The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2.5 Days of Wonderful, Outsmarting My Dog and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 72

       Yes, this week included the first two and a half days of school.

       I was a bit nervous, because this year, instead of only working with the 6th-8th graders, I'm working with 4th-8th graders. However, no longer will I be teaching any sections of social studies. This year, instead, just literature (reading) and language arts (writing).

      That's a heavenly position, in my opinion.

      And for icing on the cake: the younger students are just as delightful as my older ones. They're quirky and willing to take a risk and have loads of writing potential. (We're working on six-word memoirs... and those kids came up with some wonderful ones. The first week!)

     As far as Radar... My 78-pound furball has a favorite ball. When I got out to play fetch, I take the green and the yellow one. I alternate throwing. Every other time, it becomes a game of keep-away. I toss his yellow one. He brings it back and drops it near my feet thirty feet away. I toss his favorite one (the green one) and he gallops around the yard showing it off, refusing to give it up. He bumps me in the leg with it--and then darts away with it.

     I'm so proud. I've outsmarted my golden retriever (and you know what they say about blondes and their intellect). Now I only toss his lesser-favorite one. Over and over. Radar keeps racing back, hurling the ball to me in his eagerness to get his prized green ball. Oh, rest assured: it's still not smooth sailing when it comes to those slob-covered balls. Radar jumps on me (often) trying to get the green one out of my hands. But I manage to evade til the last throw--and only then do I toss his prized green ball. (Then he prances around for a while with it, but by that time, I've gone in.)

    Now--book blurb time.

           Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a guide for nudists? 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, so you're all stuck with me. (Big-time novelists have many important things to attend to. European book tours. The talk-show circuit. You know. Or maybe like me, you don't.) 


          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:





Old Yeller Marley
Old Yeller Marley. With a name like, the family was sure they’d have a marvelous life with their new puppy.
Oh, they hadn’t seen either of the movies—Marley and Me or Old Yeller—but they figured if a movie was made about a dog, it must have a happy ending.
And the puppy was free. Free to a good home.
Things started out great. Old Yeller Marley was a cuddler. He romped his roly-poly butt around the house. But soon, things went south.
The puppy chewed things up. He destroyed things. Marks from his tiny toenails were all over the place. He peed everywhere and pooped in some extremely inconvenient spots.
Will Old Yeller Marley outgrow his bad habits? Or will his owners start frothing at the mouth, go rabid with rage and tell the cute canine, “You are dead to me”? (141 words)
 

      For anyone who wants to play along, here is the book cover for next week:



     
     This Saturday (today) I will be Love a Golden's trivia event. Tomorrow (Sunday) I will be at the new Half-Price Books in St. Charles, Missouri (along with Radar). What are your plans this weekend? Curious minds want to know...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sequels Are Sometimes...

        I loved the movie Fargo. With that movie's last scene (it was close to the very end), Fargo became not only a place but a verb.

      "I'm gonna Fargo you," meant my husband was getting dangerously close to getting put into the wood chipper.

       The series has been out for several years, and I resisted... until recently. The first season was okay (but had spectacular music). I loved the second season (also phenomenal music--Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" was featured on one episode).

        This coincides with me reading Barbara Robinette Moss' memoir Fierce. Her first one, Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter, is one of my favorite books. (It has the most compelling beginning. Seriously.)




       Initially, I got Fierce simply because of the author. I doubted it would be as good. However, this memoir picks up during her adult years and it's wonderful.

        So, do as I say, not as I do. Don't be so resistant of a sequel or a remake or a second novel/memoir that you miss out on something wonderful... 

        Some of them are great.

        And if you need to kill your inner critic, read my post on The Muffin.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Birth Certificates, Books, Viggo and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #71

         Something incredible is going to happen on January 2, 2018. I'm going to get my birth certificate.

        Oh, I know most of you are saying, "Big deal. Doesn't Sioux already have her birth certificate?"

