The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, September 18, 2017

Silence is NOT Golden... Back-of-the-Book Blurb #76... and Radar's Got Some Bling

       The late comedian and activist, Dick Gregory, once said, "You must have agitation. Think about it. You put water and soap into the washing machine. If you don't have any agitation, you just end up with a bunch of dirty laundry." (This was the quote to the best of my recollection. I heard him say it on an interview that I watched on TV.)

        In St. Louis, we have a bunch of dirty laundry that has never been fully aired... and some people wonder if agitation is truly necessary.

       Since Friday, St. Louis has been on fire. Protests. Face-offs. Concerts have been cancelled (U2 and Ed Sheeran). Shops have closed down early. Malls have filled up with protesters. Business has been disrupted.

        Some people wonder if "all that" is necessary.

        I wonder what's going to work...

        Mere conversations haven't worked. Marching in the streets hasn't worked. Chants. Signs. Collaborations between communities and churches and community representatives haven't worked.

        As the Cuba Gooding, Jr. character in the movie Jerry McGuire says, "Show me the money," perhaps it might make a difference if St. Louis residents don't show the money. Back in Montgomery in 1955 and 1956, the bus boycotts worked because they disrupted business. Business-owners' pocketbooks were hurt... and a change came.

        A sign I saw (via the televised news) this weekend gave me a hard nudge. "White silence = violence." I know what they're saying. However, I might be tempted to make the plea to change "violence" to "acceptance," although I know that silence/acceptance leads to the violence.

        I am going to have to start opening my mouth...




       Before we get to the book blurb (which is late, I know, I know), I wonder: What is your BHAG? If you wonder what a BHAG is, check out my post on The Muffin. (Hint: It involves the brilliant and talented Renee Roberson.)

 And now onto our book blurb of the week.

            Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it an insider's story by Michael Moore? Is it nonfiction book about the meat industry? 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. Her first romance novel, Love Built to Last, just came out as an audio book. She left Florida temporarily, supposedly because of Hurricane Irma, 

          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: 
   
     
   


The Newest White Meat on the Block


“Not all of those wackadoodles are vegans. Some of ‘em just like to play around with knives and swords and run around in kilts and puffy shirts. And most of those crazies love meat.”


It was Renaissance Faire time. The time when women hoisted up all the cleavage they could summon… so they could put it on display. The time when lute music wafted through the woods. The time when mermaids, unicorns and jousting collided in one wacky weekend.


           Walter Theodore Franklin and Ima Knot Kidding wanted to offer a new taste sensation to lure an even bigger crowd than last year--and they found what they figured would be a winner. Unicorn meat.


They got the meat certified (by a butcher that was certifiably crazy), thanks to some plaster-of-paris and duct tape. Now all they had to do was create some delicious dishes…

… and hope for rave reviews. (149 words)






Love a Golden Rescue had their reunion picnic on
Saturday, to celebrate the families who've adopted our dogs.
The theme was "Doggywood" so the girl dogs got carnations to
clip onto their collars and the boy dogs got gold lame' bow ties.
Unfortunately for Radar's tres macho reputation, the bow tie
was so small, it was eclipsed by his ruffly fur when worn the
way it was supposed to be worn... hence the more feminine
positioning...


         For those folks who want at least a few days to work on the blurb for this week (since it's Monday already), here is the picture for the next book blurb:






Monday, September 11, 2017

Do Blondes Have More Fun?

       There's been once or twice that I've chosen a box of hair dye that's blonder than I like. I tend to go for the redder, more coppery hues. Do I have more fun for those weeks days until it fades? I don't think so.

       When I had white-blonde hair when I was younger (up to four or so) and then dishwater blond (until I was 12), I had lots of fun, but I attribute the good times to my young age.

       Our dog Radar (who has reddish-blonde hair) enjoys every minute of almost every day. Getting his nails clipped. Going to the vet for a shot. He doesn't enjoy those moments, but he more than makes up for it with his romps in the back yard and his games of fetch and his get-a-treat-every-time-he-comes-in treatment.

      At the end of the month, however, we're welcoming a temporary new blonde into our home, and here she is:

      
         Winslet (the bottom left golden) is going to join us as a foster dog. She's flying in from Istanbul, but I'm sure she'll quickly learn English. 

       Hopefully, Radar will be a gentleman and treat her in a polite way.

       All four of these dogs will be coming to St. Louis in a few weeks. If you know anyone who wants to foster or adopt a golden retriever, please direct them to Love a Golden...

       ... And wish us luck. Radar can be quite, uh, exuberant.


