The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Power of Words

          On Friday a parent toured our school. When we get a note saying something like, "There's a school tour at 11," my opinion is whatever is happening is what the family will see. I might make sure my desk is not piled too high with papers but other than that, things go on as planned.

       But in the middle of viewing and scoring our movies, the visiting parent came in. All 22 of the middle-schoolers were in the room, a movie was being presented via the smartboard, and the lights were off. 

     Usually, a tour peeks in, then steps out. But this mother and their guide stood there... and watched the movie.

     And it was an especially good one. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Photos of the 8th grader's family and friends with a simple, poignant voice-over. One picture fading into the next.

     Once that film was finished, they asked if I could step out and chat for a moment. I filled the mom in on what we do during the year--"I am from" poems at the beginning to ease into writing, personal narratives, NaNoWriMo in November, informational writing (including multi-genre pieces) and finishing up with persuasive/argumentative pieces.

    And I reveled in the power of words.

    So when I saw Shay's poem (inspired by the news) and then followed the link she provided, and I was a bit inspired. Here's the poem I came up with, after thinking about the news:


the news these days
is mostly sad

maddening

worthy--sometimes--of a froth of spittle
spraying out
resulting in--other times--streaming tears
‘cause the headline’s are so ridiculous,
they seem made-up
but they’re not

they’re not

the headlines and the fine print
are inked in black on white
and it’s bleak

but dig a fingernail under the text
and find the stories
that are either untold or buried
and there’s some hope

hopefully we can unearth all we need
so that tolerance
and understanding
and plain ol’ common decency can reborn

here’s to hope
(covered by a thin layer of filthy dirt)


What do you think of when you think of the news/the power of words? Awed minds want to know.

      

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Week and a Day and Counting... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 61

        Yes, my son is getting married in a week and a day, so forgive me for making this brief because in six days I have to be finished in my classroom, in a week we're throwing a rehearsal luncheon for 89 people, in a week and a day is the wedding and reception and in a week and two days, I leave for Turkey.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. Is it a mystery? Is it a coffee table art book? 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. Currently, she's super busy. She and her hubster sold their house in Georgia and are setting up their new house in Florida, and knowing her, she's also probably busy writing her 72nd novel. 


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:



A Scary, Hairy Past
Mr. R’s about to become Dr. R, he’s about to get married … the only thing that might stand in his way of enjoying those transformations is a murky (and hairy) past.
His patients and his hospital supervisors adore the handsome Mr. R. His dedication and attention to details, his ability to use humor to put patients at ease make him popular with the nurses. His love of life, his determination, the bond he has with his family made the love of his life agree to marry him.
Now the wedding’s eight days away. His residency is just months away. Unfortunately, someone is threatening to leak damaging photos to the newspapers.
The pictures made his mother fall to the floor in a heap, horrified. If anyone else sees these photographs from his crazy past, will her son get kicked out of med school? Will he get abandoned at the altar? (150 words)


And for those writers who love to work ahead, here's the photo for next week:



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Photos to Movies

      Perhaps you're not like me. Perhaps you are tech-savvy, and know how to do everything if it involves a power cord and gigabytes and hard drives.

      Not me. I depend on my middle school students to answer my tech questions at work, and on my husband to get me out of technological messes at home.


They say revenge is best served cold. However,
I've made a movie about my son that's so brilliant,
it's blazing-hot, and  through the movie, I'm going to get revenge for all his
childhood shenanigans. This is not even close to my son's worst hairstyle...

      But if you're interested in making a movie from your photos, I can help you with that.

      Photo Story 3 is a free download. And this time, something free is quite worthwhile...

      I've used this program for many years. It makes it easy to import photos. It's simple to move the photos around from one spot to another. Transitions. Cropping. Voice-overs. Adding music. It makes making a movie a breeze.

      This past week, I've used Photo Story 3 again to make a couple of movies: one about my soon-to-be daughter-in-law and one about my son. I've incorporated baby pictures (and lots of other pictures) of both of them and as the songs play and the images fade in and out, their toddler, elementary, high school and college years will march along until all that is left is their adult selves... about to get married. (We're going to watch it at the rehearsal luncheon.)