        Well, yes I do, but I've never gotten my original birth certificate. I've never seen it. Never got to hold it.

         But on January 2, 2018 adoptees born after 1940 in Missouri will be presented their original birth certificate. This is happening because a bill was proposed and it battled its way into becoming a law. It will have my birth mother's name on it. (I know that information.) Perhaps it will include my biological father's name. (I'm clueless when it comes to that tidbit. I'm also not too hopeful.)

         I will sooo be there, with bells on...

         On August 29 (a little closer to today than January 2) Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Kind (of) America goes on sale. I'm proud of my story "My Ferguson" that appears in this collection because 1) it's about a community I taught in for 17 years and 2) I get to thumb my nose (at the end of the story) at someone who made a very incorrect comment about Ferguson. (Secret Service: I'll be waiting for your arrival.)

      My writing critique friend Linda O'Connell also has a story in the same anthology.

       And now onto book blurb stuff. This one came so easy. I saw the photo and immediately knew what I was going to write about. It usually doesn't go that way. Usually I choose a picture that I have no inspiration about, so I can avoid working on my manuscript even longer stretch a little as a writer.

 Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a guide for nudists? 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, so you're all stuck with me. What is she busy doing? Here's what I found when trolling around on the 'net...



   
According to an article I read on the internet, Lisa Ricard Claro is working on ghostwriting Viggo Mortensen's biography. (Whoops. Since you're ghostwriting it, Lisa, perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned your name?) Apparently Lisa has a pond in her backyard and while the two of them were working on this book, Viggo decided to cool off with a dip. What a lucky lady Lisa is.

Swoon. Oh. 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:





Mrs. T  Didn’t Pity the Fools


She was tired of it. Fed up. Finally, after 27 years of putting up with it, she decided, ‘Enough is enough.’
Surfing the internet, Mrs. T came up with a plan… and the next day she executed it.
“Mrs. T, my mom wants you to call her. Today. She wants to know why I’m getting a D in language arts. She’s really ticked off at you.”
‘Your mother wants to know why you’re not honor roll material? I want to know why you refuse to put a single word down on paper, day after day…’
Without saying a word, Mrs. T walked over to Brittney, her hand striking fast as a snake, a silver flash hinting at the horror that was happening.
It took a week, and more than thirty students, but finally word got around: Mrs. T loves statement jewelry pieces… (142 words)



What kind of writing success do you want to toot your horn about? And for those who are thinking about playing along, here is the photo for next week:





Monday, August 7, 2017

50%

         A couple of days ago a local thrift store chain (Savers) had a 50% off everything. I wandered around and got a stack of books for my students, thrilled with books that were a dollar or two apiece.



  

            By the time I finished perusing and was ready to get into the check-out line, I saw the line was long. Reeeeeally long. The line had formed a huge internal U, along three sides of the store.

             As we waited, people got to know each other. We chatted. A woman and her (probably) four-year old daughter was right behind me. Behind her was a woman my age (old as dirt). The three of us talked as we moved forward a foot or two at a time. We waited in line for an hour before we got to the cashier.

            Then it hit me: hundreds of people came for a decrease of 50%. What about an increase of 50%? When would that be a welcome thing?

             50% of the time I usually spend on writing every day--on a day when I don't think I have the time to write--could that be a good thing? There were a couple of days this week when I was too busy to write (or so I thought). Normally I spend at least an hour a day writing, so on those busy days, I squeezed in thirty minutes. 50% is better than 0%, right? 

              So how about you? How do you play the percentage game? And on another related note, do you shop at thrift stores? If so, what have been some of your favorite finds?

              And try it. On a day when you aren't planning on writing, try writing for just 15 minutes, or a half hour... and see how far you can get in that short time frame. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Misconceptions and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #70

         



              I hate chihuahuas. I really do. They're small, they yap a lot, and they're ankle-biters. 