 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Kids in Crisis... Music for Writers... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #75

        First of all, if you haven't read my most recent post on The Muffin, check it out. (You'll get to see a pig that can fly... You'll also get to see a quilt made by Lynn Obermoeller.)     

        Now away from that little bit of self-promotion... This is my 29th year of teaching. In every one of my classrooms there's been at least one kid in crisis.
  • a 3rd grader who was promised a plastic crown at an amusement park, but her father changed his mind (for no reason) and broke her heart
  • a little boy who was threatened on a regular basis with going to a foster home because of his school misbehavior
  • loads of kids (too many to count) who dealt with their parent's addiction/mental illness
            It saddens me to see adult issues being heaped upon kids. Modifications are made, interventions are held, gatherings take place and phone calls are made. We do what we're able to do... and hope for the best.

            I have a couple of students who are struggling. They each have a mountain of problems and a canyon of sorrow they're dealing with. Please send good thoughts their way...




           I recently read how a writer uses music. Unfortunately, I can't write while listening to music with lyrics. I get sidetracked and end up paying attention to the songs and forget about the writing.

           This particular writer found a song that fit the mood of his manuscript, and he listened to the same song, over and over while he wrote. It became white noise.

            That technique intrigues me. This November we're doing NaNoWriMo. I'll be doing it with 4th-8th graders. My students from last year are excited. The 4th-6th graders--who I didn't have as students last year--are a bit nervous. However, we're going to head off on that adventure together, and it will be a blast. 

            Many students want to write while listening to music, but too often, they spend more time finding songs and less time on writing. If they don't want to listen to Vivaldi or Miles Davis, I'm going to suggest they find one song and listen to it over and over.

            And now onto our book blurb of the week.

            Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a romance about a boy and his rat named "Ben"? Is it a guide for animal lovers? 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. Her first romance novel, Love Built to Last, just came out as an audio book. Also, she's currently dealing with an unwanted guest named Irma, so think good thoughts for her as well...

          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:



Bryce the Unbearable

Bryce was a brat. He was spoiled rotten and everybody knew it except for his parents.
His teacher drank every evening and on the weekends, she OD’ed on chocolate. On the rare days when he was sick and absent from school (most germs were too weak to land on Bryce) his teacher shrieked with excitement.
When they saw Bryce loose and wreaking havoc on the sidewalk, the neighbors ran back into their homes, locked their doors and stayed away from the windows--in case Bryce was tempted to barge in or felt like lobbing around rocks. All the aunts, uncles and even the grandparents avoided Bryce.
But his parents thought he was “destined for greatness” and felt limitations would stifle his creativity.
Will Bryce live to be five? Or will his mom and dad finally find the banks of the River Denial and climb out of the water? 147 words





And if you want to play along next Friday (or Saturday, if I have computer troubles like I had last night), here in the photo for the next book blurb:




Monday, September 4, 2017

Just Six Words




        At the beginning of the school year, my students worked on six-word memoirs. The 4th-8th graders all created slides that summed up their lives or said something important--in just six words.

        The above is a slide I made last school year. It sums up what I feel about footwear. Much to my daughter and granddaughter's dismay, I value comfort way over style. If the shoes are butt-ugly but feel like slippers, I'm all over them.

        Today is Labor Day. To celebrate the holiday, I'm taking it easy working hard working at procrastinating as long as possible before I write my lesson plan for Tuesday.

        How would you sum up your philosophy of life in just six words? You could even think of two, which is what I suggested to my students: think of a serious one and think of a humorous one. (They made them anonymously, without their names on the slides, so they would feel free to be honest.)   

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Thread Runs Through It... Catching Up... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #74

 A Thread     

       Almost a year ago (in November, during NaNoWriMo) , I began writing something. It was easy (the writing part). It wrote itself at times. The research part, on the other hand, was incredibly difficult at times, because my manuscript focuses on a historical event that our country tried to sweep under the rug for decades. Now, most of the survivors are dead... it was that long ago.

      Just recently I finished it. Finished--meaning I wrote the last lines. However, there is slang I need to check (Did people say that in 1921?) and way-of-life questions I have. (Is that a kind of gum that was popular back then? What did racist white people say or what did they do when they passed black people in those days?)  Revising with those things in mind will involve some interviews with an elderly person (someone more elderly than me, for those who were about to gleefully shout, "But YOU are old, Sioux.")

      A little less recently, I decided to have a thread of a question running through the story. I have the final frayed edges of that thread at the end. It will be simple to add additional bits here and there in the middle. It's the beginning that's slaying me.

     How do I add the beginning of this question so that it's a seamless part of the story? Certainly, I don't want to do a background dump. I also don't want anything to stick out, since it might give the end of the story away. 

