I may be a poet, but I am also a Star-Trek-loving, coulda-been-an-entomologist, show-tune-singing NERD. (Here's one of my nerdiest posts EVER. Nerds like to back up statements with evidence, such as past nerdy blog posts.)
Earlier this week, middle grade author Elissa Brent Weissman (NERD CAMP) guest blogged about geeking out at the Baltimore Book Festival. And we had two very nerdy giveaways: one hand-knitted Pi bookmark (knitting is one of my super powers), and one NERD CAMP t-shirt. The winners are: Veronica (bookmark) and Barb (tee). I'll send you an email, ladies! Meanwhile, check out Elissa's awesome post.
|Squee! Elissa is working on NERD CAMP 2.0.
The title of my book has had many iterations. Early on, the title referred to classic American novel-in-verse, Spoon River Anthology. Now it's called THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY.
Along the way, a few members of Miss Hill's fifth grade class have bitten the dust. Because "kill your darlings" is a real and necessary evil of revision.
A note from Snowball, the Queen-loving bird: Please visit our web site http://www.birdloversonly.org to purchase Snowball DVDs, shirts, and other items. Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc. is currently in need of donations in order to build a bird habitat. The sales of all DVDs, shirts, etc go towards funding this project.
Yes, the revision process transforms me from uber-nerdy mom into a character hit-woman. Here, I must share the blame...uh, credit...with many friends and critique groups who have given me feedback during the five very long years of working on this project.
|My notebook and binder from years 1-3 of working on
THE LAST FIFTH GRADE. Good thing Staples
sells binders in "ginormous." (Officially a word since 2007)
|My notes include Miss Hill's seating chart
for my fictional classroom.
One of the first to go was my spelling bee champion, a word nerd named Sheldon Brooks (or Sheldon Burgos, depending on which draft). You can see poor Shelly "X'd" on the bottom left of the seating chart, above.
Shelly would have chortled at the song "Magic Foot."
Weren't we talking about drama geeks last Poetry Friday? I think I'm detecting a theme here at Author Amok.
Shelly was one of the original 30 characters, back when the book was a collection of voice poems. (It's now down to a manageable 21. Miss Hill is breathing a sigh of relief.)
In this sonnet, Shelly's obsession with interesting words ends up biting him in the butt.
SHELDON “Shelly” BROOKS
Champion, champignon (French for mushroom),
victor, velocity, linchpin, legume:
spelling’s my forte. Each word, I adore.
I won the spelling bee in
I study words for two hours every day.
Simile, sassafras, plaice, pappillon
(that is a canine whose ear hairs are long.)
Lauding my prowess with letters and terms
I got to scan our yearbook and confirm
typos were absent, each name was unspoiled.
I verified, scrutinized, tested and toiled.
Now we are jubilant--yearbooks are here!
Then Ashlie looks at me with a smug sneer.
She points to my photo. The joke is on me.
I misspelled my name. Now I’m known as “Smelly.”
The documentary Spellbound was part of the inspiration for Shelly's character and this poem. The film is a fascinating look at national spelling bees.
Are you a word nerd? I love getting daily word etymologies from A.Word.A.Day This week's theme is fossil words, like "petard."
Have a fabulous weekend. Be heroically brave if you have to kill any of your darlings, writerly friends. Your book will thank you for it.