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My humorous thoughts about life.

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Showing posts with label stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stories. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2011

Snowdruff #AtoZ #atozchallenge

"Making Snow" By, Erica Lansky
I don't like to poke fun at my students, but one former pupil's antics are just too good not to write about. The young man came charging to the teachers with an excitement in his voice that can only be heard in children. "I can make it snow!" he said.

And snow it did. The boy leaned over the pavement and scratched his head causing multiple flakes to fall onto the ground. After he produced a heavy snow storm, a crowd of children gathered around him to see if they too could make it "snow." But alas, no one else's hair was quite that snowy.

For your video enjoyment, here's a clip from the Breakfast Club. Watch Ally Sheedy make it snow!




Tune in tomorrow for the letter T = "Taunting Siblings."






Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mom Taught Me How to Laugh


Honeymoon, 1949
On March 27, 2002, I accompanied my son to Italy for a soccer tournament. In the middle of the night, an odd alarm that we hadn't set woke us up with a single beep. I call it a good bye because early the next morning, our phone rang to tell us that my mother had unexpectedly died late that past night. Although she'd been sick, she was getting better, and no one expected a heart attack to steal my beautiful and witty mother away from this world after only 75 years of life. So, in memory of my mother, I dedicate today's post to her because her sense of humor helped to make me who I am today.

During my grade school years, my mother would often become frazzled by her "friend" Five by Five, as Mom called her. Mrs. Five by Five, five feet tall and five feet wide, had a homely daughter who she swore looked just like me. My mother's mama claws would flare as she'd spit out how I was so much prettier than the daughter of five by five.
Mama Claws

I must not have been too terribly ugly because a few years after that a carload of boys stopped next to us and cat called from my passenger side window. At least I think they were hooting at me, but maybe not. For my mother hoisted her left hand into the air and yelled, "I'm married!"

"Darn it!" The boys promptly said.
  
Florence Paull
 Mom didn't lose her humor with age, nor did she lose her ability to spit out anyone's birthday after hearing it once. In her wheelchair, she sat in the middle of the dance floor at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah party. Goofy neon necklaces covered her head and neck but she didn't bother to remove them like most elderly people would have done. Yeah, that was Mom. She was also the lady who taught my kids how to shoot straws out of paper so they could misbehave in restaurants.

I miss you, Mom, even though I sometimes sense you telling me to be careful not to trip over broken sidewalks or other messages straight from you. Are you still here or was that one bleep of the alarm your final salute? None the less, today is the anniversary of your death, so here's to you. Did you know my mom? If so, what do you remember about her?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Organizing Your Writing

I have a friend who has literally walked around for two years with an idea percolating in her head without writing a single word until the entire novel is structured and ready to go. Then there is moi. The ultimate pantser. I've tried some pre-planning for my novels but find it cumbersome, and I rarely stick to my plans anyway.

Currently, I'm enrolled in my second course at the Institute of Children's Literature with an instructor who pressures me to plan. This has been difficult at best. True, I've mapped out my work in progress (WIP), but I find myself veering away from those plans as my fingers tap the keyboard.

It's interesting to have readers sometimes comment on how they love my characters yet wonder if they are ADD. I hadn't planned them that way. :o



Recently I attended Mark Diamond's workshop on teaching writing to kids and found myself walking away with tips that are even helpful to someone like me. http://www.anyonecanwrite.com

I especially found his WOW line useful. Here's what you do:

(1) Draw a horizontal (hamburger) line across a sheet of paper.
(2) Divide said line into three equal parts. These parts represent the beginning, middle, and ending of your story.
(3) Place a star between the middle and ending of the story. This is your WOW moment. That's right! The one place where the most exciting thing happens.
(4) After jotting down your idea for the WOW moment, return to the beginning. What happened a little before the WOW moment?
(5) Next write an ending that sums up the WOW moment. You could even work out some sort of connection between the beginning and the ending because you now know what you are going to do.
(6) Finally, fill in the missing pieces of your story.

Voila!

Mr. Diamond has several books available on his site, and I was pleased to have had my school purchase all four of them for me. I especially like the one about Narrative Writing.

Being a certified pantser, I had to try this technique on a recent Monster Challenge. The competition called for a five-hundred word story about a human slaying a monster. I don't know if I'll win, but I've gotten a lot of positive reviews on my piece.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Funny Scenes in Every Day Life

After I ventured into the restroom at Cosco, I headed out with a great new idea for a comedy scene that I've since added to my work in progress (WIP). It all began when I stuck my hands into the automatic hand dryer, and I thought what would that goofy kid Slater do with this device? Next I knew, I was laughing out loud at my keyboard.

The $1,000,000 question: Do you think my scene is funny?

“Cool, Knob! Look at this.” He pointed to an automatic hand dryer with two silver slabs that faced each other. The top part had a section that curved outward to allow room for a guy to stick his hands inside. A bright yellow line did a crappy job at trying to make the machine pretty.

Slater lowered his hands into the drying machine and caused a deep swooshing sound to fill the bathroom. The motor yelled so loud, I could barely hear him speak.

“What if a guy’s hands don’t fit in this thing? I mean if he weigh six-hundred pounds or something, his fat hands ain’t fitting in here!”

“Not many people weigh six-hundred pounds.”

“But what if he some sumo wrestler or a super hero? Some guy with big old hands that wrestle alligators; he gots to dry his hands too!”

“Maybe there’s a way to push these panels out.” I patted the bottom of the machine for some sort of lever but didn’t find anything. That wasn’t good enough for Slater. He lifted his hands out, leaped onto the floor, and nosed up under the dryer. I couldn’t help but think of all the dirt on a bathroom floor.

