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Archive for June, 2012

This is the third book in his autobiographical series about growing up in a migrant family. The first two are The Circuit and Breaking Through all of which I read and loved. What struck me as I read this book was how hard he worked in school to become a success. I look at his life and his efforts and look at some of the kids at my school and despair. Some can’t be bothered to do any work what so ever; they sit, talk, and disrupt class.

Reading his book made me think of my own life – how people can have little, yet have such a rich life. You make do with what you have. Not that we have similar lives at all. My father escaped from communist Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) with nothing and entered the U.S. Army as an enlisted man. He never made a lot of money, but we had fun.

I think that’s why I like Mr. Jiménez’s books. I can relate to them even when we are not a lot alike. He talks about family, how close they are just as my family. He writes about his family life and work and schooling.

This would be a great book for an entire class, freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior class to read and discuss. It may push someone to work harder and strive a bit more to get better grades.

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Every now and then I get a character in my head and a story to go with that character. I write the story, but it’s not the story I wanted. So, I have to write it over again and now I have a completely different story, but it’s really a close cousin to the other one. And that doesn’t turn out like I had thought so I write another, hoping that one day it will be exactly like what I wanted to write.

One such bunch of stories came in my ‘western’ stage. I wanted to write a cowboy story. It would be serious. I ended up with Caleb Tupper, Cold-Hearted Killer, which still needs to be finished I think. Or not. Now that I write this I vaguely remember him returning home. I have to find it again. Caleb Tupper, a teenager, is framed for murder and sent to hang. Enroute to his execution, the coach rolls over and frees him, but kills the driver and the deputy. Thinking he’ll be blamed for those deaths as well, he flees and ends up joining two eccentric adventurers. Good story. So not serious. It ended up being a lot more humorous than I ever intended.

Since that wasn’t what I wanted, I wrote another one. This version is so stupid I won’t say much except I do wonder what I was thinking. I haven’t looked at it since I wrote it and when I misplaced it for over ten years, I didn’t miss it at all.

The third story came out to be a time travel/sci-fi/western. Still not the story I wanted. Next story, also sci-fi. It had the drama, but it was more sci-fi than western. Onward ho. The last one in my western stage came out fairly decent. Train crashes, murders, assassination plots against the president. Still not what I first envisioned, but okay.

All this kind of makes me wonder, why? Why can’t what’s in my head translate onto the page? Do others have this problem? Is there a therapy group?

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Class Sets

Schools buy large quantities of books.  I recently got an order in of 30 copies of ‘Son of the Mob’ and ‘The First Part Last’.  As I unpacked them and readied them for the shelves I thought that if I could write a book that schools would want their students to read I’d do pretty good.  Moneywise it would be nice, but also acknowledgementwise – educators think high enough for my book they want the students to read it.

It’s not the first time I thought this.  Since becomming a school librarian I have snuck educational ‘stuff’ in my manuscripts.  I’ve even written stories to be used in libraries except the darn technology changes and it’s outdated so quickly.  My R.L. Stine like story teaching kids how to use the card catalog and the ‘Reader’s Periodical Guide’ went out really fast.  By the time I had it ready to be sent out I was tossing my periodical guides because on-line databases were being used and no one, including myself, wanted to thumb through the paper volumes. 

Now I try to incorporate other lessons and not just the enviromental ones I keep squeezing in.  I also think of what kind of questions one can ask, a sort of student guide that one finds in the back of YA books.  Something to think more about.

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