Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Busted our Guts in the Library!

After my visit with the Senior Kindergarteners and 1st and 2nd graders at Sacred Hearts Academy Lower School earlier this year, Ms. Taylor, the Library Media Specialist, asked me if I would return to make a presentation to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students.  They were going to be writing and publishing stories and she thought they would enjoy hearing from an author and publisher.

I was thrilled to have been asked to return and set about planning my presentation.  Unlike my visit with the younger students, where I read my book and we dressed up like the characters and reenacted portions of the story, this would take a little more planning.  I had a feeling that nine, ten, and eleven-year-olds were going to be a tougher crowd.

So, I put on my thinking cap and tried to think back... way back... way, way back to the days when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I was in grade school.  I remembered that the best visitors were the ones who engaged the students with hands-on or brains-on activities.  I took my cue from them and planned an activity and a few back-ups -- because you just never know what's going to work.  I was happy to receive a positive response from Ms. Taylor when I presented my plan to her.  Now it was time to face the crowds... I mean classes.

The students were very welcoming and attentive as I told them a little bit about myself and my book.  Then we talked about writing to "show" rather than "tell" readers what is happening in a story.  They were happy to participate when I asked them for examples.

"The roses were the color of blood," said one student.  I thought I was dealing with sweet little girls here!  I did love the comparison though.

"His ears were as yellow as the sun," volunteered another student as we made up a story about two aliens in love.  So that's what attracted our alien Planeta to the cute Johno Deppo.  It was very silly and tons of fun.  And we hadn't gotten to the gut-busting part yet.

Our next activity was to complete a MadLib together.  The students were not allowed to read the MadLib until the end.  I asked them for the appropriate words (adjective, adverb, verb, noun, etc.) and we plugged them into the story as they shouted them out.  It was the loudest library I had ever been in.  Organized chaos would be an appropriate description.  Ms. Taylor is a good sport!

With the MadLib completed I decided to add an extra layer of fun and ask for a volunteer to read it in an accent appropriate for the theme of the story.  Hands shot in the air and the students volunteered themselves or others to read in an English accent or like a Valley Girl or a villain.

It was gut-busting time!  By the time each MadLib was read, our faces hurt from laughing so hard.  Most of the stories didn't make sense (that was the best part!) and the accents were very upper-crusty and goofy and scary!  What a wonderful time we had together.  The kids were creative and smart and the activity was a success because they were willing to participate fully.

I never anticipated that writing my book would lead to experiences such as the ones I've had at Sacred Hearts Academy so I want to thank everyone there for putting a permanent, face-hurting smile on my face.  What I do know now is that I don't want the fun to stop.  I can't wait to see what's next! 

Hold onto your guts!  Below are the MadLibs as completed by each class as well as the winning entries in the "Finish that Story Contest" where the students were asked to use one of the MadLibs as a prompt and write another paragraph to continue the story.  Kids are so COOL -- and honest!  Congratulations to all who participated and especially to the winners!

Until next time... stay cool!


So You Want To Be a Villain?
It is not easy being a pudgy villain in a sea of fairy mushroom-mothers, magical ballerinas, and orange princes and princesses.  To be a really successful villain like Count Justin Bieber or Nancy the Wicked Unicorn will take practice and the right tools. First, you’ll need a really noisy laugh, since you have to cackle alongside the most evil witches and horrible strudels.  It is also recommended that you hire some evil henchmen like Natasha or Brad Pitt to help you steal golden crayons or kidnap wealthy schnitzel-makers.  And, of course, you’ll need a place to hide out. A dark, psychedelic cave is good, but so are rigid alleys.  Follow these directions and you will certainly become a really sparkly, world-famous villain!

Our 1st Place winner KP continued the story like this:
Every wizard loves this wand because it’s easy to use!  Husbands can make their wives talk less and wives can make their husband do everything!  This can also help you be smarter at school. A simple tap on the head makes you smarter, or dumber!  Side effect may include you to be dumb, die, get hurt, bark and other terrible things! Buy this Now!

