Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tag Time

HAPPY LEAP DAY. I think I'm supposed to ask Gerard Butler to marry me.

Huge hugs and thanks to Ruth from the Out on a Limb blog for giving me the Kreativ Blogger award AND to C. Lee McKenzie at The Write Game for catching me in a game of tag.

I'm going with a hybrid of the rules of these two honors. I answered Lee's 11 questions below, but I'm kind of cheating and re-tagging the same people she tagged. I enjoyed visiting their blogs and I want you to go say hi to them as well. In a duplicitous move, I'm also passing on the Kreativ Blogger Award to the aforementioned tagees.

My rule breaking may cause the ruination the entire Internet that was expected back at Y2K. For that, I apologize.

Tag Q & A: 
1. What's the best part of reading a book you love?
I love the "point of no return," where you can't put the book down until you finish it.
2. What book(s) have stayed in your head?
LORD OF THE RINGS and PETER PAN because I want to live in either Neverland or Middle Earth.
3. If you could write one book only, what would the main character be like?
Super smart teen girl who is obsessed with astronomy and is freakishly gifted at fencing.
4. What book(s) do you love to read to your kids?
I teach 5th grade, so I love books with characters that challenge my students to look at the world or people with a filter they haven't used before. We're about to read FIGHTING GROUND by Avi, which chronicles a middle grade aged boy who joins up to fight in the revolutionary war.
5. Do you ever read books aloud to others?
I read LORD OF THE RINGS aloud to my own children before they saw the movies. I do a spectacular Gimli. It took a whole year. Currently I'm reading the amazing story, MILO, STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZE by Alan Silberberg to my class. 
6. Do you like discussing books with others?
There's nothing better than having a verbal love fest with people who felt the same way you did about a book. My work colleagues and I just savored MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson.
7. If you hate a book, do you keep reading anyway or put it away?
I can't stand abandoning a book. I've only done it once. No, I won't tell you the title because I still intend to go back and finish it. Someday.
8. What kind of books do you like best? Sci-fi, Realistic, Historical Fiction, Biography, other.
Sci-fi. Sci-fi. Sci-fi.
9. Are you transitioning into the digital age with a Kindle or a Nook or a I-Pad? Or are you sticking with those hard copies? Do you mix it up?
I mix it up. I'm always working on a Kindle book, a hard copy, and an audiobook.
10. How much do covers influence your buying a book?
I have a design background so covers are a HUGE draw for me, especially ones with a lot of complexity and a kickin' color palette.
11. Any new books you'd recommend?
I'm having a love affair with LOLA, AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins, A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis, and WONDERSTRUCK by Brian Selznick.

Tagees - Say hi for me when you go a visitin':

Official rules of the tag:
1. Never talk about fight club, oh wait...
Real #1. Post the rules
2. Answer the questions and then create 11 new questions to ask the people you've tagged. (I'll let Lee's questions stand for the double tagged blogs above.)
3. Tag 11 people and link to them.
4. Let them know you've tagged them.

Official rules of the Kreativ Blogger Award:
1. Tell ten things about yourself
2. Pass it on to six others

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

I love the Academy Awards. I've had the thrill to attend in person three times. Yes, you do feel like Cinderella at the ball. 

This year I've seen every movie nominated for best picture. You should see them too. Why...

The Artist: If you love old classic Hollywood this movie is the time machine for you. It's wholly unique, and there's a great dog in it.

The Descendants: The human condition splats out all over the screen in unexpected permutations. You haven't lived until you've seen George Clooney run in slip-on shoes.

The Help: Love the book and the movie stays true to it. 

Hugo: Magic. Pure magic. Living inside the walls of a train station and solving a mystery is right up there with flying away to Neverland with Peter Pan.

Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close: We all have to deal with death and loss. Imagine trying to cope with those issues during a worldwide trauma when your capabilities for reaching out for comfort and compassion are not wired like everyone else? Unforgettable main character.

Midnight in Paris - Fab premise. Who wouldn't want to go back in time to meet Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald among others?

Moneyball - It's a baseball movie. Need I say more?

Tree of Life - I think Terence Malick walks on water. The way he tells a story in moments and images transports you to a parallel consciousness.

Warhorse - Epically delicious. You get lost in this movie and go on the journey right along with Joey the horse.

The most cherished Academy Awards memory I have is when I watched Tom Hanks give his best actor acceptance speech for his performance in Philadelphia. He said, "The streets of Heaven are too crowded with angels. We know their names. They number a thousand for each one of the red ribbons we wear here tonight." 

The movie, Philadelphia, was one of the first to put a face to the AIDS crisis. I lost my brother, Rick, to AIDS just a few years after that. I am forever grateful to Mr. Hanks for the dignity and respect he showed in his speech that night.

Do you have an Academy Awards memory? Ritual? Way to celebrate? See you on the red carpet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

View From the 5th Grade Trenches -February 2012 - Two Questions

I need the opinion of intelligent, creative people so of course I've come to you. There are two questions rolling around in elementary education right now that I'd love to hear your thoughts about.

1. Do you think kids need to learn cursive nowadays?

2. Do you think kids need to learn the 50 U.S. states and capitals?

I said two questions, but I'm changing that to four. I can't help it. It's a teacher thing. Please explain the "why" after each answer. I don't want to tell you my thoughts up front. I'll sneak those into the comments.

"Hit me with your best shot. Fire away."

Hello new followers. Thanks for comin' aboard.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Short and Silly

Ever been to that "slap happy" place when you are overtired? Once you start laughing, everything is triple hilarious. Well that's my frame of mind right now so when I checked my spam, the list sent me into more giggle spasms. I figure everyone can use a chuckle, chortle, or snort every now and then. Welcome to my spam. 

Lint Lizard
Free Sandwich
Pajama Jeans
Belly Fat Blast
Magic Jack Plus
Sexy Liberal Show
Walk in Tub
Forearm Forklift

I'm visualizing a lizard with a fat belly on a forklift eating a sandwich and wearing pajama jeans. So wrong.

Any goofy spam landed in your folder lately?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Keep the Learning Train Chugging

As a teacher, I am a maniac for lifelong learning. I am constantly reading books and articles about brain research and effective teaching techniques. At present I'm involved in an amazing program from the Kennedy Center to integrate arts education in the classroom. It's transformative.

I have this same passion as a writer. I'm always reading craft books and devouring blogs that share writing tips and "Ah Ha" moments. The third leg of my learning trifecta in writing is conferences. Love them. If you haven't taken the conference leap, you are cheating yourself out of crazy wonderful experiences that will make your writing grow.

This last weekend I attended the San Diego State University Writer's Conference. It was fantastic. Here are ten tidbits plucked from the conference treasure chest.

  • Do advanced reading appointments/critiques -  Super advice from industry pros. 
  • Networking - Don't be shy, you'll meet fascinating new friends
  • Always have a pitch ready - Yes, an agent sat down at our table and invited us to pitch our books. Just like that.
  • Bring your first five pages and don't be afraid to go to a "first pages" critique. 
  • Style wise - Thoughts are no longer italicized
  • There is a big difference between learning how to write and learning how to be an author - business savvy matters
  • No one really know what is going to happen in the industry with the rise of e-books and indie publishing
  • In sex scenes, emotions matter more than parts
  • Try using the Meyers-Briggs personality test to create character profiles
  • In fantasy/sci-fi show an unknown object in action to teach the reader about it, as opposed to just describing it
Any tasty conference tidbits you have to share?