Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm Wearing Red Today

Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. It is a day for people and organizations from around the world to come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic. Much has been done since 1988, but there is still so much more to be accomplished.
An easy way to support this cause is through Product RED. This campaign offers hundreds of ways to support funding to eliminate Aids. You can buy coffee, cards, clothing, and many other fun, useful items that donate to this charity.
Coffee: Starbucks will contribute five cents from the sale of any STARBUCKS RED EXCLUSIVE beverage at participating stores to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.
My favorite, Clothing: I own three (RED) shirts from the Gap to show my support for this cause (one of them pictured). I also gave many (RED) shirts as gifts last year. My children all own a (RED) shirt as well, but I noticed they don’t carry these items for children anymore.
Tunes: Select PRODUCT (RED) Special Edition iPod models and iTunes Gift Cards, and Apple give a portion of the purchase price to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.
Cards: Hallmark offers a Product (RED) line of greeting cards.
Shoes: You can purchase some sweet Converse kicks that use canvas sourced from Africa with African designs.
Check out the Product Red website for more items. Buy (RED), save lives.
Today over 5000 people will die of AIDS. Our family lost a beloved member from AIDS years ago. Another determined family member volunteered for a year in South Africa counseling those with AIDS. People are afflicted near and far.
Are you wearing red today? I am!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving day! I had a fabulous Thanksgiving at my house with 16 people and 6 dogs for the day. Good family times! On Friday, my mom, my sister and I hit the mall for some shopping and lunch. It's a tradition that we've enjoyed for many years.

Today will be my last regular installment of Cinquain Saturday. I discovered that many poets participate in a Poetry Friday, so I will do that instead...Stay tuned!

Today's cinquain is about my favorite drink, Coca Cola. I love it, especially the fountain Coke from McDonald's. I know it's terrible for you, so I don't have it every day. My second favorite drink? Chocolate milk! Though I have to admit, on a hot summer day, nothing beats a cold Coors Light...What is your favorite beverage?

I thirst.
I pant, I sigh.
Then I spy a hidden
cold can of Coke. I pop the top.
Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s tune is a great, classic song by Led Zeppelin. “Thank You” was released in 1969 on the Led Zeppelin II album. The English band, Led Zeppelin, influenced rock and roll with their heavy guitars and achieved great commercial success. Led Zeppelin ranked number one on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. I’m sure all of you have heard of Led Zeppelin….
So many awesome songs! My favorite albums are II and IV; my roommate, Becky, and I would listen to those albums while getting ready to go the bars in college!
It is the week of Thanksgiving. The song lyrics in “Thank You” have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, blogs, or writing, but the title words should be said daily to friends, family, even strangers.
I want to thank Vivian at Hipwritermama blog for a book I’ve won in her contest! She is sending me Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes. This YA book is centered around music…gee, do you think I’ll like it? :0)
Thank you for visiting my blog. Thank you for commenting. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to having some great family time! I hope you all can do the same! I feel truly blessed.
Happiness..I’m glad.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smashing Cinquain Saturday

My sister, Denise, and I saw Smashing Pumpkins last night. Today’s cinquain is about Billy Corgan, lead singer and songwriter of the band. Smashing Pumpkins celebrate 20 years of rock and roll this year…we saw a poster celebrating it at the concert titled: Twenty Years of Sadness. Billy is known to be eccentric, egocentric and full of angst; many of his songs reflect this. Last night he portrayed all of that, but more so, his extreme talent.

Creative soul
Twenty years of sadness
Decades of hits, sold out concerts
Lost boy

My girls’ night out started with drinks at a local bar. My sister and I met with fellow blogger/YA author, SL Hastings, and her husband. We chatted about both of our husbands being wary of us meeting “cyberfriends.” We shared writing stories and giggled over other funny stories from our lives. It was fun meeting a fellow blogger and writer.Photobucket
Denise and I then headed to the concert. We had awesome seats, and the band started soon after we got to the venue. The lights dimmed, and the band started playing. Billy entered in usual theatrical fashion as seen here.Photobucket

