The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's Time for BBF! Yah!

           Every Friday Lisa posts a photo to inspire us. Our job is to write a "blurb" about our as-yet-unwritten book, in 150 words or less. Then, link it to the other stories using Lisa's friend Mr. Linky, and read and comment on the other blurbs.

           It's amazing how much this hones the revising skills.  I know there are some who can regularly write under the word limit without much effort, but I usually have to do some major slashing and then tightening up to get it at or under 150 words.

photo by Lynn Obermoeller, a writer as well as a gifted photographer

The Mystery of Flatt Creek

           People still talked about that day at Flatt Creek.  Pauline's death was murky like the creek after a terrible storm, and the emotions were as cold as the water's flow in the early spring. 

           Pauline. Pregnant. Emotionally unstable.  Rumors  spread that the baby wasn't Virgil's...

            Virgil.  Short, stout, but formidable nonetheless. Folks avoided him when they could.  He'd already committed Pauline to the sanitarium four times...

           When Pauline was found in Flatt Creek, face down, two lives were lost. When the neighbors heard a scream that day, after the body was discovered, they wondered if there was a connection. And at the funeral, when someone commented on the long, raking scratch marks on Virgil's arm, he rolled down his shirt sleeves.

             Did Virgil kill Pauline in a fit of jealousy?  Or did Pauline finally succeed in ending her sad life? And will the truth ever come to the surface? (149 words)

And welcome to my newest follower, Tiger 75.  Are you going to join us for Book Blurb Friday?  It's fun. (I promise!)

Calling Governor Nixon

         For all my blogging friends who live in Missouri, please call Governor Nixon 573-751-3222 and ask him to uphold Prop B.  The majority of the people voted "yes" on it, and it is now in danger of being quashed.

Actually, his assistant is not taking any residential information when you call, so everyone---no matter where you live in the country---please ring Governor Nixon up.

photo by Mo's Fo-Toes

           It will only take a minute, and it just might help...

           Please pass this along, and if you don't live in Missouri, you can call and tell Governor Nixon that you know this Missouri blogger who:

  • stood in line for hours, in a river of people, right before the last presidential election. This menopausal woman with bouts of incontinence braved the port-a-potties, all to hear Jay Nixon introduce presidential candidate Barack Obama, as everyone stood under the Arch with hope in their eyes

  • teaches 3rd graders every day, and in spite of working like a dog, she still works for the dogs...

  • has seen first-hand how horrible puppy mills are, and is ashamed of what we do to dogs just to get rich.

          Thank you!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Inclined Plane---Or Raising Chickens, C. Hope Clark-Style

          Yesterday we were conducting an experiment, using simple machines. Our third graders (both classes together in the same room at the same time; our mental health examination will follow later this week!) were working with an inclined plane.  Each group of 5 or 6 created a ramp, measured the "work" that was being done, recorded data, and then would increase the steepness of the ramp.

          This work was designed to give a bit of relief to kids, who spent all morning 95 minutes answering 9 questions (no exaggeration). The state MAP testing began yesterday. And if you believe all the stories in the papers about how the blame should be placed on the teachers ("Yeah, those lazy teachers! If they just taught those kids...") or you think that the achievement is flat-lining because of incapable/uncaring students ("Yeah, those lazy kids!  If they just wanted to learn..."), think again.  

        If all the school districts in the state are failing (and they are; every school is auditioning for  the 2012 run of Man of LaMancha, because the state is dreaming the impossible dream when they set the expectations for us), can the blame be placed on the teachers, the children, or the test?  You do the math...

photo by RCAHMS

        Anyway, I digress. I'll wipe the spittle off my face, and get back on track.

         The students determined the amount of work being done by measuring the rubberband as they dragged the weight up their ramp.  And this morning, I thought of C. Hope Clark...

           In her blogshe regularly compares various tasks or activities to the writing process. Struggling with a knot in your shoelace? Hope can connect it to the writing process.  Burned your toast this morning? Hope can create a wonderful analogy about getting published, with your toast as a centerpiece. Did you have to remop your floor last night because someone tracked in some mud? Hope can help you out by telling you a story that will metamorphisize the filthy floor into a wonderful metaphor about revising...

         In fact, I think she is so gifted at it, she could blow her nose, compare the snot in the kleenex to what we "discard" as writers, and by the time you get to the end of her post, you're amazed.

          So I'm going to try my hand at it.

          The 49 nine-year olds took a ruler each time, and measured the length of how much the rubber band stretched. That's how they measured how much work was being done.

          As writers, how do we measure the work we do?  Do we solely count up the places where we've been published?  Do we tally up the hours we spend on writing every week?  Do we count up the "tasks" we accomplish every week  ( __ queries sent off, ___ submissions mailed, ___ many rough drafts started, and so on)?

         And what work do we consider the most difficult?  The students discovered that the same amount of work was being done each time (the length of the ramp was unchanged) but the work was easier to do when the ramp was gentle versus steep. What is the most difficult work you do as a writer?

        (Hope, how did I do?)