             However, I discovered I like chihuahua mixes. This is my half-sister's dog (Chloe) and she is a cutie. She's an odd-looking dog, which probably accounts for part of the reason why I'm so fond of her.

            Before I visited the Grand Canyon, I imagined there would be hundreds of people jostling at every viewing spot. In my mind, every time we stopped, there would be a crowd 10 or 12 people deep, all of them trying to see the canyon. The night before we went to the park, I even dreamed that someone pushed me (deliberately) so they could get a better look.

          We got to the park and to the canyon before the sun rose, and it was just us. No one to spoil the surreal quiet.  At various times during the day, there were one or two dozen people--at most--at each spot. At sunset, there were more people, but definitely less than I initially envisioned.

          And my final misconception for today: success can be measured only by how many books/articles/stories we've published. That's what some people want us to think, but it's so, so wrong.

         Not long ago, Angela Macintosh sent me a link to a story she'd gotten published. Not only is it raw and unflinching, she also used a clever way to organize it. (I am sooooo going to steal her organizational idea, along with teaching my students about it.) 

         No, it's not a book. Angela won't get rich off this publishing deal. It's a slice-of-life story. But this one story could help other people who are touched by someone's suicide. She's made a difference in the world. In my opinion, that means Angela's successful. (If you would like to read her story, go here. )

          And now onto book blurb stuff...
           
            Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a guide for nudists? 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, has three different cabana boys at her beck and call, and writes while looking at a lovely landscape. What a life! Now, however, she's too busy to host a weekly book blurb, so you're all stuck with me.

           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 Four-Dollar Mystery
          Andy couldn’t figure it out. People would stop, they’d smile while they handed him money, but every donation was $4. Folks didn’t hand him a dollar. Or some change. Or a five-dollar bill. Each and every time, they gave him four bucks.
Oh, Andy was grateful for everything he got as he stood on the street corner and begged. He was desperate. Two weeks earlier, his wife and kids had gotten snatched by masked ninjas dressed in black. Every night he’d sob himself to sleep, worried he’d never see them again.
But this four-dollar mystery now eclipsed his worries. What kind of crazy was this? Every person gave the same amount:  $ 4. It was truly bizarre.
Will Andy get his family back? Will he raise enough to get karate lessons? Most importantly, will he ever figure out why he’s getting help in four-dollar increments? (a gross; 144 words)


Speaking of ninjas, if you have somehow missed watching this video of the "literal" version of the song Total Eclipse of the Heart, you can go here to see it.

And for anyone who wants to play next week, here is the photo:









Monday, July 31, 2017

I Love My Job (She Whispered)

     Last week, I was in a car with five other women/girls. Two other adult women--all 3 of us on the verge of turning 60--and two 11-year olds.



This was the back of our rented minivan when we left.
We needed lots of "stuff" for the six of us for the week-long trip.

     One of the women was talking about how much she hated her job. The other one was talking about how she was looking forward to retiring. I kept my mouth shut (feeling a bit guilty?) and simply reflected on my job... 'cause I retired and then went back to work.


Here is a shot of five of us--one of us was
"missing" when the picture was taken.


     I love my job that much.

     Now, if you're thinking that I'm in some saccharine-sweet dreamland, you'd be wrong. I've had teaching jobs where I loved my students and colleagues, but would poke pins into principal voodoo dolls every night. I've had serious struggles with occasional students. I've been driven to drink (chocolate milk) because of a few parents. But the everyday work?

     That I adore.

      And I'm wondering how many other people love their job... Am I in the minority? I imagine I am. I imagine most people hate the work they do, or at least they dislike it for the most part.

     So my questions are:  Do you love your job or do you hate it? If you're retired, what is the best part, and do you miss any part of your former job? If you aren't crazy about your job, what would be your dream job?





     



Friday, July 28, 2017

All About Ravens and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 69

        
         While at the Grand Canyon last week, I learned some things about ravens that made me admire the birds even more than I previously did.