“The floors filthy. Get up.”

Slater ignored me. “Here it is.” He flipped some kind of switch and the panels spread outward.

“I need it to dry my hands. Hope it still works.” I lowered my fingers into the dryer. Even though the panels were further apart, my hands got dry. I just had to move them around more. After I pulled them out, I rubbed the back of my dry hands.

“Hey, Knob. Watch this.” Slater lifted himself to his knees and put his head into the machine. The engine roared and noisy air shot out of the panels. The skin on Slater’s cheeks wiggled back and forth like a bulldog shaking loose jowls. As Slater giggled, he must have hit something because the panels moved inward and snapped. Slater tried to move his head out of the machine.

“It stuck, Knob. I is stuck!” As Slater opened his mouth, the dryer caught his spit and sent droplets catapulting across the bathroom floor. The inside of his cheeks ballooned out wide enough to use his face as a parachute and his eyes squinted to keep the air out. A smoky smell filtered from the machine. “Find a knob, Knob. Get me out of here!”

“Let me get help.”

“No-o-o! Some manager dude come in here and he yell!” Slater must have shouted so he could be heard over the roaring motor. “Look below! There a lever down there. Pop it!”

As much as I hated being on that dirty floor, I got on my knees and looked around for the lever. Finally I found it and freed Slater. When he stood up, his cheeks glowed red and his once centered Mohawk had shifted to the left side so that it shot out of his head like a one horned elk. Singed hair lined the tip of his Mohawk.

I hope someone will find this scene funny; but if not, I had a blast writing it!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teacher's Unions

When I was a little girl, a teamster broke my uncle's leg and caused him to carry a cane for the rest of his life. Note I said, "Carry a cane," since he rarely leaned on it as he'd race through the family furniture store. See Uncle Melvin was in business with my father, and he made the mistake of crossing a picket line. As a result, I grew up surrounded with tales about how horrible unions were and how much trouble they caused.

As a child hearing about the cursed unions, it never dawned on me to ask, "Why were they picketing?" or "What did they want?" These were adult type issues that weren't discussed with kids. Of course I have no doubt that these men were not "nice" people. After all, the picketer attacked a business owner, but I'd like to hear his side of the story. Today all the players are gone, and I'm suddenly left to wonder what exactly happened. Especially when I find myself in a union that is being unfairly targeted by politicians out for pay back.

Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has consistently funded those who support our concerns, mostly Democrats but not all. Now that Tennessee has been taken over by the Republican party, congressmen are out to destroy teachers with highly punitive measures.

For example:

House Bill 130/Senate Bill 113 would repeal the Education Professional Negotiations Act and make any bargaining by teachers in the state illegal.

House Bill 159/Senate Bill 136
would prohibit payroll dues deduction for public employees thereby making it more difficult for teachers to maintain membership in their chosen professional organization.

Senate Bill 102
would prevent the election of the teacher representatives on the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System Board of Trustees and instead make them political appointments by the Speakers of the House and Senate. I think this bill has already passed. :(

House Bill 160/Senate Bill 139 would make it illegal for the Association's political action committee to make contributions to any candidate, thus prohibiting teachers from helping to elect/re-elect legislators who have worked to improve and protect public education.

This is just a sampling of the bills floating through Nashville; there are more. As someone with an anti-union upbringing, I'm finally seeing the other side of the coin and wondering what caused the Teamsters to picket. I plan to march too.

I promise I'm not going to break a congressman's leg, but I will wear red and head to Nashville come March 5th to rally the capital. We'll be meeting at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and marching at noon. If you are able, please join us. We will be less violent than the Teamsters of the 1960s, but we will not stand quietly.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Challenger Explosion

Twenty-five years ago the world mourned the loss of seven bright explorers who boarded the Challenger. We watched Christa McAliffe prepare to be the first to teach a lesson from space and even envied her for being the one chosen. Folks tuned in to cheer Christa along with her shipmates Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, and Gregory Jarvis as they waved to the cameras and headed toward the shuttle. This moment-we'd all waited for-morphed into the moment we'd all dread when the ship exploded in front of crowds of people and television cameras.

Today's news reporters have asked us to remember what we were doing when we learned of this disaster. It's not tough for anyone who lived through this news story. The memory took root in my mind twenty-five years ago and is still as vivid as ever.

My husband and I were in an airport returning home after a visit to my sister's house. As we stepped off our plane, the airport buzzed with stories from travelers deplaning one gate over. They'd witnessed the Challenger explosion first hand when the pilot came over the intercom and told everyone to look out the window to see the Challenger taking off. The passengers watched in horror as the O ring separated causing the shuttle to burst into flames. The pilot did not speak to his passengers again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Between Shades of Gray

I know I haven't posted in a while, and my last blog discussed the colonoscopy, but something new and wonderful is upon us come March 1. Ruta Sepetys will be releasing her first book, "Between Shades of Gray," and it's already proving to be a winner. Check out Kirkus' review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/childrens-books/sepetys-ruta/between-shades-gray/

I'm talking about a beautiful and heart-wrenching story about Lina, a Lithuanian teen, thrust into a brutal environment by the henchmen of Joseph Stalin in the 1940s. Between Shades of Gray is a story of survival and love found in overly harsh conditions. This book reminded me of a classic like Anne Frank and is destined to go far!

Stalking the Bookshelves is giving away an ARC of this book at http://stalkingthebookshelves.blogspot.com/2011/01/arc-tour-between-shades-of-gray.html