The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, October 28, 2016

Students on Fire... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb #32

         Next Tuesday my students--6th, 7th and 8th graders--will be starting NaNoWriMo. A few of them are not happy. (These students would be happy if they didn't write another word for the rest of their lives.) Some are willing. And some are on fire.
      Here are some of their kernels/story ideas:
  • a swarm of mosquitoes, armed with rusty needles... they're attacking and killing humans
  • a teenaged girl with an eating disorder
  • a teen who's in a coma
  • a time traveler who tries to prevent Bruce Lee from dying
  • a story of two WWI soldiers
     One 8th grader said, "I'm so excited we're doing this. I've always wanted to write a book." Others got into drawing what their main character looks like. Many of them are digging into the research and creating files labeled "NaNo." It's exciting.

    It's exciting because I never dreamed of writing a book. Never one for such lofty aspirations, I wanted instead to be a journalist. A poet. The next Emily Dickinson... without all the never-famous-until-she's-dead thing.

     When I was 13 and in 7th grade, I made people laugh with my school newspaper feature articles. That was heady stuff--getting people to chuckle over my words. But these kids. These kids are already dreaming of writing a book.

     I love it.

     So think of me in the next month as I'm writing before school and after school with my students (but probably doing more suggesting and prodding than I am writing). And keep your fingers crossed for me that I'll be able to at least get something started for NaNoWriMo. I'm embarking on a historical fiction project (which is NOT what I normally do). The only hint I'll give (and it's a big one) is that it centers around a Tulsa event in 1921...

    And now onto back-of-the-book blurb fun:

  • Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book.
  • You choose the genre. A frothy romance? (Ugh.) A tall tale? A coffee table book on statues? You choose the genre.
  • Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this project  and this past summer, her third novel Love to Win debuted. Currently, Lisa's too busy to host Book Blurb Friday anymore. She's still recovering from her daughter's wedding... still poring over pictures where she looks mahvelous and everyone else looks lovely and happy as well.
  • Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. 
  • Link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. You don't have to buy him a drink or anything. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is.
  • Check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.
  • And have fun with it. Think of it as a way to take a break from the truly important writing you do... like a bit of a warm-up.

      Here is the book cover and my blurb (as lame as it is):

The People Who Inspired the John Mellenkamp Song:  Does Authority Always Win?
The statue had been commissioned to trumpet the importance of censorship across the land. The hunk-of-a-man, made out of a huge hunk of granite, had part of his face covered in bandages, the sculptor’s nodd at subtlety. Our words, our opinions:  they should be judged and if deemed unfit, should be shushed. Our stories: censored.

But the town folk, a quiet, hard-working group, got disgruntled. Their hard, sideway glances at the towering statue… their muttered complaints… They didn’t believe in anything high-falutin’ but they also didn’t believe in anyone telling anyone else what to say, or how to say it.

One morning, the early-rising newspaper readers ventured out, and instead of the daily headlines, they found a toppled head. A headless statue, now without a brain.

The way the town covers up the true culprit turns one man into a hero… and another into a man whose life is endangered. (150 words--whew!)

     And for those two or three who like to play along, here's the photo for the next week:


  1. Great idea to focus on censorship. At first, I thought "blind justice", but the gender and placement of the bandages was wrong.

    This could turn into a Fahrenheit 451-esque story if you continued.

    1. Kim--Me, trying anything Bradbury-ish?

      No way, but thanks.

  2. Yes, censorship is bad. But I hope, Madam, that you are not promoting VANDALISM as a solution!

    1. Val--Vandalism? That's against the law, along with speeding and stealing dogs and defacing dollar bills... things I would never do.

  3. Censorship works well with the photo in an unexpected way. Love it.

    I'm excited for you with the NaNo project. Your enthusiasm jumps off the page, so I can only imagine how it feels in person for your students. You're lighting fuses, Sioux! Please keep us posted Maybe one of your students will be thanking you in the acknowledgements section of his/her published novel one of these days. :) As for your project, that sounds like a serious topic to tackle. Go for it. You've got the chops to do it!

    1. Lisa--Thanks for the compliments, but these students are such gems, they don't need much a match. They're driven and enthusiastic and passionate without much outside help.

      And it's the research that scares me. How much will I have to fake... if I can't find the documents/interviews/photos I need?

      Well, I can worry about that another day (a la Scarlett O'Hara)... like on Tuesday. ;)

  4. I love the way you interpreted this picture. I never thought of censorship for it. This would be a great started in class to discuss censorship and if it is ever right to censor someone or does freedom of speech always win out?

    1. Pat--It was the only thing that came to me. Censorship is a sticky subject. The very thing we protect (people's words) sometimes are offensive.

  5. The Tulsa Race Riot? Such fertile ground. Keep me posted on your progress, will you?

  6. MZ--It IS fertile stuff. I've seen many historians say that "riot" is not such an apt word, that perhaps "massacre" is more appropriate.

    I'm always amazed at how many adults have no idea it happened. It certainly is not in many history books...

  7. I've wimped out of NaNo. October got away from me, and I simply was not prepared. So instead, I'll spend November doing detailed plotting and structuring for my new novel, so it will be ready to write after the holidays! (My version of lemons into lemonade)


  8. Wow! As a teacher, I am sure you are amazing! There are so many respurceful and creative teachers on this blog. I am inspired by you. I try to be a kind of a tutor in my college - the most complicated thing is to grab attention of the audience. I would better write essays (but not argumentative ones. In this case, I choose professional argumentative essay writing). But yes, I must confess that your students have to estimate your work highly. Good luck and keep on blogging!

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