The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Laugh...And the World Laughs With You

        This weekend a dipping happened. My hair, which left alone, is the color of rat fur...and I'm not talkin' about the white lab rats. No, I'm speaking of the gray rats that scuttle around dark alleys in creepy movies.

       Around here, dipping is done at home. As a teacher, I don't have $100 (or more) to spend on getting my hair professionally dyed, so I look for the bargain basement stuff. Discontinued because during the testing phase, dolphins died when the hair coloring was slathered on them twelve times in the span of a week? Bring it on. Just a little stock left--and no longer being produced--because magenta is not really a "natural-looking" hair color? I'm game.

       And I am. I'm up for trying a variety of red shades. A different box, a different brand, a different shade--every time--makes life more interesting.

       Today, I provided levity for the sixth graders. While I was outside their class window at dismissal (my class--the third graders--head out the building before the older students), they were overheard talking about my blindingly-bright tresses. Since I did the dye-job on Sunday, the chemicals are still holding on for dear life. The box says one thing, but it's Russian Roulette once you squirt that stuff on your head.

        "Mrs. R did her hair."
        "It used to be blonde." (No, it was never blonde, but a lighter red. I thought a lighter shade would blend in more with the gray, but the strawberry blonde shade made the gray hairs angry, and they got unruly.)
        "Why does she dye her hair?" (I wonder. Perhaps I deal with a bit of stress during the day? Perhaps I could even name the patches of gray after colleagues/classes?)
         "What is that color called?" (There is no name for this color. The name on the box is soooo wrong. This shade makes a person speechless. Metallic Magenta is what I would call it.)

        Oh yes, I was the talk of at least one class. I gave them something to talk about. And I was happy to help...

        (You have to be able to laugh at yourself. If you take yourself too seriously, you'll miss out on lots of fun.)

         When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Pitch

         Last Saturday the St. Louis Writers Guild had a workshop on writing pitches. Since my pitches stink worse than a Major League pitcher who hasn't changed or washed his lucky socks in over six weeks, I needed yesterday's event.

      Brad Cook, the president and the workshop facilitator, shared these as crucial components of a pitch as you're writing one:

*   The hook--what is going to get the reader/editor intrigued?
*   The log line--a short, snappy line
*   The elevator pitch--a sentence 25 words or so long, which you could also    use if you are trapped in a broken elevator with an agent/editor for at least
seven hours and they're hungry and thirsty and dazed and confused and at
some point they don't have the energy to ignore you...
*   Include if it's complete or not
*   Word count
*   Who is the main character? Keep the pitch focused on the main character.
*   What is the main plot?
*   Say something about yourself

      As you're giving the pitch to an editor/agent, keep these things in mind:

  •  Stay positive. Don't say things like, "I'm not really a writer..."
  •  PracticePracticePractice--Practice your pitch aloud.
  •  Interact with the editor/agent. Don't hold the paper in front of your face.
  •  Fiction--focus on the characters.
  •  Nonfiction--focus on why you wrote the book.
  •  Your back story is not worth sucking up too much of your 5 minutes.
  •  Don't give away the ending, unless they ask (and then tell them).
  •  Be prepared to be rejected.
  •  Don't expect the editor/agent to take anything from you.

      Before I went on Saturday, I didn't have a pitch. However, as Brad was talking, I was writing and then rewriting, and came up with this pitch. I'd appreciate any (honest) feedback and suggestions you can throw my way. (Of course, if my story bores my beta reader, the manuscript won't even get out of the dug-out.)

          Lucy is Julia Roberts in Judi Dench's body. A writer,
  she deals with unimaginable anguish as she works through
  the dysfunction of her family and the fun of menopause.
  Lucy becomes unraveled and eventually redeemed through
  the fictional circle of writers, along with their essays and
  memoirs she's created. At the end, the five semi-incontinent,
  chocolate-addicted women go on a road trip trying to right a
  terrible wrong. Humorous and poignant, The S.D. Society
  is complete at 82,000 words and is part chick lit novel
  and part anthology. (I then have a couple of sentences
  introducing myself.)