The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, March 10, 2017

Another Bake-Off, Some Big News and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday # 51

Yesterday my middle-schoolers had another bake-off. In case you missed the earlier fascinating post on this activity, here's the low-down:

The students chose a cupcake challenge this time. (Earlier, it was microwave brownies.) Each student chose an added ingredient and wrote it down on a slip of paper. The slips were put in a bowl, and then were drawn, one at a time. The next week (this club meets once a week during our homeroom time) the groups worked on their strategies. How would they cool down the heat of ghost pepper powder in their cupcake? How would they mask the salmon (again, in a cupcake). On the third meeting, they chopped and squeezed and whisked... and then were judged.

Some of the combos (yes, that means that all of them were featured in the same cupcake) included:

  • tuna, bacon and Spam
  • lime juice, Ranch dressing and fresh spinach
  • ghost pepper powder, canned salmon and A-1 sauce
Several teachers and cafeteria workers asked the same question: What's the point?

On the day of the bake-off the kids give up their PE class, their lunch (they eat while they work), their recess and their homeroom time. During this time, there were 15 students blending (frosting) and mincing (chives) and crushing (Toxic Waste candy. They learned time management skills, because at 1:00, the judging took place. They had to work as a team, or their cupcakes wouldn't get ready in time. They had to utilized some research skills (what will neutralize the heat of ghost pepper powder?) and had to decide on some strategies, such as
  • frizzling up the Spam in bacon grease (making it more palatable to people
  • bringing sugar-free, ready-to-eat jello for their opponent (the girl who contributed the jello figured the group that got it would assume they'd get a box of Jello powder. She figured--and rightly so--the team that drew Jello would not be happy with small cartons of the jiggly stuff
  • blending chocolate frosting with the A-1 sauce for a cupcake dipping sauce
There were some surprising results. The Spam/bacon/tuna cupcake took 2nd place.(Due to the Spam, it was the one I dreaded the most.) The ghost pepper/salmon/A-1 sauce one was the #1 pick. One team served theirs with half a straw inserted into the cupcake. The unfortunate guest judges (seminary students) looked at the straws, puzzled looks on their faces, and I had to whisper, "It's not a joke. You'll need the straws." (The lime juice and the fresh spinach made their cakes a runny mess. They had plenty of baking time but never... really... set.)

As far as the big news, I got word this week that I snagged a spot in the Listen to Your Mother St. Louis show. On Tuesday I'll give you more details about the show and tickets, but needless to say, I'm excited. 

And now, what you're frothing at the mouth about: book blurb stuff.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. An informational book on car repair? A thriller about a business owner who's fed up with the hoopty parked in front of his shop? 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. A three-book publishing deal. Another novel (or two) in the works. Battling with Cathy C. Hall over the Korean children's book market. You get the picture. She ain't got time for this 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:

photo by

Larry’s Love

Larry has a zoo… a zoo on wheels.

You want a petting zoo at your kid’s birthday party? Larry’s your guy. He’ll deliver a goat, a mini-donkey and a pig or two—in his car.

Oh, don’t go thinking that Larry’s critters will get tethered up in your yard for the party. Nope. With Vagabond Zoo, children get to experience a mosh pit of fun. The farm animals roam and climb around in Larry’s car. During birthday celebrations, kids—one at a time—clamber into the car so they can get stepped and nibbled on to their heart’s content.

However, Larry’s business is putting a damper on his social life. Women aren’t impressed by his car. The paint job. The interior that’s been destroyed by Billy the Goat. The smell of the “garden gold” the animals leave on the seats.

Will love be the victor? Or will Larry’s love for his critters win? (150 words)

Author's note: When I chose this photo a week ago, I had no idea what I'd write about. However, the internet address (which I didn't see until I worked on this on Thursday night) painted on the side of the car instantly inspired me.

And for those who'd like a sneak peek at next week's photo, here it is:

photo by


  1. First, your bake-off -- I just read it to the hubster. Where were you when I was in school? When my kids were? You're an amazing teacher, Sioux!

    Second, no way am I ever competing with Cathy C. Hall at anything. She's my beloved Writing Yoda and can run circles around me. I watch and bow to her kindness, generosity, and burgeoning talent. She really is "all that!" (You'll never get her to admit it, though.)

    Third, I love your blurb. I'd turn it into a romance, of course, but otherwise the premise is hilarious. Who would play the lead role? My first thought was Jim Carrey, but that's too obvious. Who do you think could pull it off?

    1. Lisa--Thanks for the kind words.

      I think you and Cathy are alike in a lot of ways. Talent is one of 'em.

      And your idea got me thinking. I wonder if Bob Odenkirk could pull off the role? He's nerdy-looking enough, and looks enough off-kilter to be able to do it.

  2. Congrats on making the show! And on surviving the cupcakes.

    You took your tale INSIDE the car. Something I never thought about. I think I know that Billy guy...

    1. Val--Thanks. Yeah, the cupcakes were a close call.

      Where else would a petting zoo be? (And thanks for playing along. I haven't read your blurb yet, but I will once I leave this reply.)

  3. Congratulations on winning the spot for LTYM!!!
    And the cupcakes...did you really make people taste test? Any waivers signed? LOL

    1. Linda--Thanks. You ladies helped me with my story. If it wasn't for our critique group, my story would NOT have made it. And as far as the cupcakes, the kid who brought in the ghost pepper powder asked my teaching partner and me, "Do either of you have a heart condition?" because apparently the peppery powder comes with a warning. It was definitely a fun time. (And yes, we made two seminarians be the judges, and the other teacher and I both summoned our courage and tasted each one.)

  4. Oh, BIG congrats for you on LTYM!!! And what lucky kids, having you as a teacher.

    Also, I feel like Lisa's being way too nice...wonder what she wants? :-)

    1. Cathy--Thanks. I think I'm lucky having them as students.

      Yes, I'd be afraid. I'd be very afraid if I were you. She must want some HUGE favor from you.

  5. Congrats on the Mother story!
    The cupcake adventure sounds so interesting, but I'll admit to it rocking my queasy stomach first thing this morning!

    1. Claudia--Thank.

      I admit: I was not looking forward to tasting them. Surprisingly, the ones I looked forward to the least were not bad. It was the one with ranch dressing that made me declare it "the worst."

  6. I guess that was a combination of "thanks" and "thank you"?

  7. Hooray on being selected for the LTYMS! So excited for you, Sioux!


  8. Ewww, can't imagine being a judge for those cupcakes. And we'll be celebrating your success this evening, but not with spam cupcakes :-)


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