We enjoyed the 2 hour plus set of old hits and new tunes. Billy bantered a bit about Chicago sports (he is a huge fan), and related how his second concert was at this theater (the band, Asia). He had a cold and coughed and blew his nose a bit during the performance, but his vocals didn’t suffer from it. Corgan sounded awesome. Tonight’s show though was cancelled and rescheduled due to Corgan’s illness.
The Pumpkins played twenty songs (no encore due to Billy’s sickness). I don’t mind listening to new songs, but they outnumbered the hits that they played. Also, many of the songs were drawn out with self-indulgent guitar by Billy, which I could have done without. He is a superb guitar player, but I really don’t want to hear it go on and on!
Overall, it was a good concert. Billy is a talented entertainer. Jimmy Chamberlain was phenomenal at drums. But as many fans would say, I would have liked more hits; they have so many to choose from. Some of this is due to the next nights performance being totally different to this one (all different songs played), but they have enough hits to satisfy both nights, or repeat a song or two. My favorite songs of the night were “Tarantula,” “Bullet” and their new single, “G.L.O.W.” I liked their heavy guitars on “Heavy Metal Machine,” but the song went on a little long.
I read on the Smashing Pumpkin message boards that after many of his recent concerts, Billy ended it by lashing out at the fans and going on a tirade. I think it was probably supposed to be a statement or some theatrical release, but we did not get yelled at after this performance, probably because he was sick. I have to say I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to see everyone’s reactions to it. I was also fully prepared to write on this blog, “Despite all his rage, Billy’s still just a brat on the stage…”
But we were denied this rehearsed rant, which actually probably was for the better. He even said, “I love you all” to his fans…maybe illness makes him more human…
That’s my wrap up. Good concert, still love their songs…Billy’s still, well, Billy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Behind the Times

Yes, I am ten years behind...I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone! I read to my three children each night -a picture book for JD, a picture book or a chapter to my daughter, and then a chapter (or several pages of a nonfiction book) to my oldest son. I finally convinced my nine year old son, J-Man, to read Harry Potter with me. I read a chapter to him aloud, then he reads on by himself. I then have to catch up and read to myself by bedtime the next evening. I 've wanted to read the Harry Potter series for a long time, but I also wanted to experience it at the same time as the J-Man. So we read it together. We have the collection that my mom saved for the kids after she and my sister read through them. Of course, it is as amazing as everyone has told me.
I knew J-Man would love the book. He would tell me daily, "You have to catch up, you won't believe what happens!" When he read the last few chapters by himself, he exclaimed, "Mom, there is a big surprise at the end! You HAVE to finish it tonight!" Thankfully, all of my children love to read, but it still fills my heart up with pride when I see them get truly excited over a book.
Last night we snuggled together and watched the movie together. J-Man was so proud to annouce the characters names as they came onto the screen. He would announce the settings, "Yep, there's Diagon Alley..." and had fun commenting throughout the whole movie.
After the movie he told his Dad, "Dad! It's better than Star Wars!" to which my husband yelped, "What??????" and pretended to look hurt.
This morning we all spoke in (bad) British accents as I sent my older two off to Hogwarts. I just hope J-Man doesn't return today with a rat named Scabbers...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tune for Tuesday

Today’s tune is absolutely smashing. I’ve spent way too much time perusing videos this morning to pick the tune. I knew I wanted a Smashing Pumpkins song, because I am going to see them live for the first time this weekend (Woo hoo!). I’ve actually seen lead singer, Billy Corgan, perform already this year. He played guitar on a song (The Chauffeur) with Duran Duran this spring when I was at a Duran Duran concert! It was awesome. I’m pretty pumped to see him perform with the Pumpkins finally.
Smashing Pumpkins, an alternative rock band from Chicago, have so many cool tunes to choose from. Should I choose their newest single, “G.L.O.W.” or an old favorite,“Zero?” “Today” or “Bullet with Butterfly Wings?” There is a plethora of Smashing Pumpkin songs that I like, so I’m just going to go ahead and pick one….
Today’s Tune for Tuesday is “Disarm” simply because I checked my Itunes folder and that is the Smashing Pumpkins song with the most plays on my Ipod...
I just read an article about the band celebrating 20 years of rock n roll! Read it here.
Check it!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Prairie Writers Day Recap

