Friday, June 26, 2009

Journal: changes

Last week the journal topic was about music videos. Yesterday Michael Jackson died. As an elementary school student, I didn't jump on the MJ bandwagon and wear one glove and a red leather jacket. However, I have always respected his talent and influence.

For example, he is largely responsible for making music videos cool. Most people who are old enough to remember can recall marveling at the dancing zombies as they boogied to Thriller. The buzz was that the video didn't simply play during the song, but it was more like a movie--with real dialogue. Beat It was a cool video, too. It was all rough and tough. Then. Not now. Now, the supposed gangs look like a bunch of dancers, which I guess they looked like then, too. But it was cool, so we forgave them.

Certain things happen and we never forget where we were when we learned about them. A few of mine are1. when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, 2. when Princess Diana died, 3. when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, 4. when 9-11 occurred.

Michael Jackson's death doesn't fit into that category for me; although, other people across the world surely feel differently.

Journal: Fill in the blank and explain. Where were you when______?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sad news

This week has been full of sad endings in pop culture.

1. Jon and Kate Gosselin. I cried as I watched Monday night's show where they announced their intention to separate. Later I read a USA Today article that said they'd been separated for two years. What? Does that mean their vow renewal last year in Hawaii was a fraud? Or was Kate being dramatic and meaning they've lived separately metaphorically? I'm so sad for the kids and for them. No one wants to be a statistic. I'm optimistic they will get back together, though. Yes. That's how I am.

2. Ed McMahon. After years of being Johnny Carson's sidekick and hosting his own shows, the man everyone wanted to see on their doorstep holding a big check is no longer with us.

3. Farrah Fawcett. I had a Farrah doll when I was a little girl. Charlie's Angels was totally cool. The Farrah doll beat the high-heeled shoes and tight pants off of Barbie any day.

4. Michael Jackson. When I heard he'd had a heart attack, death never occurred to me. When I learned he died, the news stunned me. I was never a big fan, but I respected his work. I recognize that he changed the face of music. The man was a performer. He was the King of Pop. He never had a childhood and he never lived out of the spotlight. Since he never had it while alive, I hope he finds peace now.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Journal: See the music

A long, long time ago, this wonderful creation that is MTV came into existence. It was Music TeleVision. It showed music from the radio on tv and they called it music videos. I was sooo hooked. Not only did they have the cool dance moves and the latest fashions, but the commercials were the best on tv. I was very young at the time and didn't know most of what the songs or videos were about, but I loved my MTV.

Then my parents moved us out in the country.

Where it was too far for cable to reach.

In an era before the World Wide Web.

Up until I was in the sixth grade, we had four channels. Then Fox came into existence where I got to see The Simpsons, 21 Jump Street (Johnny Depp), and In Living Color (Jim Carrey, the Wayans brothers, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, David Alan Grier). These lively shows were the closest thing to cable I had.

Whenever I went anywhere and stayed in a hotel, I automatically tuned the television to MTV. At home, I imagined what the videos would look like. Sometimes, they met my imagination. A lot of times I preferred my version to theirs.

Today, MTV is mostly reality television. VH1 has the music videos. And you better believe I dvr them every week.

Journal: Select a song. Describe the music video that you would create to accompany it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dearly departed....

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to scrap my novel-in-progress. I've been working on it for a while and am halfway finished. However, with the move, I'd set it aside for a while.

And I lost my rhythm.

I lost the heart of the story.

I didn't care about it anymore.

This, my dears, is not good...for the novel. For me it worked out great.

I'm a Taurus. I'm stubborn. I listen to you, but it might take a while for it to sink in. My friend often expressed that she wished I'd work on a young adult novel again. (The other novel was a high concept humor for adults.) Her argument made sense because I've spent most of my life in high school. It also made sense because I already have one novel published in that genre. (Buy Glamour!) Her words finally sunk in.

The one thing I totally loved about the now defunct project was the characters. They were so much fun that I wanted to hang out with them. Well, now I am hanging out with them in every spare moment. They're just younger. I went back in time to when they were in high school. How cool is that?

Now, I have rhythm.

I have heart.

I care.

And this, my dears, is very good.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Journal: A storm is coming

It stormed today. Enormous clumps of ice dropped into my backyard. Dark clouds swept across the sky like a group of dangerous boys--if I could have crossed the street to avoid them, I would have. The lightning sizzled. The thunder sounded like big potatoes rolling across a wooden floor.

And it rained. And rained.

I hate stormy weather. It makes me want to dig a hole in the ground and hide until tornado season passes. Of course, in Oklahoma, tornado season seems to be at least six months out of the year.

I know people who love it. You probably know them, too. They stand out on their porches and watch tornadoes. They hop in their cars and hunt for them. I would need to inject a whole lot of crazy into my system before I could do either of those without freaking out.

What about you?

Journal: A storm is coming. Where are you?

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Page

On Saturday, I spoke at Hawk Publishing Group's writing workshop in Tulsa. I enjoyed this because I also had the opportunity to sit in on a few sessions. Each time I've heard K.D. Wentworth speak has been rewarding. She makes me laugh and always teaches me something.

The nugget I'll share with you today is that she said that the first page of a novel or short story should include the character, context (setting), and conflict. The conflict should be the worst problem that character can have.

That's a lot to get on the first page.

And she's totally right.

Wentworth is the coordinating judge, which means she's the first judge, of the science fiction contest Writers of the Future. There is no entry fee and the prizes are big. The contest receives about 4000 entries a year.

Does she feel obligated to read all entries? No way. There's not enough time. She claims that the easiest way to weed through the stories is to look at the first page. If the story has character, context, and conflict on the first page, she'll continue. Otherwise, she'll toss it.

Whether you enter the Writers of the Future contest or are submitting a novel or short story to an agent or magazine, make sure your story doesn't get tossed!

Read this great interview with KD Wentworth to learn more about becoming a successful writer.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jounal: Revel in the moment

No more homework! No more books! No more teachers' dirty looks!

Even as a teacher, this rhyme chanted through my mind at the close of school each year.There's something about the sound of that last school bell that is like every first kiss, favorite song, and good book. It was full of promise and satisfaction. I wanted to revel in the moment.

Journal: Write about a moment that held great emotional power.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Workshops are just ducky

Hanging out with a group of 2nd through 5th graders at Okmulgee Elementary School was a great way to spend my morning. The kiddos signed up for a summer program in which they will write their own books. Based on what they shared today, you might see them on a bestseller list soon.

Having such a wide range of ages concerned me at first, but it worked out well. I don't know what I was worried about. These students wanted to write. After all, they did sign up to spend part of their summer inside... a school... writing a book. How lucky am I to get to meet them?

I was lucky enough to get to introduce to them how "to get their ducks in a row" as far as organizing their thoughts into a story. We sang a song, read a book, and played with the basic story elements--as well as my son's rubber duckies.

Hopefully, I'll get to see some of their completed projects. The school has invited me to return in the fall to introduce the writing process to their fifth graders. Maybe I can read the finished books then.

If you or someone you know is interested in having a writing workshop, please contact me. Although I enjoy the giggles and hugs from the little ones, I also love working with teens and adults. Let me know if you have a specific area of interest, and I'll create a workshop for your need.