          These fascinating birds--about the size of red-tailed hawk--fly upside down and do somersaults in the sky, just for fun. They drop sticks and then swoop down to get them before they hit the ground, in their solo game of fetch. They live to be 25-30 years old, and can make 100 different vocalizations--everything from a wolf to a toilet flushing.

          However, the most surprising thing I learned was a study they did with ravens. People wore masks with different expressions. People with a certain mask were mean to the ravens. People with a certain mask were kind to the ravens. People with a certain mask were playful with the ravens.

          Generations of ravens later, the birds still responded correctly. The younger birds--birds that had never seen people in the masks--stayed away from the masked people who were deemed as dangerous. They flocked to the kind ones and the fun ones, even though they had never encountered the people in the original study.

         Wow. What brilliant birds.

         And now onto the business of book blurb.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a guide for nudists? 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 now enjoying some much-deserved beach time--on a weekly basis, probably. (If you check out her blog and read this week's post, you can even see what she sees when she looks out the window of her writing room. Be prepared to drool. It's a lovely view.)

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 Man With No Plan


Edwin went to the Grand Canyon for the first time. He was a pantser. In his everyday life he flew by the seat of his pants, so the trip was no different. He went into the park with only the clothes he wore, a half-filled tube of sunscreen and a gallon of water.
Unaware that the terrain was quite rough in spots, he snagged up this pants, shirt and boxers until they were shredded. Having no other choice, he took them off, and then admired the view below him.
Then Edwin realized that somewhere during his hike, he’d lost his car keys.
Will he have enough water to avoid dehydration? Will he have enough sunscreen to avoid his man-bits turning into crispy critters? Will he make it out alive, or will he have to find a herd of elk to live with? (147 words)




And for Val and Pat and anyone else who'd like to play along, here is the photo for next week:



How about you? What animal do you admire, and why?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sunrise... Sunset

       Four days ago I was in Sedona. I'd been told the rocky hills were incredible to look at, and indeed they were. We stopped at place after place, on the shoulder of the road and at parks along the way into the city, and marveled at the naturally-made rock sculptures.  


      

      Three days ago I spent the whole day in the Grand Canyon. From sunrise to sunset, I was there with family to soak up the peace and the breathtaking beauty.

Here is one picture of the Grand Canyon I took. It was taken
as the sun was setting. Cameras cannot capture its true beauty.

     I apologize for not posting on Friday. I don't know what happened. We were staying at an Airbnb, and the connectivity was spotty. However, there was a night when the wifi was working fine, I created a post and scheduled it. Something screwy happened, because the post disappeared. (This Friday I'll use the same photo from the lost post.)

    During our three days in Williams, Arizona I:


  • went to Bearizona--a really well-done animal park (most of their animals are rescues)
  • took at 3-hour bike tour around part of the South Rim
  • finished reading the book The Handmaid's Tale. Okay, that has nothing to do with the soaking up nature, but it was a great read
  • discovered how the movie Thelma and Louise impacted the Grand Canyon park (there were several cars driven off the edge and into the canyon the year after the movie came out) 
  • learned a bunch about ravens (I'll post more about that on Friday) 

Going to the Grand Canyon was on my "bucket list." What is on yours?
    




      

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Grand Canyon... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 68

Today I'm at the Grand Canyon. Actually, I've been in the area all week but today (at least this was the plan at the time of this posting, which was on Wednesday) we went to see the sunrise, we took a 3-hour bike tour in the afternoon, and we stayed to watch the sunset.

So, when I don't comment on your posts, this is why.

Going to the Grand Canyon is one of my bucket list items. We (my French sister, her great niece, a high school friend, my daughter, my granddaughter) got to Williams, Arizona late on Tuesday, yesterday we went to Bearizona (a cool place) and tomorrow we go to Sedona.

We're staying in an Airbnb. The place is lovely. The owner? Not so lovely. I'm going to have a blast writing a review once I get back. And when he tried to fix the only toilet (not) I got to see a crack in someone that will probably end up making my mouth gape open as much as the Grand Canyon did. 

I'd love to know what's on your bucket list. 

And now onto book blurb stuff...

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a guide for nudists? 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 now enjoying some much-deserved beach time--on a weekly basis, probably. 

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:



Bridezilla in Buttercream

Denise was a bridezilla. She tore a path through her circle of friends, leaving them sobbing and cowering. No one escaped her wrath. Her soon-to-be-a-henpecked-husband. The minister. Her mother-in-law. Her mother. Denise screamed and cursed and tore weaves out when things didn’t quite measure up.

When the wedding day came, the body count was still only in the double digits… But then she saw the cake--the cake that was a buttercream and devil’s food replica of her. Someone had raked their finger across the red trim frosting that ran along the side of the baked bride’s gown… and there was no way in hell she was going to let that go.

“Stop the music. Everybody sit down. Now! Somebody ruined my cake, and I wanna know who it was,” she shrieked. What happens--when Denise holds the banquet hall captive to interrogate them--will surprise and disgust you. (146 words)


And for anyone who's brave enough to play along, here is the photo for next week:





Monday, July 17, 2017

Can You Do More?


        I just learned that the second dog I brought back from Turkey found a forever home. I brought back 4. One was a puppy and it went to an Illinois rescue group. I'm assuming she found a home.) Dickens' foster family fell in love with him, and Pippi has a home.

      That only leaves Gatsby, and out of the four dogs I brought along on my flight back home, he's the best one. (And no Michael, I don't think we should adopt him. Radar is enough for us.)



         Thinking about what the Turkish people do to help these dogs have a better life... Thinking about what some charitable Americans do as they do mission work in our country and abroad... Thinking about what some of my friends do--small things--to help homeless people...

       It makes me realize I can do more. I know I can get more involved (and get more accomplished) when it comes to causes I believe in.

      I also know I can write on a more consistent basis. Whining about how busy I am will not help. 

      How about you? What can you do more of?

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Super Pig... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 67


      Recently I saw the movie Okja. Was it one of my all-time favorites, ranking up there with Hidalgo and Widow of Saint Pierre and Chocolat and Love Actually and Doctor Zhivago?

     Well, no.

     But I did enjoy it.

     You might enjoy doing something silly. Or writing something a bit lighter. If a child's book titled Battle Bunny intrigues you, go here and check out my post at the Muffin.
    And if you'd like to read about how they made the movie Okja, go here.

    Without further ado, here is this week's book blurb's guidelines:

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a nonfiction piece? Is it a romance between a chef and all things pork? 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 with the piles of money she's made from her novels. Lisa's unpacking the last of her boxes and is doing her best to keep her address a top secret when it comes to Linda O'Connell. (Linda looooves 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:


   
The Unmaking of a Meat-Eater


She’d seen the movie Okja. With disgust, she’d watched the latest hot dog eating contest. Helen even reread the scary parts of Charlotte’s Web.
And she’d survived all that.
What finally drove her over the edge was a Hawaiian luau party. When Helen saw that roasted piglet getting plated, she lost it. All over her lei.
She also lost her love of any kind of meat. “I’ll never make another animal suffer because of me,” she swore. “The flesh of an animal will never again pass my lips, nor will leather shoes cover my toes.”
Helen’s husband Leroy tried to lure her back to the carnivorous side. Bacon-wrapped figs. Slow-cooked ribs, waved under her nose. He tried to tempt her with bagels topped with a schmear and some lox.
Will Helen remain a vegetarian? Or will she drag Leroy to the kale burger side of town? (146 words)



And for Val and Pat and anyone else who'd like to play along, here is the photo for next week:


What have you done playful or silly lately? Stressed-out minds want to know...