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to attend the SCBWI Prairie Writers Day. The night before, I could not get to sleep as it was my first conference. I was so nervous and excited. I was like a little girl before the first day of school!
A friend from my writing group, Ann Bryson, accompanied me to this conference. It was fun to have someone to share the day with. As we pulled into the parking lot, I realized it was the wrong lot, so I went to back up (slowly, thank goodness) and heard a honk behind me! I exclaimed to Ann, “Well, I almost hit an editor!” Great way to start the day…luckily it was not an editor, but a very nice lady who was polite enough not to mention my driving faux pas when we met up with her. We entered the building, received our folder and name tags, and sat among 175 attendees who were anxious to learn and mingle with their peers and the guest speakers.
What amazing guest speakers! Our speakers included editors from different publishers: Harold Underdown who is a freelance editorial consultant, Martha Mihalick from Greenwillow, Cheryl Klein from Arthur A. Levine Books, and Caroline Meckler from Wendy Lamb Books. Our group learned more about the state of the industry from Harold, character from Martha, plot from Cheryl and voice from Caroline. All presentations were so thorough. The information presented refreshed what I do know and added to my knowledge of each topic. I am looking forward to using this information to revise my current projects. As guest speaker, Jennifer Rofe said, “When you think you are done, you’re not!” Jennifer is an agent from Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I did not know much about agencies before this. She opened my eyes to what an agent does, which includes suggesting edits of the manuscript before sending it to publishers. Sharon Darrow’s teaching session also emphasized revision. She gave some great helpful hints to revise poetry.
Besides recharging and filling up my think tank, this day allowed me to mingle with other authors. I was able to visit with some ladies from my local SCBWI chapter. I spoke with my poetry mentor, Heidi Bee Roemer, with whom I’ve taken a class from. I also met a fellow blogger and blueboarder, Tabitha Olson. Ann and I met many wonderful people who adore the writing process as much as we do.
I left the conference refreshed, smarter, more confident, and definitely excited to revise my manuscripts and create more. And boy, did I sleep well when I got home that night, too!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

Today I am attending an SCBWI Prairie Writers Day conference. I am so excited! It is my first conference, and there are amazing speakers! I'm looking forward to soak up all the professional advice and information that I can!

I'm off!

Smarts and Craft time

at Prairie Writers Day.

Learning, networking, and growing.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I comment on blogs, and I like it! I am participating in the Comment Challenge from Mother Reader. The goal is to comment on at least five kidlitosphere blogs a day. You keep track of your numbers, and report in on Wednesdays with Mother Reader. On Wednesday, November 26, there will be a final check-in post for the Comment Challenge. I’ve been exploring new blogs, learning new information, and keeping up with my favorite blogs, too! It’s also a great networking tool. Spread the blog love, comment today!
My second challenge is Buy Books for the Holidays! Due to the weak economy, many industries are hurting, and publishing is one of them. This challenge will not only boost book sales, but the love of reading as well! I already shopped at Borders yesterday and left the store with a big ole bag of books for my family members.
My third challenge comes from Rena. She posted a beautiful wedding picture and asked others to do the same. Above is a picture of the day I became Mrs. Polark. It was a 93 degree day in June. The church we got married in did get air conditioning….two days after we married! The reception was a blast - lots of dancing and much love from family and friends. One of the best days of my life! Corny, but true!
Here are a few other pics in my wedding dress...
Join me in one or all three of these challenges! You know you want to!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tune For Tuesday

Today’s Tune for Tuesday may be a little hardcore for your average blogger. Today’s song is “Unholy Confessions” by Avenged Sevenfold. The headbanging song is from Avenged Sevenfold’s 2003 Waking the Fallen album. This song is the most played song on my Ipod, and it’s also one of my ringtones. Most of you will probably turn it off after a minute (that's okay, I won't be offended!), but for some reason, I LOVE this song! My favorite part is the amazing guitar riff in the beginning (which is my ringtone). Avenged Sevenfold is one of my preferred bands due to the guitar talent of lead guitarist, Synyster Gates, and nail-gun drumming of The Rev.
I discovered Avenged Sevenfold in 2005 when their breakout song, “Bat Country” became popular on the radio and Mtv. Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of their music. Other mainstream hits include “Seize the Day,” “Almost Easy,” and “Afterlife.” My husband and I saw this rock band live at Ozzfest a few summers ago. I have tickets to see Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry tonight, so an Avenged Sevenfold Tune for Tuesday seemed appropriate for today.

Check it out and rock out!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

Many schools have given out report cards recently. My two grade school age children received theirs this week. I am thankful that they act respectfully in the classroom and earn good grades. As a former grade school teacher, I have much experience with report cards. Children are so different. The learning levels vary so much in one classroom. Some are lucky enough to have parent guidance at home, some are not. Some children have a thirst for knowledge, others just wait for the school day to end. A few children get A's and B's with little effort, while others struggle to get C's and B's.
I could write a hundred cinquains about report cards (maybe I will!). Today's is about the students who do well, but don't want to go that extra mile to do better. I remember a student who received all B's, and the mom was pleased (as she should be). I tried to convince her though that her son was capable of so much more, that he did this with little effort. I wanted the parents to have even higher expectations for their child. I had another student who would study more, ask me more questions, really try to achieve B's and C's. When he did receive all B's, it was a huge accomplishment. His parents and I were so very proud.
Grades are important records of what a child learns in the classroom, but there is so much more to understand about your child's abilities beyond the report card.


All B's.
My teacher writes,
"Doesn't apply himself."
Mom hugs me, but expects some A's
next time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Addicted to Blood

True Blood that is…My hubby and I watched the newest episode of HBO’s True Blood last night. True Blood is one of my favorite shows this fall. New episodes air on Sunday nights. We usually watch each episode on Sunday nights after the kids are asleep, but busy schedules postponed our viewing this week. The current episode had the usual campiness and outrageousness that we have come to enjoy in this series.
True Blood is centered around the life of Sookie Stackhouse. Sookie, played brilliantly by a blond Anna Paquin, is a spunky, independent waitress who falls in love with a vampire named Bill. The show is set in the south during an unsettled era when vampires are being mainstreamed into society when a synthetic blood drink, True Blood, becomes available. Some vampires sustain themselves with this new drink, others cannot resist their primal ways of drinking from humans.
True Blood is mystery, comedy, fantasy, love story all in one. I do not usually watch horror films, but this really isn’t your typical horror show. There are blood and guts and very graphic adult situations (it is HBO!), but the main characters seem more intriguing and interesting.
There are only three episodes left in the season. If you are an avid viewer like me, chime in about your favorite character, scene or what you like best about this show. If you haven’t watched the series, I advise you to try and watch it from the beginning of the series as it is a mystery, too. If HBO happens to play the reruns in order, watch that, or wait for the DVD that I assume will be out next year.
True Blood is based on mystery novels by Charlaine Harris. I usually like to read books first, before seeing the movie. I will still seek out the novels and devour them after the series is done. I imagine they will still be bloody good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tune for Election Tuesday

Today is a historic day. I, like so many of you, have pondered the issues, the candidates. Today is the day that we execute our privilege to vote. I do feel that it is a privilege. I was nervous and excited to vote for the first time when I was 18. The last election I was nervous and excited to vote as my children’s school referendum was at stake. This election I am nervous and excited, because we will finally find out who has won this important election. No matter which presidential candidate you are voting for today, the winner will not dictate all of the important choices in your life when he starts his term. You are the leader of your life. You have educated yourself on what you feel is best for our country, now educate yourself on what is best for you.
Tomorrow everyone will be buzzing about our future president. Today’s Tune for Tuesday is titled, “Tomorrow.” It is a song by one of my favorite bands, Sixx: A.M.
Please think about my favorite lyrics to this song:

“Just look at yourself, do you like what you see?
Look at yourself, is this how it should be?”

Change was a buzzword during much of the campaign. If the answer is maybe or no to these questions, strive for a positive change in yourself. Volunteer. Learn a new skill. Be a better role model for your children. Respect others’ opinions. Set goals.
Have a greater tomorrow, week, month, year!

Rock the Vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cinquain Saturday

I heart poetry! Two of the few items I saved from my grade school years are my poetry unit collections that I made in fifth and eighth grade. When I was a grade school teacher, I so enjoyed teaching the different styles of poetry to my students. Now I create poetry for fun and to submit to magazines. I also have three picture books of poetry that I am presenting to various publishers.
Due to this love of poetry, Saturdays in the Kelly Polark Blog World will now become Cinquain Saturdays. A cinquain is a five line poem. There are three styles.
Style #1

Line 1: One word
Line 2: Two words
Line 3: Three words
Line 4: Four words
Line 5: One word

Style #2
Line 1: A noun
Line 2: Two adjectives
Line 3: Three -ing words
Line 4: A phrase
Line 5: A synonym for the noun in Line 1
Style #3

Line 1: Two syllables
Line 2: Four syllables
Line 3: Six syllables
Line 4: Eight syllables
Line 5: Two syllables

I usually use Style #3 when I write cinquains. When I taught poetry to my students, I used Style #2 to incorporate the parts of speech. I currently write cinquains for children and for adults. Each Saturday I will post a new cinquain on my blog! I whipped one up this morning to start my Cinquain Saturday...don't worry, they'll get better. ;0)

Today's Cinquain

My blog.
Write, share, connect
With peers, family, friends.
Compose, revise, add picture then

Thanks for checking it out! I also want to give a shout out to The Write Marbles website for sending me a fabulous picture book, Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn. I won their Chime In and Rhyme contest last month. And lo and behold, I just heard today I won another contest! YA Author Keri Mikulski is sending me some cool YA books that I won in her Book Giveaway Contest! Woo hoo! Thanks Keri and Write Marbles for some great reads!