The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, June 16, 2017

Some Chicken Soup News... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 63

      A couple of months ago I got the news that a story I'd written had made it over the first hurdle for Chicken Soup's My Kind of America. I kept quiet so as not to jinx it.

      Two days ago, I got an email: my story was in. It made it through the final editorial round and emerged victorious.

      The story "My Ferguson" makes me proud because it tells what the real Ferguson is like. It tells the story of a community that is not one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It tells the story about a particular Ferguson family who started a business in Ferguson because they believe in their neighborhood.

      I hope that if you're a writer and you've gotten dejected because your submissions have been rejected... keep the faith. You never know. Your next piece may get a "yes."

      And now, onto book blurb stuff.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. Is it a mystery? (It sure looks mysterious to me.) Is it a romance? (Like, a romance with bad hairstyles?) Is it historical fiction? (Let's hope it's in the past and not in the present.) 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 are currently basking on the beach in Florida. Leave the sand to do this book blurb stuff? No way. (She's also working on a new novel--I'm sure--so that keeps her occupied in between applying the sunscreen.)


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 Family Affair

It’s 2016… and yet the Aquanet family is stuck in the 1980s.
Arnie Aquanet and his wife Tina went retro when they got married in 2005. Arnie loved Bon Jovi—the early Bon Jovi—so when they started their family, the kids fell right into line with mom and dad. Big hair was an everyday thing. The bigger, the better.
Getting ready for school and for work resulted in a hairspray haze that hung in the house for hours after everyone left.
The destruction of the ozone layer? Everyone has to die… they might as well die cute.
But then the government passes a law. No more aerosol products allowed. Arnie and Tina know the pump sprays do diddly-squat, so they panic.
Will the Aquanets decide to stockpile their favorite hairsprays so they can survive a few more years? Or will they find a new hairstyle they can fall in love with? (150 words)



And for those who like to work ahead (like Val and Pat), here is the photo for next week:

photo by pixabay



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Heartbreak in Turkey

Last Sunday, I got back from Turkey. My mission: to bring back 3 or 4 golden retrievers.

We succeeded. Three adult dogs and one puppy will soon be in forever homes here in America.



If you go here, you can find out more about our rescue's Turkey dogs. (The puppy went to a rescue in Illinois.)

All three of these dogs were living on the streets in Turkey. There are unwanted stray dogs and cats on every street, sidewalk and highway shoulder in Istanbul as well as the small Turkish villages and towns. It's heartbreaking.

Gatsby's much more handsome than his photo leads one to believe. He was supposed to be a guard dog for a bakery. For anyone who knows goldens, they're so friendly and have such gentle natures, you know the only thing Gatsby guarded was the bread and treats--for himself--and he probably wagged his tail and turned on the full power of his brown eyes to get people to pet him.

Yes, in Turkey there are many other dogs starving, dying of thirst, suffering from getting hit by a car and aching for some human affection... but at least these four dogs are going to have a better life. 












Friday, June 9, 2017

More Turkey Talk and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 62

        I still feel like I'm in Turkey... like a part of me remained there.

        Here are a few more photos from my trip:


The Sultan Ahmed Mosque--also known as the Blue Mosque--in Istanbul


One inside view of Ayasofya, which was built in 532 A.D. It was
first a church, later a mosque and now a museum.


One of the Turkish vets who  helps rescue street dogs


Mt. Ida/ the Devil's Footprint


My Turkish friends currently have 63 dogs and I don't know how many cats.

This is a street dog that hasn't been rescued yet.
He's not growling. He's smiling, despite his horrible life.


And now--onto to 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 romance? Is it historical fiction 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 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:




No More Men

Florence had been married and was now a widow.

Her departed husband, Cecil, left her enough money to live on for the next 70 years, which meant that a steady stream of gentleman callers kept pestering her.

‘I don’t have any need for a man,’ she thought, and graciously gave each one of them their walking papers.

‘But I am a bit chilled at night…’ so she got a pair of Boston Terriers to keep her company.

Lily and Rose never left her side. Because she was so happy, Florence started writing a column for the Philadelphia Observer.  Each week, she’d write essays on the pros of dogs when compared to men.

Will Florence ever get remarried? Or will she slowly but surely turn into the crazy Dog Lady? (129 words)



And here is the photo for next week. (And Val, you can stop your whining about only having a couple of days to write a string of reviews and a blurb. What else do you have to do during the day?)




Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Good, the Not-Bad-at-All and the Ugly

Well, I got back from Turkey late Sunday night/early Monday morning, and I'm just now getting back to St. Louis time.

I will post more about the trip on Friday, but I wanted to share a few pictures and observations now.

Turkey is a gorgeous country. I'm not sure what I expected--I think a huge expanse of desert and nothing else--but it was beautiful and green and the ocean was an incredible blue.




We spent a couple of evenings exploring the area. Mt. Ida (also known as the Devil's Footprint) is a beautiful area. At night it was enchanting.





The food was not bad at all. In fact, most of it was delicious. Every day when in Istanbul, I had this omelet. Delicious and spicy...





The ugly side of Turkey is the stray dogs and cats. They're everywhere. On the sidewalk. In the streets. On the shoulder of the highway. In the middle of the highway, terrified and not sure in which direction they should go. In the fields, thirsty and hungry.

I'll post more about my trip and the dogs we rescued on Friday. And speaking of Friday, here's the picture for this Friday's Back-of-the-Book Blurb. (Sorry Val, that you have such little time to write the reviews and the blurb. I'll get back on my normal schedule next week.) 


photo by pixabay

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Next Stop, Istanbul

I'm sorry I didn't post any book blurb on Friday, either on time or late. 

I was finishing up in my classroom (organizing-wise) on Friday, and then cooked all night for my son's rehearsal luncheon on Saturday.

Then Sunday (the 28th) was his wedding. (I'm going to ASSume I didn't make a fool out of myself, but since I'm writing this before the wedding happens, I shouldn't say anything.)

On Monday I took a train to Chicago (it's a long story why I needed to do that) and then a flight to Istanbul. I'll be in Turkey until late Saturday evening, and plan on taking lots of pictures and notes...

... Which is why I've been such a slacker when it comes to blogger. I still needed to finish my report cards (procrastination + a looming deadline = a early departure from the wedding, I imagine).

I will try to catch up on comments and posts after I return on Monday. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't get too sunburned or dehydrated while I'm there...

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: