M is for Mentor Text #SOLC Day 18

I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Each day in the month of March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and comments are made on at least 3 posts.

The Bradbury Trio project is going quite well! I am “feeding the muse” as Bradbury would say with all the lovely words. It is also helping that I am reading essays specifically about creativity and writing. I am starting to get some recommendations from others which is greatly appreciated. I was reminded this past weekend of Pema Chödrön whose words helped me through a trauma a couple years ago. I will seek her words out moving forward.

Here is a small portion of what I have been reading lately:

Essays

“The Long Road to Mars” by Ray Bradbury

“Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine” R.B.

“How to Keep and Feed A Muse” R.B

“The Gap” Natalie Goldberg

THE TIME I MET NEW YORK’S PATRON SAINT OF TYPEWRITERS by
 Thaisa Frank

Short Stories

Come to the Fair Shirley Jackson

1,000 Year Old Ghosts Laura Chow Reeve

Devil of A Tale and The Mouse by Shirley Jackson

Foley’s Pond

The Actual Thing William Maxwell

The Needle Behind the Thread and Always See Me Ryan Bender Murphy

The Widow’s Club

Instructions for Mourning

Poems – [I receive the Paris Review daily email with a poem]

The Cooper Beech Marie Howe

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer Walt Whitman

“Spring” Judita Vaiciunate

The Solsticeby W. S. Merwin

“Yeats at Balscadden” Damel Tobin

Have you read anything really great I need to read? Tell me!

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Readwise #SOLC Day 17

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Usually, we make corned beef and cabbage and have soda bread but this year is a bit more regular and simple. I wore my green to a workshop on Friday.

An app called Readwise is linked to my Amazon account and therefore my kindle. I receive a once a week email including some of the highlights I have made in the books that I have read.

Here are some of the highlights I received this week. It is an interesting look into my reading history.

As a writing exercise, I will take a couple of these quotes and use them as freewriting prompts.

10% Happier by Dan Harris
Working for Peter was like sticking your head in a lion’s mouth:
thrilling, but not particularly safe. (Location 182)Y

This book was recommended to me by a coworker. It was interesting and I liked reading about meditation but it did not change my behavior around the practice. I did really like this line though.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
She wanted to bottle how safe she felt in this moment, so she could
drink of it later when loneliness and fear left her parched. (Location 284)

I read The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See right after each other. I wished I could bottle safety myself and wish I would have written this line!

Dear Life by Alice Munro
In fact they embraced it, diving into it and wrapping the familiar
words round their tongues as if they were a candy that could last forever. (Location 209)

Being a short story writer I love Alice Munro. I only recently learned of her so this is a more recent read. I love words and the idea of them being candy like resonated with me.

Inside the Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg
Subtraction works by eliminating an essential component of a system (a product or process). (Location 706)

This book was recommended by a speaker at the International Reading Association conference. It was about problem solving and was fascinating. I have gone back to this book on many occasions.

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
Year’s resolution was to live his life like it’s an art project. (Location 2175)

Ah! Emily! If you are a reader of my blog you know I LOVE Emily P Freeman. I love projects and challenges and loved the equation of life to the project.

We Wanted to Be Writers by Eric Olsen, Glenn Schaeffer, and
Bill Manhire
Or try to walk, a walking meditation. Don’t talk. That scares away the light. (Location 3293)Y

I found out about the Iowa Writing Workshop from Oprah actually. Once I learned about this writing mecca I searched for everything I could read about the program and the writers. This book is only one of them.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
The stories shatter. Or you wear them out or leave them behind.
Over time the story or the memory loses its power. Over time you
become someone else. (Location 1348)

Solnit is a beautiful writer. I adore her patterns and style. Her words speak to me in a very mindful way.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Tangier and Lucy were the same, I thought. Both unsolvable riddles
that refused to leave me in peace. (Location 1632)

This was a book about friendship – or the illusion of it at least. I loved this line.

Creative Schools by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
Effective teaching is a constant process of adjustment… (Location 1724)

Ken Robinson! Oh yes! His books are fantastic and I love to hear his presentations on YouTube. He is brilliant.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
He’d do what he always did, find the sweet among the bitter. (Location 4260)Y

Such is life, yes? I read this book for a book club years ago. I would have never picked it up otherwise.

Thanks for reading and looking into a slice of my reading life! It is fun to revisit lines that struck me as I read. I am looking forward to the writing later too!

Happy Irish Sunday!

Note: I wrote my coffee share post yesterday – if you are looking for it it is day 16 this week.

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 16

Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair around this oak table and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning. I am on my third cup though. I have been really tired all this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then comment on at least 3 posts. This weekend there is a comment challenge so there will be lots of activity. If the internet goes down blame it on the teachers! I commented every day and it is always great to interact with people.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had a training yesterday with Jim Knight. I drove into the city which always feels sophisticated to me. They had moved our tables which was jarring! This is a series of workshops and the same group meets every time. We have one more session next month. I spent a lot of the time talking to the coaches at our table. The materials are always great. We talked about learning maps which is something I will bring back to my office. It is a visible learning plan for students and teachers. There were times I had a hard time focusing throughout the day because I had woken up at 2:30 am. I had multiple little baby cups of coffee. I had great conversation about writing with a gifted classroom with an elementary coach too which was fun.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the conference I want to go to in November has posted the registration this week. I cannot sign up quite yet but will. There are studies that show the more you anticipate something the more happiness you glean from it. I will be taking full advantage of this fact with the writing conference in Salem! I have been there once. The Sunday before I ran the Boston Marathon I spent the day walking around the city. It was fascinating and I cannot wait to go back.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I read at least one essay, one poem and one short story every day this week for my Bradbury Trio. I found the formats and the ideas finding their way into my writing this week which is a good thing. The essays mostly were Ray Bradbury and Natalie Goldberg.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a teacher left our building in the middle of the year. She had her reasons and I support her, but I am sad about it. She is the second math teacher to do it this year. I feel bad for the kids. Some of them are not dealing with the feelings of abandonment well.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my writing has been all over the place. I wrote every day but I am not working on any particular short stories. I do have the rejected flash fiction story I want to revise and send back out this weekend. I plan to work on some longer word count short stories for the month is April. I also will get 3 critiques back on another story from my group so I will be able to revise it next month and send it out too!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! It really is a highlight of my week. What is the best thing that happened to you today? I would love to hear about something inspiring you read.

Happy Weekend!

Other weekend coffee share posts are here 

You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org

PLACE #FMF #SOLC Day 15

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Each day in March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and the Two Writing Teachers website. We read and comment on each other’s posts.

Since it is Friday, it is also time for Kate’s Five Minute Friday Challenge. Today’s word is PLACE. You can read the guest post by author and inspiration Christie Purifoy whose new book PLACEMAKER just released.

In my Google Keep notes I saved the word : Monochopsis: the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place. This word is one I didn’t know existed but feel it is the perfect descriptor for several seasons of my life. I see belonging as a comfort but not always a necessity. My job title is coach. At this school, I am on a teacher contract. I have no evaluative portions of my job which I am grateful for but for some people the lines get blurry.

As a coach my place is to be helpful and a resource. Right now there are obstacles in my building and I am trying to reflect to make my practice better.
Christy Pulfroy said on a podcast I listening to toward the beginning of the month that a placemaker to her was someone who made their place even if you knew you would only be there a short time. She started me thinking of the gifts that place gives us. I suppose in the grand scheme of things everything is temporary.

I feel I am in temporary spaces in several aspects of my life. I am always waiting for the next thing. This idea isn’t all bad but can lead to frustration sometimes.

My place today is at a table with respected coaches I work with and my place in the room is among professional from around the area. The time with these people is limited now that we are in March so I need to be the gift and receive the gifts in this space I will be in today no matter how tired I am. The potential for knowledge and connection is great and I need to recognize that fact.

What comes to mind when you think of the word PLACE?