     I could share it with my writing critique group, but I'd rather have it as polished as possible before I do that.

    Writing. When it sings, when it flows, there's not much finer... When I reach an impasse, it's quite frustrating.

Getting Caught Up

     Yesterday I could have gotten off work at 2. We had a faculty meeting, and when it was over, most of the staff skedaddled off. I had stacks of student work (some of it had already been graded). Spending the time grading writing work, writing replies (some of the papers were friendly letters) and inputting grades was satisfying. By the time I left at 6, I had three piles of papers, one for myself and the other two for the other two teachers I work with.

     It's satisfying... until the work piles up again.

     Is there anything you've gotten caught up on? 

     And now (on time this time): back-of-the-book blurb business.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a romance about a boy and his rat named "Ben"? Is it a guide for animal lovers? 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. Currently, she's working with the director on casting for the movie version of her first (of three) romance novels, Love Built to Last and it's rough workWho's the frontrunners, you ask? Benicio del Toro. Viggo Mortensen. Jason Momoa. (Lisa told the director, "I couldn't care less about hanging around for the screen tests for the female leads." I wonder why...) So, because she's so busy with such grueling work, you're stuck with me.

          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:


For Margot
“Do you need to use the bathroom? If so, do it now.”
Margot would ask her husband if he needed to go… that way, she could take a leisurely bath uninterrupted. He’d dutifully empty his bladder.
Aaah. Thirty minutes of serenity.
Four minutes after Margot started her soak, invariably, she’d hear the door being pounded on.
“Get out. Hurry. I gotta use it.” That meant a smelly catastrophe was about to happen. It also meant her bath—and the only alone time she could carve out for herself in their tiny house—was finished.
After years of dealing with her complaining about not enough bath time (they only had one bathroom), Cecil decided to shut his wife up with the biggest bathtub and the biggest statue he could create.

Will Margot appreciate Cecil’s sense of humor? Or will he find himself in serious hot water? (143 words)


And for anyone who'd like to play along next week, and want a sneak preview of the photo, here it is:




  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Some Cheese and Whine.... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 73

        Grab some brie or some Velveeta... Make yourself comfortable.

       Over the weekend I received 146 no emails from throngs of people nobody wondering why I didn't post on Friday. My followers were angry thrilled. They decided to protest it was now safe to cruise the blogosphere, since I thankfully had no new post floating around.

        I meant to write my Friday post on Thursday evening. I really did. At 8:00 I flopped on the couch to watch "Love Connection" (I know, it's inane TV but I love Andy Cohen and he's a St. Louis boy and I only wanted to veg out for an hour, so what can I say?) and saw Cohen come onstage and not the first guest yet... The next thing I knew, it was 10:30 (which means I fell asleep in less than 15 seconds).

       Friday I worked until 7:30 (part of that time was spent chatting with a neighbor couple who live across the street from school) and Saturday was taken up with a foray into Washington, Missouri. Sunday morning I worked a pancake breakfast at my school, and just finished my lesson plan for Monday. 

       Tonight is a Game of Thrones night, so I will be MIA until later this evening. (Spoiler alert: One of the dragons now has blue eyes. It's now going to be wreaking havoc for the white walkers! I hate using exclamation marks, but in this case, it's appropriate.) 

        I figured I'd better combine Friday and Monday's post and stop my bellyachin'. (And before I get into what I should have covered on Friday, if you haven't seen what I wrote about what people think about writers, here is the post.)

       Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a romance about a boy and his rat named "Ben"? Is it a guide for animal lovers? 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. She took a class by James Patterson and now has 35 people working for her. (From now on, she's gonna be churning out a couple of bestsellers every year.)


          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:







Dat Man’s the Rat Man


       Edgar wasn’t repulsed by the prospect of crawling through mucked-up sewers. He thought he’d enjoy battling rodents and stray dogs in the underbelly of the city. He relished getting covered with new odors--smells that could part a crowd with a single whiff.
        So when he lost his job as a trash collector, ol’ Edgar started his own business. He became a  rat catcher.
        When he could trap them, he sold the rodents to those herpetological freaks. They were always looking for mice and rats to feed to their slimy snakes. When he had to shoot the suckers, he skinned ‘em and tanned the tiny pelts.
        A vest made from rat fur would be so stylin’.
        Will Edgar stumble, business-wise, and step into something that is so horrific, even he’s disgusted? Or, will he squeak by all the authorities and come out on top? (143 words)

  

Since I whined so much earlier in this post, perhaps you'd like to subject me to some whining? Have at it. And for those who think there's a slim chance I'll post on time this Friday, here's the photo for the next blurb: