The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Phone Call, an Audition and Back-of-the-Book Blurb Friday #49

This week I had an incredible encounter on the phone.

For months (literally) I have been emailing and calling a man who works at the National Museum of African American History in D.C. His grandfather typed up a 10-page first person document of a bit of our history that we've swept under the rug for almost a century. I've seen the cover page on the internet:  its yellowed pages and faded ink taunt me.

This man's voicemail box quickly filled up; I could no longer leave a message. My emails remained unanswered.

Yesterday I called during my prep period, figuring it would be another bit of momentary frustration. Miracle of miracles, he answered.

We spoke. Since he has donated his grandfather's document to the museum, there are several of his colleagues who would love access to it. He said he would check with the curator, he suggested some books, and I was left encouraged... and hopeful.

And the audition? I got an email this week--I am one of the 30 writers chosen to audition for the Listen to Your Mother St. Louis Show. Three of my writing critique partners--Linda O'Connell, Lynn Obermoeller and Kim Lehnhoff--also made the cut. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all four of us make it.

And now, onto book blurb fun...

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your book. You choose the genre. A time travel tale, where a fun-loving group of hooligans try to reenact Thelma and Louise's trip? A how-to book explaining how to refold travel maps?  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 brain behind this project. She's got her own editing business. She's gotten a multi-novel publishing deal... and now that those three books are out, she's working on more. Check out her site. You'll enjoy her posts and you'll learn something.

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 and the blurb:

photo by pixabay

Back in Time… Into the Darkness

Because of technology, amazing things now happened.
The iphone 27 has time-traveling capabilities. With a swift swipe, the camera captures what the person--or the scene--looked like decades ago.
A couple wants to remember what they looked like on their wedding day fifty years ago? Just aim the phone their way, and there the bride and groom would be, their unwrinkled faces smiling in the screen.
A family wants to recall what their family neighborhood looked like when they moved in ten years ago? An easy feat with the new phone.
The police are even using them to recreate--with 100% accuracy--a crime scene. There’s no need for security cameras now. Just make the correct time setting, point and shoot… and they can see who did the shooting.
But now the phone’s being used for sinister purposes… it’s being used to do heinous things. And there seems to be no stopping it... (150 words)

And for those writers who like to work ahead and toil on their reviews (like you, Val), here is the photo (from Pixabay) for next week:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Random Autobiography

My students wrote random autobiographies a couple of weeks ago. On Friday the kids had a writing buffet, which meant they got to read several of the poems written by their classmates, after which they commented on them via written feedback. Their poems were mind-blowing. For most of them, it was their best writing so far.

In case you've never written a random autobiography, here are the rules:

  • The way you order/organize your memories should be random. The moments in your life should come zinging out at the reader, in an unpredictable, willy-nilly order (not chronological). 
  • The piece usually ends up a free verse poem.
  • Other than those uptight, rigid rules... there are no rules.

Below is a poem I wrote as a model for them.

When I was four, I loved dogs so much,
when I got a bad staph infection
and we had to give all my stuffed animals
and our dog Duchess away,
I cried.

For years…

For years I’d look out my bedroom window
and yearn for another dog...

we got
another dog,
we named her Lady.

After that, my crying for a dog stopped,
and I’ve had a dog ever since.

Sledding down the hill when I was 10,
I loved dodging the trees
as I flew like a rocket.
Snow in my boots,
my mittens caked with ice and muddied snow,
I’d sled for hours.

The danger was part of the fun.

Riding a bike when I was 12,
I’d think about riding with no hands.
I wanted to be just like the cool kids,
with their hands up in the air
while they coasted down the street.
I’d lift my hands off the handlebars
for just a second
until scared,
I’d grab them again
and hold on tight.

There were some dangers I dared to do.
Others, I was too chicken to even try.

When I was nine I spent a whole day in a cave.
Sliding down clay-slick hills,
crawling through cramped spaces,
exploring the cool pools of water.
That night, my mom threw away the clothes
I’d worn in the cave.
The reddish-brown stains had become permanent,
a reminder of my underground fun.

When I was 6, I took a tour at Bonfils Elementary
on my first day of 1st grade.
The teacher said to our class,
as we stood in the hall,
“Here is the lavatory.”
My eyes got as round and big as pie plates.
A science lab!
A place to do experiments!
I was antsy with excitement,
until I learned that lavatory
was just another word for a bathroom.

When I was 8,
I went up and down my street
on my skates.
The key hung on a dingy, frayed shoelace
around my neck.
After I took the skates off,
I could still feel the vibration,
my feet thrumming over the cracked sidewalk
even though the skates were put away
in the closet.

Skating made me feel free…

When I was four my grandfather spanked me.
It was the first and only time.
I didn’t listen to him,
didn’t use the fudgsicle wrapper
to catch the drips,
and he got mad.

My hard head got me into lots of trouble.

I could also write about learning to ride a bike
when I was 7
and getting into an accident.
I could share how I once had a 12-foot pet
boa constrictor wrapped around me when I was four…
which made me fall in love with snakes.
I could also write about my first airplane trip to Ohio,
by myself,
when I was 12,
and my aunt and uncle got the date screwed up
and forgot to pick me up.

But no,
I think I’ll save that for another poem...

How about you? What memory or memories would you include in a random autobiography?