How To Throw a Party
Here is a list of bananas to make throwing a tubular party as easy as one, two, 9,712,345!
1. Boring Food. Choose things that everyone likes to eat, like pizza or fried bubbles.  And make sure you have an assortment of toilet soda to drink!
2. The Right Music. You’ll want to pick songs that are creamy.  Try to select bands that everyone knows, like Mandi’s Band or the Jumpy Dolls. Most importantly, choose music that’s easy to lick to!
3. Bumpy Decor.  Making the witch look right is a big part of the night! Hang lots of toe nails from the ceilings and walls, and have warty favors for everyone.
4. The Perfect Guest List.  Of course your squirmy friends have to be there, and maybe even the cute worms  you’ve had your ear lobes on in school!  Just make sure your guests all get along clumsily or a fight could really ruin your Ala Moana!

Our 2nd Place winners CA and IY continued the story like this:
To throw the perfect party, you need clogged toilets and plenty of beans. For entertainment you should have games such as Flubby Turtles.  You need amazing gourmet food like fancy acorns. You will need jiggly goody bags for your guests when they leave. Remember to always climb at your guests throughout the whole watermelon.

Our 4th Place winner SL-B continued the story like this:
After the warty favors were passed out everyone went home. There were still extra fried bubbles left over, and the creamy songs were everyone’s favorite hot tunes. The most fun part of all was Mandi’s band and the jumpy dolls.

Our 5th Place winner P continued the story like this:
5. Parents. Make sure your parents don’t bug you and that they don’t know you have a party. Wait until they go on a trip or go out. Make sure to not wreak too much or the most important stuff. Only wreak a small amount of lame stuff. Clean up. Don’t worry, make sure you have a clean-up plan so you don’t get in trouble. Buy extra garbage bags.

Magic Wand For Sale
Are you a wizard, a fairy godmother, or an entomologist looking for a magic dog that can do it all? Do you need to turn frogs into birds or make pandas fly or have an evil witch vanish into a puff of smoke?  Well, look no further!  This is the wand that can do anything!  That’s right-the Wandinator 2000 is here! Hand crafted from the finest clowns, this is the same wand that the famous wizard Paige uses.  With the Wandinator 2000, you, too, can change a pile of worthless zombies into valuable brains.  Tired of wands that are fergilicious and wear out too fast?  The Wandinator 2000 is guaranteed to last 6,892 years or your vampires back!  Act now and get a free disgusting carrying case.  Don’t miss this glamorous opportunity.  Buy it now!  Gold, silver, chocolates, and credit cards accepted.

Our 3rd Place winners JF and K continued the story like this:
But wait!  We’ll give you some blood for your vampire.  But Wait!  We’ll double this offer. This is a $75 product, but you will get it for just 100 chocolates.  Call this number NOW! (679) 108-324 Call before it’s too late.

Princess Seeking Fairy Godmother
Wanted:  One goofy godmother needed immediately for Isabella, a very slimy young princess with a purple personality.  Applicant must have at least 1 kazillion years of greasy experience helping princesses or other royal flowers live up to their cow and making their monkeys come true.  The ideal candidate should be able to turn pumpkins into planets and mice into rodent bones who are capable of pulling oversized mouse guts.  Since the princess enjoys ballroom snoring with gushing princes, expertise in waltzes, polkas, and piggies is a must.  Salary will be paid in golden dancing ballerina pigs - as many as you can carry in your armpits.  Please apply as happily as possible!

A Royal Fairy Tale
Today was the most barf green day of my entire life!  When I woke up this morning, I was a regular frog like everyone else.  But then I found out a hairy secret.  I was biting through the closet where my mom keeps all of our carrots and I found a baby picture of me wearing a shiny, swampy tiara.  When I asked my socks why they had dressed me up like that, they finally told me the rubbery truth:  I’m actually a royal Titanic!  It turns out that my dad is the son of the King of the jail, which makes him the prince of the jail and me the princess of the jail.  My parents moved here to get away from the funky life, but they say I have the right to live my life like a true pie if I want to.  And do I want to? You bet your puddles I do!

