Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

View From the 5th Grade Trenches - February 2011 - Meeting Mark Hamill

A long time ago in a galaxy not so very far away, my boyfriend, dragged me to what I thought was going to be a stupid war movie.  By night's end I was bombing the Death Star with Luke Skywalker, using the imaginary firing button on the armrest of my seat.  I was smitten.  The boyfriend didn’t like STAR WARS, A NEW HOPE.  I dumped him.

Since that day I have dreamed of meeting Luke Skywalker, and last Thursday my wish came true.  The amazing Mark Hamill came to our school and spent time with our 5th and 6th grade students.  He answered what seemed like a thousand questions with generosity, humor, and graciousness.  The man is a genuine Jedi through and through.

Mark was a wonderful inspiration to the kids.  He told them to follow their hearts and they can achieve anything in this world.  Here here, Mark Hamill.

Here are a few wide-eyed revelations from the 5th grade trenches about our awesome guest:

He does so many amazing different voices.  Robyn
He loves video games and is the voice on some of our favorites.  Jerry and Fernanda
He came from a big family that moved around a lot.  Lexi and Cade
He’s a regular dad with kids.  Gage
He wasn’t popular or an athlete in school. Rylee and Kayla
He was student council president. Hunter and Alex
He’s a writer and created the Black Pearl comic.  Tyler and Kyle
He is a director too.  Rylee
He says he’s a comic book geek.  Kait
He likes the weird/cool Star Wars characters like Yoda and Darth Vader. Rian
He was the last human filming on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK with puppets and snakes.  Ava

I had a tear in my eye when Mark shared that if he were to be anything besides an actor, he’d be a teacher.  I remain smitten.

The force was definitely with us.  Thank you, Mark Hamill for being our shining star.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Time to Go Greek with PLAYTHINGS OF THE GODS

I am honored today to have author Lisa Gail Green as a guess star.  She is one of several contributors to the anthology PLAYTHINGS OF THE GODS, which gives us a new twisty POV on the classic Greek myths.  Cue the spotlight…

Leslie: Lisa, tempt me with the anthology, especially your story.

Lisa:  PLAYTHINGS OF THE GODS includes retellings of Greek myths for a modern young adult audience.  Some of the stories are a bit edgy - which I love.  Mine is called CURSED, and is the story of Cassandra and Agamemnon, if Cassandra were a modern day teenager.  Not familiar with it?  Cassandra was cursed to see the future, but have no one believe her.  That's enough to drive anyone insane if you think about it.  

Leslie: What was your path to being included in this work?

Lisa:  Some writers don't try to go the short story route, but I've always been eager to publish in any form, and in fact my first publications were poems and short stories in E-zines.  It's a great outlet for writing, and I really do credit it with helping give me enough confidence to pursue writing as a profession.  This particular opportunity came via our critique partner, Julie Musil, who passes on any paranormal calls to me.  Thanks, Julie!!  I remember being really intrigued by the idea of retelling a Greek Myth, and didn't have a whole lot of time before the deadline.  But I work well under pressure, and saw it as a challenge.  It never hurts to try, if you don't you can't succeed.  I chose this particular story because it is one of the lesser-travelled stories lately, and I worked on the play Agamemnon in college, which really left an impression on me. 

Leslie:  How can we get our hands on the anthology?

Lisa:  Why through the amazing interweb of course! Here's the link:

It will soon be available via Amazon, Apple, and B&N as well.  But if you want a chance at winning a free copy come visit my blog  and enter.  I'm throwing in a critique too, so it's a pretty good deal.  

Leslie:  What are you thoughts on the e-book format?

Lisa:  Good question!  E-books have taken off in an unbelievable way, so there is no longer any doubt as to their legitimacy.  Traditional bookstores are in danger, and Amazon has reported greater EBook sales than paperback sales.  I think it's fantastic that teens are discovering new ways to enjoy reading.  Whatever gets books into their hands I'm in favor of.  Heck - I LOVE my Kindle.  I still have a special spot in my heart for paper books, and collecting those that are my faves, but I also see E-books as an exciting step forward in the publishing industry.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Leslie!  Nice place...

THANK YOU, Lisa and congratulations.

Okay everyone, let’s hit that link and go Greek!  For another tasty treat go visit Lisa’s blog:  PARANORMAL POINT OF VIEW.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doncha Hate...

We all have the dreaded “doncha hate…” moments.  I’m sure you are familiar with those Defcon 5 high blood pressure situations that make us shriek to the skies for someone else to blame, even though we know we are completely at fault. 

  • ·      Doncha hate dropping your keys to the ground multiple times before you finally pick them up and unlock the door.
  • ·      Doncha hate leaving slightly late for an appointment and hitting EVERY SINGLE RED LIGHT.
  • ·      Doncha hate locking yourself out of the house – car – work.
  • ·      Doncha hate dropping your clean pajamas on the dirtiest part of the bathroom floor before you have a chance to put them on.
  • ·      Doncha hate totally blanking on your ATM pin code.
  • ·      Doncha hate sticking your dirty dishes in the dishwasher with the clean ones.
  • ·      Doncha hate putting on BLUE pants that you thought were BLACK.
  • ·      Doncha hate leaving your lunch on the kitchen counter and knowing it will go bad by the time you can get home to rescue it.
  • ·      Doncha hate walking downstairs without getting the thing you walked upstairs for in the first place.

These glitches in your otherwise perfect lives are not enemies, they’re friends.  Maddening moments are one hundred percent authentic.  Don’t let them win and claim your sanity. No, I say.  Sentence them to a place in your stories thereby adding a subtle dusting of realism to characters and actions.

Seriously, I’ll bet even vampires drop their keys.  What are some of your “Doncha hate…” moments?        

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writer's Rights

What is that you say?  Writers have rights?  Darn tootin’ they do.  Every artist has creative rights, except perhaps royal portrait painters of the past.  They had that sticky little beheading issue from time to time which put the kibosh on some of their creativity.  “The Queen does NOT have four chins, or a mole with a protruding hair on her left cheek.”

In my position as a teacher, I get to double-dip in my ongoing education as a writer.  Many books on methods for teaching writing are marvelous resources on the art of writing itself.

One such book is THE 9 RIGHTS OF EVERY WRITER, A GUIDE FOR TEACHERS by Vicki Spandel.  I had the privilege of attending a workshop presented by Vicki several years ago.  Not only did I walk away with fabulous lessons for my students, but thanks to her insights and love of the art of writing, I left the building a better writer.  I highly recommend this book. 

Vicki Spandel’s 9 Rights of Every Writer:
  1. The Right to Be Reflective
  2. The Right to Choose a Personally Important Topic
  3. The Right to Go “Off Topic”
  4. The Right to Personalize the Writing Process
  5. The Right to Write Badly
  6. The Right to See Others Write
  7. The Right to Be Assessed Well
  8. The Write to Go Beyond Formula
  9. The Right to Find Your Own Voice

I’d like to add two more:
10.  The Right to Give Yourself Time to Write
11.  The Right to Rip Up What You’ve Started and Begin Again Without Feeling You’ve Wasted Time

What Rights would you add?