     Here is a tutorial if you'd like to try using the program. Here's a You Tube video if you're considering using it. But honestly, once you start with it, you won't need much help. It's extremely user-friendly. And think of how you could use it:


  • a high school/college graduation show
  • a book trailer to promote your book
  • a beginning or end of school year movie
  • entertainment for a family reunion
    The possibilities are endless.

    And since I can make movies using this program, and my dog can make movies using this program, so can you.

     How about you? I have most of my photos all jumbled up in a huge tub.  Where do you have yours, and have you made movies before? If so, what program did you use. Technologically-disabled minds want to know...



Friday, May 12, 2017

Same Thing, Different Results? and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 60

Some people say that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results.

Well, I guess you can call me crazy.

I've been submitting multiple pieces to an editor--every month--and have not gotten any nibbles. In the past, I enjoyed some success with this editor. In the past, I know other local writers who've enjoyed lots of success with this editor. But for a long time, they've gotten nothing published, either.

While at my writing critique meeting this week, I decided I'm done. I'm finished. It's a new editor, and obviously, their needs have changed. Every time I submit something, I figure This story is one they're sure to snap up and yet they don't.

It's a waste of my time (and theirs, because they have to read every submission). It's time I could spend on something with at least some potential.

Whether or not I stick to my guns remains to be seen. And if any of the pieces that I've already submitted get published, well...

I'll probably start writing like crazy again...

And now onto book blurb fun--

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. Is it a mystery? Is it a coffee table art book? 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. Currently, she's super busy. She and her hubster sold their house in Georgia and are setting up their new house in Florida. 


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:



Dancing for Love

He couldn’t dance. He tried, he  really did try. But every time Derrick shuffled onto the dance floor, the music didn’t move him.

And really, he could live without dancing, but what about Layla? Layla was the new girl in school, the pretty one, the one Derrick would like to take to the prom… except he didn’t know how to dance.

But one day he walked by a shop and noticed a poster in the shop’s window. Become a dancing machine in one easy step. Derrick went inside, paid for the package wrapped in brown paper, and followed the directions.

And it was miraculous. Derrick drank the potion, and immediately, became Gene Kelly, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Channing Tatum all rolled into one.

Will Layla fall for Derrick like a whole line of dominoes? Will Derrick’s dance skills get out of hand and become a problem? (145 words)


And for those writers who'd like to work ahead, here is the picture for next week.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Travel, Anyone? How About a Foster Dog?

In June I'll be taking a trip. Like the Blues Brothers, I'll be on a mission from God. Or, rather, on a mission from DOG (so maybe I'm the dyslexic Blues Brother).

Turkey is my destination. I'll spend a few days with a Turkish acquaintance about five hours from Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia--a church that was first built in 537 A.D. and is now a museum--is in
Istanbul. My teaching partner said it's amazing. Hopefully I'll have the time and the
opportunity to see it.


The purpose of this trip is to get three golden retrievers. In case you didn't know, there are thousands of stray dogs in Turkey, and hundreds and hundreds of those strays are goldens. Goldens don't fight back, so when dogs get into fights (as packs of hungry dogs tend to do), goldens don't last long.

Golden rescue groups in Atlanta and Michigan have been working together for the last few years to fly whole pallets of dogs (in crates) to the U.S. Individuals flying--and escorting 2 or 3 dogs--is a less expensive option.

We're always looking for foster homes--homes that have a fence, loving homes that are willing to care for a dog for a short period of time until the dogs find forever homes.

If you know someone who'd love to love an international dog (they learn English quite quickly), have them contact Love a Golden Rescue. If you've ever been to that part of the world, I'd love any helpful tips. And if you want to read a great post about travel writing, check out Renee Roberson's post, read this. I might actually try to write something about Turkey and sell it.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Busy as a Bee, Chuck Close and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 59

This month is a busy one. The Listen to Your Mother performance in St. Louis has one last rehearsal before the show. My son is getting married at the end of the month. Our dog rescue group is having a 5K run the day before "da boy" gets hitched. My eighth graders are graduating. Of course, add report cards to the mix... and boxing up my classroom (so the floors can be waxed) and this all happens before June begins.


