiers along the walls, standing at attention on the floor.
         What's with all the dolls? Are they memorializing Darryl's mom? 
         Darryl's neighbors plan an intervention to get to the bottom of things... (150 words)

   


And since I'm trying to get back into posting twice a week, here is the photo that will be the cover for the basis for the next back-of-the-book blurb:


Monday, March 19, 2018

St. Patrick's Day, Six Word Memoir and More

photo by Austin Steele
This dog looks confident enough to pull off the beads, the
bandana and the beanie, don't you think?

photo by Austin Steele

Every year a huge St. Patrick's Day Parade goes through my school's neighborhood. This year, I was enjoying the parade from friends' house. They had a room porch and most importantly, a bathroom.

These are photos taken by Post Dispatch photographer Austin Steele.


photo by Austin Steele
This is the crowd in front of my school.

The parade inspired my six-word memoir this week:


Green seas...and rivers of beer-pee.
(I counted the hyphenated words as one word. Arrest me.)


And now onto the "more" part.

Lisa Ricard Claro nominated me (along with other bloggers) for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Here are the grueling requirements:

1. Thank the writer who nominated me. Thanks, Lisa.

2. Answer the questions. (Read the answers below if you need bathroom reading material.)

3. Nominate other bloggers for the award. (See the list at the end of this post.)

4. Write the same number of questions for the blogger who nominated me. (That means 11, guys.)

5. Notify the bloggers I nominated. (I'll send them an email.)

Now, here are Lisa's questions and my answers:

What do you most enjoy about writing/blogging?
As far as blogging, I love being able to connect with people all over the country and the world. One of the writers in my accountability group is living in England (I think). I have a blogging friend who lives in India. Getting to know these people via their writing is delightful.

As far as writing, I love being able to vent through my writing. I also enjoy taking a rough piece and polishing it up until it's kind of pretty and shiny.

Where is the coolest place you've ever traveled to?
I love France (my favorite place is a small village outside of Pau, at the base of the Pyrenees) but the coolest place I've traveled to is the ground. I've been skydiving three times, and looking up and seeing the sky and looking down and also seeing the sky is beyond cool. It's scary and fabulous and energizing.

Describe your favorite snack.
Anything that's both sweet and salty is a great snack, but since I'm trying to stay away from the sugar demon, I'd choose salt and pepper pistachios--the unshelled ones.

What's the best movie you've seen lately?
That's a tough one. I saw The Greatest Show on Earth recently, and I loved it. I saw The Shape of Water a week or so ago, and was enthralled. A couple of months ago, I saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and had a wonderful discussion after the credits stopped running. 

I can't choose. Sorry.

What's your favorite season, and why?
Fall is my favorite season. The trees change color (take that, Lisa! Those palm trees never change, do they? ;) and there's a special crispness and smell when autumn arrives.

Do you believe in ghosts?
I've never seen a ghost, but my husband has experienced something, so who knows. I do know we only use 10% of our brain's capabilities, so people reappearing after they're dead, well... I wouldn't say it couldn't ever happen. 

What advice do you give but don't take yourself?
Reach for the stars. I've had a writing idea for close to 20 years--a screenplay based on one of my favorite books. However, it seems so impossible (to get permission, for one) so the idea has just gotten dusty.

If you had to choose one color, what would it be?
Green would be my color.

When was the last time you laughed?
My husband (frequently) dances around, imitating Channing Tatum or Jason Momoa. Each time we laugh together. (I might laugh a little louder than he does, but it is a hilarious moment we share.)

Do you prefer a tablet or an actual book while reading?
When I travel on a long trip, and I can bring it, I love to take a tablet. However, I fall asleep with a book in my hands most nights, and what I have as my bathroom reading are books, so actual paper and binding books are what I prefer most of the time.

If you could have one wish granted, do you know what it would be?
I'm going back and forth between a couple of possibilities, so no, I'm not sure which one it would be.

Here are my nominees:

Val the Victorian
Donna Volkenannt
Lynn Obermoeller

Here are the questions for my nominees:

1. What was your first singer/movie star crush?
2. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be, and why?

3. What was the riskiest thing you ever did?
4. What great TV show or movie have you seen recently?
5. If you had a theme song (like Ally McBeal did), what would it be?
6. If you could have dinner with five famous people--either living or dead--who would be sitting at the six-top with you?
7. What would make up your favorite meal? In other words, what dishes/foods would be on the table for your favorite breakfast/lunch or dinner?
8. What book have you read recently that you would recommend?
9. If you had to "travel" to another era to live, which one would you not choose, and why?
10. Describe a "brush with greatness" you had.
11. What do you most enjoy about writing/blogging?

            Enjoy the rest of your week.