The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

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.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Old News, New Stories and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #56

Forgive me bloggers, because I've slacked. 

It's been a week since my last post.

Oh, I could whine about why, like

  • I procrastinated finishing my future daughter-in-law's Christmas stockings (a bridal shower gift) until the last minute.
  • I procrastinated working on my students' mid-quarter reports until Monday.
  • Monday evening, I planned on working on my mid-quarters once The Voice was over. Unfortunately, I fell asleep watching The Voice on Monday, long before the last battle round ended, which meant I'd have to finish the school work on Tuesday.
That--my procrastination--is old news.

As far as the new stories, I went to a Listen to Your Mother cast meet-and-greet last night. Each of the writer-performers got up and introduced themselves. Each woman told a little about what their story was about, along with what their first record album was, what their three favorite movies are, what their first concert was, and the most important question: salty or sweet.

There's a rehearsal tomorrow, so if I don't slack next week, perhaps I'll share some great phrases or snippets from the stories. So far, I know that there's a story about someone who had "the meanest mother" and a story about motherhood that began by fostering a child. One of the women could be a stand-up comedian--she's that funny just when she's talking off-the-cuff.

The afternoon St. Louis show is almost sold out, so if you want a ticket for that one, you'd best get it soon. For tickets, go here.

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. However, she's been busy for the last few years. Currently, along with all the books she juggling in their pre-published state, she's also preparing to move--to the beach--which means she and her hubby are going to have to go into the witness protection program, otherwise Linda O'Connell will hunt them down and became a squatter* in their spare bedroom. (By "squatter," I don't mean Linda will squat down because of a too-full bladder, I mean she will move in and won't move out until the police come for her... she loves the beach that much.)

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:
   

photo by pixabay


Rufus the Crabman


Rufus Leaking loved the beach and wading in the water along the shore. He spent hours exploring the shells and the sand.


One summer, he snuck a hermit crab into the family station wagon. Rufus yearned for a pet, and Herman seemed like the perfect one. The little boy dreamed of the fun he’d have with the tiny creature. They’d watch Spongebob and Finding Nemo together. They’d listen to old Herman’s Hermits records. They’d have crabwalk races in his room.


Somewhere between Sarasota, Florida and Provo, Utah a horrible stench filled the car.


It seemed Herman had scuttled his way to the big beach in the sky.

Later, Rufus invented a tank that would keep a crab alive on a cross-country trip. With his product, there’d be “No more dead Hermans.”  Hopefully Mr. Wonderful will like his business plan… because Rufus and Herman #17 are scheduled to make their pitch. (150 words)





So, I have the same questions for you:

1) What's your three favorite movies?
2) What was the first record/8-track tape/cassette tape/CD you bought?
3) What was your first concert?
4) Salty or sweet?

And just for Val, here's the photo for next week:

photo by pixabay



Sunday, April 9, 2017

The New Dress Blues and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #55

       Shopping for a formal dress--as mother-of-the-groom--is almost as bad as shopping for a swimsuit. In some ways, it's worse.
       
       Of course, I'm not going to have to take a razor to my nether-regions, nor will I have to worry about chestal coverage when it comes to a gown for my son's wedding. However, no one is snapping pictures when I come out in a swimsuit, and since this evening will be chronicled with loads of photographs, I want to look fabulous presentable unlike a troll.

      So far, these are the top contenders:

#1



    This dress has some definite advantages, the main one being the reaction it will cause in the wedding guests. Because of the sparkly sequins, I'm sure once a person stares at me, they'll start having seizures. If people can only glance quickly in my direction, that means they can't really judge me as hideous-looking... which makes this dress one of my top three choices.

#2



       This dress might move up to the #1 position as I continue to contemplate the dancing I will do at the reception. The main feature I love? That longer back part, that makes the dress almost look like the dress is coming apart, like the woman wearing the gown got her heel caught in the hem and it's getting torn off the waistline...
       ... Because this is something I probably will do. Some clothing malfunction will happen that evening. Hopefully not of Janet Jackson proportions (no one wants to see old lady boobage) but the following things could happen (and have happened in the past):


  • a slip slippage. Once, my half-slip lost all its elasticity when I was standing in line (in a crowded college room) to register for classes. I was in my 40s. Everyone else was young and cute. I had no choice but to step out of my slip and slip it into my purse.
  • an underwire revolt. Once, my underwire bra battled me and won. The wire escaped its satin encasement and sprung out, flaunting itself above my v-neckline.
  • spillage. You name it, and I've slopped it down the front of me. In public. Always at times when I had nothing else to change into. Blueberry smoothie--minutes before I started my teaching day. Ketchup/grease in a school cafeteria or restaurant (sometimes both from the same meal). Red wine (this one never happened minutes before I started my teaching day).
          Of course, I am right-this-minute busily working on bedazzling a pair of Crocs to wear to the wedding and reception. But in case I can't get them finished in time, this will be the perfect dress to wear, because if I wear shoes with even a stumpy heel, I'm going to get them caught in my dress when I dance... 'cause I dance like Elaine Benes. This dress looks like it's already ripped up...


                              You've never seen Elaine dance? Here's a few of
                                                     her performances.


     And here's #3--


     This dress might be the one I ultimately choose, because if I stand still for long periods of time, I think I'll resemble either some drapes, or a tall couch. Or if I sit and don't move too much, I might end up camouflaging myself as a love seat. 

Help me choose. Reply with your vote, so I can decide on which one is the gown of my dreams.

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. However, she's been busy for the last few years. Eating lunch with Cathy Hall. Competing with Cathy Hall over the Korean children's book market. Up to her armpits with work from her editing business. Working on her own 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:
     


photo by pixabay


Maura’s Mojo


She was told plenty of times, “You got powerful mojo goin’ on, girl.” When she was a teenager, Maura could stop somebody in their tracks… with just her unwavering stare.
It was no different with her husband Russell. Maura could usually get him to stop his aggravating antics. Stop belching on command. Stop ogling young women he clearly had no chance with. Stop digging in his ear… and then wiping it on the steering wheel.
But one thing she couldn’t curtail was Russel’s finger fondness. Her husband loved pointing his finger, and it was unstoppable.
Finally, feeling like enough was enough, Maura promised, “If you don’t stop pointing that finger at me, something bad’s gonna happen.”
And then one day Russell waggled his finger under Maura’s nose… and immediately he turned into a statue.

Will Maura undo her mojo? Or will she be happy with her tall, extra-firm man? (149 words)


And if you want to work ahead (unlike Sioux, who's working several days behind), here is the photo for next week:


photo by pixabay

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Little Limerick, Anyone?

Claudia, with her recent post that includes a haiku, reminded me that April is Poetry Month. I'm not refined enough for haiku. Something edgy? Something that borders on offensive? That's more my style...

I love limericks. I especially love writing round-robin limericks. When a certain group of writer friends get together, we ask for extra cocktail napkins wherever we're dining, and each of us writes a first line of a limerick, and then we all pass in the same direction. Each person writes a line and then passes, until each napkin has a finished limerick to share with the group.

 What is a limerick? According to one source, "a limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines only have to have five to seven syllables, and have to rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm..."




Often, limericks have made-up words (or made-up endings to words) to adhere to the rhyme scheme. Once we were in an Italian restaurant and our waiter's name was Fabio. Our table cloth was made of paper. We ended up writing a limerick for our server on the tablecloth as part of his tip. It went something like this (and honestly, I only remember the first line and the fifth line rhymes,,,The rest is made up):

There once was a man named Fabio--
Who waited on us for his jobio.
He brought food so fast--
It made us aghast.
Later, we all felt quite flabbio.

Here's a better one:

There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, "When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez."
—Ogden Nash


I'm tossing out a few first lines for limericks. You pick one, write the other 4 lines, and include it as your comment (if you'd care to). Or (probably better yet), ignore my suggestions. Come up with all 5 lines, and share with the rest of us.


  • Sweet Linda wrote and lived in the St. Lou
  • There once was a lucky gambler named Val 
  • There once was great baker named Lynn
  • There once was a sweet dog owner named Pat

Come on... It'll be loads of fun.




Friday, March 31, 2017

A Tough Room and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #54

       It was a tough room yesterday. Eighty or so middle-school students packed into one room, they hadn't had their snack yet (and it was almost 11:00)
and they were itching to shoot something down.

       Yesterday our students participated in a mock assembly of the United Nations. They represented countries that included Australia, Niger, Japan, Burma, Fiji, France and Ghana. Two of the countries from our school presented their resolutions---the way they wanted to solve a UN-worthy problem. (A middle school from Ladue and one from Webster Groves were also there.)

      The first one from our school, representing Australia, got shot down. It was a resolution concerning Aboriginal rights. The resolution was proposed, discussed, questions and concerns were addressed, and then was voted on. I felt bad for the sponsor from Australia. This was my first year doing this program, and I saw the things I should have coached her with. She'd worked hard, and had done tons of research.

      Later in the morning, the two sponsors from Ghana presented their resolution about electricity. Before they even got up, students from other schools said to Ghana, "Oh, we have a lot of questions for you guys" (because they all had hard copies of the resolutions).

      The sharks were circling.

      At one point, a sponsor from another country brought up the point, "You're proposing to pay the Ghana workers only $__, a wage that is far below the minimum wage," and inside, I cheered... 'cause I knew Ghana had done their research and their numbers were spot-on.

     When it came time to address the questions, one of the Ghana sponsors said, "Workers in Ghana only make $___ "(I think it's the equivalent of 75 cents an hour). "If we paid them more, it would inflate their economy." She had done her homework, and had even converted it into US dollars.

     Their resolution passed.

      On the bus ride back to school, I said to the student representing Australia, "I hope you don't feel bad, since your resolution didn't pass."

       Her huge grin said it all. "Not at all," she said. She'd spoken to a big group of people. She had a teacher who was videotaping her (me). She was surrounded by a blood-thirsty group of starving (they thought literally) middle-schoolers... and she'd survived.

    
My students at the Civitas General Assembly--a mock UN program

And now, onto book blurb stuff.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. An informational book on car mini Mariachi bands? A crime story about little boys who form a gang of robbers? 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. However, she's been busy for the last few years. Eating lunch with Cathy Hall. Up to her armpits with work from her editing business. Working on her own 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:


photo by pixabay


An Orange Stranger From a Strange Land


America is angry. Paris is pissed. Even the gods are sending down lightning bolts of rage.

The country that was once gifted a beautiful iron woman, cloaked in copper, might now close her borders. The country that once welcomed the “wretched refuse” from all over the world might snatch up her welcome mat.

And it’s all because of their leader.

Thrown into a crisis that rocks the entire world, this orange alien who now controls the country spends his days golfing and his nights tweeting and spewing, oblivious to the damage that’s being done to the nation.

Will the country survive? Will the leader’s duties interfere with his golf, causing him to resign? Will the people demand that the orange man goes back to where he came from--back to his gold-coated planet. Or will his thumbs become paralyzed from too much tweeting, and then the paralysis spreads to his brain? (150 words)


And for those bloggers who want a sneak-peek at next week's photo, here it is:


photo by pixabay

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For...

In my previous post, I wrote about the wonderful rejection I received. I had submitted to an educational journal (not something I read these days, and definitely not something I've ever written for). I was disappointed, but got paragraphs-worth of specific suggestions on how to improve my piece.

What I didn't tell you was a fellow teacher named Katie was the one who told me about the journal's call for submissions. She submitted a piece she wrote with another educator and--unbeknownst to me until a couple of days ago--is on her fourth revision.

Great news, right? They want it, and Katie and her colleague are fine-tuning it.

Well, it doesn't sound so great.

Reviewer # 1 loved their article. Reviewer # 2 hated it (they of course did not use such blunt words), so the two of them worked on completely revamping the piece. (With this publication, the reviewers/editors always work in pairs.)

They sent it back.


photo by pixabay


With reviewer # 3 and #4, more revisions were asked for. They worked on it and it's been looked at by a third wave of editors. Again, more revisions are being asked for.

Currently, if she is honest, my friend said, "We're on our 20th draft." She admitted that if the piece is not accepted this time, they're through. 

One of the reviewers requested more of a "how to" article. How can we teach writing? Add water and stir? Do #1, #2 and #3 and your students will be writers? Absolutely not.  

They're battling with how-can-we-voice-what's-really-in-our-hearts-while-at-the-same-time-appeasing-our-editors? In their latest draft, their piece talks about the paradigm shift teachers must make (they must think of themselves as writers and see writing as a process and not a product), that there is no laundry list of steps a teacher can take.

Will the 20th time be the one that gets a yes? We'll see...  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rejected--With Lots of Feedback, and Back-of-the Book Blurb #53

I recently submitted an article to NCTE's (National Council of Teachers of English) journal for middle school teachers. (It was my first time to submit to them.) It was an article about doing NaNoWriMo with my students. The piece was not accepted, but look at the incredible feedback I got: 

Reviewer #1: I enjoyed reading this article. The challenge of writing everyday with a word count goal is one I think I would have a hard time meeting. And, I would really like to know more about your students' response to the challenge. I have a few suggestions for revisions that I think would make your piece richer and more useful for other teachers.

First, it's a little hard to know whose story this is. I think it may be really yours and the students'. To give it more depth, I think you need to provide more detail about some very important parts of the story. I would shorten up the beginning 3 paragraphs so you can get to the experience with your sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. I would also get more quickly to the NaNoWriMo unit. Making these revisions would give you more space to explore how you and the students learned about writing, the choices you made as writers, and what you and students learned about composing in a more detailed way. For example, I'm one of those people who had to look up the Tulsa riots to remind myself about the circumstances, and you addressed how reading about it or looking old newspapers gave you new ideas for not only your writing but also as a catalyst you shared with your students. And, I wondered about the students: Did your conversations with them provide new ways of thinking about their own writing? How? The sample comments from your students are a good start. 

The experience with NaNoWriMo was intended to help students become more fluent and confident writers not so driven by form. That you shared the experience with them is a practice that has long been held as important to the teaching of writing. This challenge added a new twist, I think, to the concept in that it was not only daily but also focused on writing a significant amount every day. I'm not quite sure yet about the significance of what you learned about yourself as a writer or "how tightly-knit [your] community had become."

I'll end with a couple of last thoughts. You have a really pleasant writing voice. You hold yourself up to a writer's mirror and assess yourself with honesty and hope. What you need to do now is hone this story and make every word count--you don't have that many to use! 

Reviewer #2: I think it would be powerful to start the article with what you were noticing in your classroom with your current students. Try beginning with paragraph 3 on page 1. Starting with your own Nano experience and then moving in to comparing your old and new school distracts from the point of this article: what happens when teachers write with their students. Focusing in on this experience from the beginning will strengthen your point. I found the first two paragraphs distracting and am not sure how they support the overall idea.

I'd also like more explicit reflection on how a teacher writing with students changed the experience for the students. I love that you used student voices. The quotes are powerful. But now expand on those. If I, or any teacher, am going to try this out in my own room I need to know why I should. In the abstract you ask how writing with students might impact the teacher...but I'm wondering if you might talk more about how it impacts students.

The article as a whole is mostly narrative. I would encourage you to weave in some research on teachers as writers. More reflection and more explicit explanation about how each interaction with a student caused a change in his/her thinking about writing might be another thing to try. You talk about moving around the room, sitting by different writers, and give snippets of conversations you had. How did that kind of teaching, as opposed to not writing with them, change the students view/understanding of writing?


Wow! Of course, I'm disappointed they didn't fall in love with it and snap it up. However, I am so appreciative of the feedback. Maybe I'll get closer to an acceptance the next time I submit to them.

And now, onto this week's book blurb :


Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. An informational book on historic neon signs? A crime story about gamblers in a flashy desert city? 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. However, she's been busy for the last few years. She's gotten published a three-novel series, and currently, is taking over the Korean children's book market. Watch out! She has sharp elbows and even sharper ideas. If you get in her way when she's on a writing roll (or if she step in her path when she's on her way to see the movie Beauty and the Beast) she might just jab you with those deadly elbows.

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:



photo by pixabay
Viva Las Vegas


Elvis Presley’s alive. He’s not a hunka-hunka burnin’ love anymore but he does eat hunks of bread, deep-fried and still burnin’ hot. He might choose to wear :blue suede shoes but why bother? He can’t see his feet these days. And when he dances in his own kitchen, alone, his belly jiggles so much, it resembles a milk shake that’s getting all shook up in the blender.


When he goes shopping (which he does rarely), people have a little less conversation and make a lot more snide remarks. Don’t be cruel, he insists inside his head… but he never says it out loud.


He doesn’t live out loud, either. Elvis is forced to wear disguises and live like a recluse.


Presley decides enough is enough. He’s 82 now, people were fooled into thinking he died almost forty years ago, so it’s time to reveal the truth…


… in Las Vegas. (150 words)

And here is next week's photo, if you would like to let your ideas percolate:


photo by pixabay