"Keith" by Chuck Close





       This painting by Chuck Close is one of my favorites. It's in the St. Louis Art Museum. It's huge, and looks like a photograph until you get right on top of it.

       I love it because you can see the subject---flaws and all. In this portrait, every pore, every wrinkle, every stray hair can be seen.

       When I finish a first draft and then revise it, I think I see most of the flaws. Of course, many are overlooked. Sometimes I look at a piece through rose-colored glasses. Sometimes I've labored so hard over a particular part, I feel married to it... even though I know--deep down--that that part doesn't work...

... Which is where writing colleagues come in. My writing friends are honest and talented enough to tell me when parts need to be deleted or overhauled. Over the years, I've received such wonderful nuggets of advice, resulting in my writing getting better.

How about you? What is the best writing advice/suggestion you ever received?

And now onto the book blurb stuff...


Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. A book on the history of statues? A how-to book from Bob Ross? He turned over in his grave over some recent paintings, and now--risen from the dead--has turned to sculpting. 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. Currently, she's super busy. She and her hubster sold their house in Georgia and are setting up their new house in Florida. Lisa did promise she'd make sure their new place has a great place for horses to run... I'm trying to find some irresistible bait for Viggo Mortensen, and after the movie Hidalgo, I know how much he loves to run horses along the sand... 

A picture to remind you of what Viggo looks like, in case you spot him...


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 ABC Diner

         The ABC Diner had a tri-fold menu. The A side--you could order affordable delicious food, but it would get to you slowly. The B side of the menu--you’d get scrumptious food quickly, but you’d need to get a bank loan before they let you out the door. The C side--the food was served up fast and cheap, but it tasted terrible.

         Diners got tired of too many choices. Business slowed to a trickle.

         A new manager promised a boom. “I can get with the DOT for cheap meat. I can hire an ex-prison cook, since they know how to make tough meat soft and pliable, and I can hire servers who are on meth. That way, folks will get tasty food fast, at a rock-bottom price.”

        His new business plan leads to hilarity, heartbreak and chaos… But will it also lead to success? (143 words)


And for those who like to work ahead, here is the photo for next week:




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Steady Like a Turtle



         This is one of many turtles in a sculpture park within walking distance from my school. The turtles are beyond huge, and are meant to be climbed on.

      I'm not sure if it's true, but I've heard that if you pick up a turtle in a well-meaning way (to keep it away from a road, for instance) and turn it in a different direction, it's doing the turtle a disservice. 

      Science teachers--please set me straight if I have the facts screwed up.

      What I am sure about is a turtle's progress.  They drag themselves along, slowly but steadily. It sometimes may not seem like they're moving forwards, but they are.

       I'm working on a WIP. (Hey--if I wasn't working on it, there'd be no W in WIP, right?) It's historical. It's for real (middle-graders) and I think it's the most spectacular thing I've ever written... so far. (Okay, spectacular is not what I'd call it, but I couldn't resist referencing a Seinfeld episode.)

      This is a piece I wrote during NaNoWriMo in November. I sat next to my students and worked on it every week day (and some weekends) that month. Strangely, it almost wrote itself (so far). Or more aptly, the main character is telling the story, and I'm just channeling him.  

      I'm making this public, because otherwise, I might continue to procrastinate. I have 26,000 words down, and I'm getting close to the end. By the end of May, I am going to finish with the first draft.

       Keep your fingers crossed that slow and steady means I can get to the finish line...


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Turkey Dogs! And... Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #58

Yesterday I went to to Chicago. Two cars full of dog rescuers from Love a Golden Rescue left at 5:30 yesterday morning. I got home a little after 9 later that night.

We took home 4 goldens that flew in from Istanbul. Another group that covers several states took 14.

Here are a couple of photos from the day.






      On our way home, we stopped at Wendy's for sandwiches. The four dogs got a potty break and time to roll in the grass. Three of the dogs were thrilled with bites of apple. (One held out for something a bit tastier.) All four loved french fries.

      Their first taste of truly American food...

      And now onto book blurb stuff.


Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. A book on the history of statues? A how-to book from Bob Ross? He turned over in his grave over some recent paintings, and now--risen from the dead--has turned to sculpting. 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. Currently, she's super busy. She and her hubster sold their house and are currently trying to hide from Linda O'Connell because Linda is craaaazy about the beach.