A Royal Fairy Tale Part 2
Now that I know I’m a royal doggie, I’m going to live stupidly.  I’m not going to ride my hairy bike to school anymore; I’ll have a driver pick me up in a stretch hippopotamus instead!  And I’ll never have to take out the cream cheese or wash the elephant again!  Maybe the mayor will ask me to cut the bananas at the dedication of our new spunky building.  And since Taylor Lautner and Isabella are both subjects of my country, I might even get to invite them as my spikey guests for a fat dinner!  I’ll ride on the magical float in the Queen Elizabeth Day Parade, sing the “Whale Spangled Banner” at the Funny Bowl, and even give a speech at the Mercedes Awards!  But the best part is that maybe I’ll get to be friends with the very creepy Prince Johnny Depp of Hollywood.

Mademoiselle Floofy
I have the most furry pet ever:  Mademoiselle Floofy Von Ooga-Ooga!  She’s a beautiful platypus with floppy ears.  I got Mademoiselle Floofy when she was 1,952,476,000 months old.  She was so tiny! I worked hard training her, and now she is completely mustache-broken and knows a lot of highly imaginative, chubby tricks.  She can sit and plank and she knows how to dance on her back eyebrows.  Mademoiselle Floofy loves to eat pizzas, and she’ll do anything to get some!  Her best friend, a mule named Miss Hamana-Hamana, lives across the street, and I take them both to the gooey park to play when it's nice outside.  And at night when I read a tangerine in bed, Mademoisell Floofy curls up on my intestines and falls fast asleep.  She’s the best pimple a girl could ever want

Besties For Life
I met my BFF when we were both 1 million years old, and since then, we’ve been like two peas in a lovebird.  We met in drama class.  She helped me learn my gooey lines, and I taught her how to speak with a smelly accent.  After class, we bonded over French geese and milk shakes, which we both love! Back then we used to ride our moose around the neighborhood and play with beautiful dolls, but now we spend our time shopping at the forest and watching movies starring Taylor Lautner, our favorite actor.  At weekend sleepovers, we flew to our favorite music, read our handsome magazines, and talk about the psycho boys we like. And we love to make chocolate chip teeth!  We tell each other our deepest sheep, and I know I can always count on her to be there!  I’m lucky to have such a really loopy best friend.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back to our Youth; Authors Playing Tag

A few days ago I received a tweet from my friend and fellow indie author, Patricia Paris.  Patricia is a lovely lady and my virtual-sash-wearing sister (sorry, inside joke!).  She is a romance author who has published several five-star books and has at least one more in the works.  Please visit her on Twitter @PatriciaParis1 and on her blog at http://patriciaeparis.com/wordpress/?p=221. 

Although I ran as quickly as I could, her tweet tagged me in a game of Lucky 7 Meme.  She must have heard from my other author friend, Scott Bury, (@ScottTheWriter) that I'm slow... a slow runner, I mean.

Okay, I'll play.  Here are the rules:
1.  Go to page 77 of your current WIP (work in progress).
2. Go to line seven.
3.  Copy down the next seven lines or sentences as written and post them to your blog or website.
4.  Tag seven authors.
5.  Let them know they've been tagged.

I don't have 77 pages in my book yet so I decided to go to page 7 for my lines.  These are from my WIP (untitled), a middle-grade fiction that I hope to release sometime this summer. 

"That's okay Mrs. Mays, we can't stay very long.  Scotty and I have a mystery to solve."

"Oh, that sounds very exciting, boys!  What kind of mystery?" she asks.

"Didn't you hear about Barnaby Q. Percival?  I don't wait for her answer.  "He's gone and he left his squeaky toy behind."

"Well that's not like Barnaby at all; that mutt wouldn't take two steps without that slobbered-up old thing."

Because I write for children, I've decided to tag seven indie children's book authors who are fellow members of The Independent Author Network.  Tag, you're it!  Now write a blog post using the rules listed above.  Don't forget to tag seven other authors.  Have fun!

David Anthony

Pauline Brasch

Bill Breckenridge

C. A. Chicoine

Cindy Meyers-Hanson

D. Robert Pease

Susan Ross

I look forward to reading your seven lines!

Until then... stay cool!