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:



Cat-Scratch Feverish Fighting

Queen B was one pampered cat. She didn’t have to scratch herself to the top of the heap in her family. From the moment she was brought home, she made her expectations clear.

Only the best tuna. No cat-grade tuna for Queen. Cream every day, served in a delicate heirloom bowl. Walls re-papered on a regular basis for her scratching pleasure. A personal fluffer on call at all times. Fresh, flown-in-from-Maryland crab on special occasions… like every other Tuesday. A private jet for visits to see her friend Morris and Grumpy.

However, when Queen B demanded (and got) a couch in the front yard so she could survey her kingdom, the neighbors complain. What will come next, they wonder. A four-story statue of that spoiled-rotten cat? A giant screen set up outside for bird video viewings? Enough is enough.

Who will unsheath their claws first--the neighbors or Queen B?  (149 words)


And for Val and Pat--sorry, you have one less day than most weeks--here is the photo for next Friday:



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It Only Takes 6...

Six-word memoirs. How would you say something of substance in only six words?

My students began working on these today and in just part of an afternoon, they came up with some amazing ones. I'll try and post some of them on Friday or next week.

But trust me, they're good.

I'm hoping some of you try writing one. (You could always leave it in the comment section.)


photo--google images


To give you a taste of what they're like, go here.

So don't waste any more time... write a six-word memoir now.

And if you want to see a photo of me that was taken over 40 years ago, go to my post on the Muffin.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun is What Makes the World Go 'Round... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 57


This is a picture of my son. (He's the one on the right.) My boy's a little over six-feet tall, just in case you think the guy who runs with scissors is normal, height-wise.

Ian plays Ultimate, which (in case you didn't know) is like soccer, but it's played with a frisbee.

He also loves to play basketball, football, tennis, soccer and volleyball. He enjoys joking with his friends and family. He's got a zest for life.

At the end of May, Ian will be getting married. After the wedding, I hope he and his bride continue on the joyous path they've started traveling on... 'cause life is too short to miss out on the delights living has to offer. 

And now, onto this week's book blurb offering:

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. A book on the history of statues? A how-to book from Bob Ross? He turned over in his grave over some recent paintings, and now--risen from the dead--has turned to sculpting. 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. Currently, she's super busy. She and her hubster sold their house to finance Lisa's latest obsession. It's Viggo. Again. Yes, Lisa is stalking Viggo Mortensen (she wants to photobomb him) and her understanding husband has agreed to take the proceeds from the sale of their house to pay for her adventure. They bought the old Partridge Family bus and are criss-crossing the country in search of the elusive actor. Since she's unable to host the book blurb bit anymore, I've taken over.

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 Solitary Man--Off the Grid

If you loved the first two books about Norman’s real life camper adventures, you’ll love the third one in the series.

Not content to merely live as a minimalist--space-wise--our quirky hermit is now transforming his living space so he can live completely off the grid.

After spending hours poring over research volumes at the library, Norman came back home and immediately boarded up all the windows of his home-sweet-home. Then, he went shopping and bought a trunkful of pork and beans. He boiled some eggs. He pickled cabbage and canned it.

With the camper as tight as a tick, and with Norman’s belly full of gas-producing food, he’s confident he’ll be able to heat his home with a regular supply of methane.

Will his plan work? Will he be able to reduce his carbon footprint through beans and deviled eggs? Read The Solitary Man--Off the Grid to find out. (149 words)  


And for Val and Pat and anyone else who wants to work ahead, here is the photo for next week:

photo by pixabay


    

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wanna Come Out and Write?


 Do you live in the St. Louis area? Do you have plans on Saturday? Would you enjoy being able to write for a few hours?


This is one of the sculptures at
Laumeier Park.


If you answered "yes" to each of those questions, come to Laumeier Sculpture Park on Saturday (4/22) from 1-4.

We're meeting at the main entrance. It's a Camp NaNoWriMo session, but anyone is welcome to join us--kids and adults.

If you come, bring a water bottle and a snack to sustain you... and remember: I have my eye on you.