#ThinkingThursday #SOLC Day 14

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Each day in March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and the Two Writing Teachers website. We read and comment on each other’s posts

Today’s post is centered around a question for you dear readers:

What fun fact would you share if you were being interviewed on a podcast?

A follow-up question for you is: Have you ever been on a podcast?

While thinking of what fun fact to share consider these ideas –

  • Do you have hidden talents?
  • Have you met someone interesting?
  • What are you obsessed with?
  • What is the most unusual thing you own?

What is my fun fact?

If I were on a podcast I would share a story of my intuition as my fun fact.

I used to be afraid to fly and for my last job we flew quite a few times a year for training. I had set my mindset that the pilot and the flight attendants were not going to willing get on a plane knowing it would go down so I calmed myself with that idea and also a breathing exercise from my yoga training.

[Side note here: As I have been reflecting over the last couple of weeks I have realized I really miss teaching my yoga classes! Back to regularly scheduled programming…]

Anyway, so we were to fly to New York and I was panicking about this trip for over a week before which I had not been doing for months. I tried to reframe my mindset, I talked to my coworkers who assured me flying is safer than driving, I did my breathing exercises, etc. Nothing helped the impending doom hanging over this trip.

We are in line at the airport and what do you know!? The flight is canceled due to MECHANICAL DIFFICULTIES. Luckily, they put us on a different plane to fly East. This plane was smaller than one my son made with Legos so the crashing thoughts came back. We did make it there and had an interesting van ride from Jersey to New York but I am still here to tell the tale!

Please share your fact in the comments below.

Bonus question: Yes! I have been on a podcast! You can read about it and find that here. #happyslicing!

Wishful Wednesday and a Share #SOLC Day 13

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Each day in March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and the Two Writing Teachers website. We read and comment on each other’s posts.

Today is Wishful Wednesday. I saw it on a sign on my commute to work today and it feels right to title this post as such.

Today I send you time to take a few minutes to breath.

Today I send you thankful thoughts and actions to brighten your day.

Today I send you sunshine between the rain – literally or figuratively.

Today I send you a smile.

Today I send you the peace of knowing you are where you need to be, right now.

Today I send you a gift. The link below is to one of my Workshop Wednesday presentations.

I started Workshop Wednesdays in March of 2017 to address a need of professional development time. I am lucky to be in a middle school and have the advantage of team time. With the block scheduling this year I have 30 minutes to do this training. It is always voluntary and the topic is given ahead of time.

I follow the same basic outline each time. I have attached my Google Slides for you to see. The one I am sharing today is from August of 2017. I wanted to start the conversation about personality and Introverts and Extroverts. Students sometimes process out loud if they are extroverts. If there is an introvert teacher they can sometimes get annoyed by this practice.

There was a ripple effect here. People had their spouses take the quiz. Friends talked about it at dinner. The most important conversations happened at school and people came to me saying they were communicating better with people at school because they felt they had a better understanding about how others reacted.

I would love to hear your feedback.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Z1e3iTFCpnWGVgqpl61JMnlLPUkB3z_Iu5geH23b180/copy?usp=sharing

M is for Mentor #SOLC Day 12

I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Each day in the month of March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and comments are made on at least 3 posts.

I am continuing my Bradbury Trio and have found it affecting my writing already. I have always been of the mindset it is good practice to find a Mentor to help you be better at whatever you are trying to raise your skill level in. I had a wonderful coach when I was learning to be a coach. I have consultants and authors I look up to now. But the most consistent mentor I have are books, stories, poems, essays, and most recently, blog posts.

Last night I read the essay, RUN FAST, STAND STILL, OR, THE THING AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS,OR, NEW GHOSTS FROM OLD MINDS by Bradbury in the Zen in the Art of Writing. In this essay he talks about his list of nouns and how he used the list of 20 nouns to fuel stories. Many of these went on to be published. The brain pickings newsletter talked about this concept which I wrote a blog post about as well. You can read that here. It reminded me to make my own list today.

One of my favorite writing exercises is to start with a word and springboard from there. I pick a word and set the timer for 10 minutes and see what happens. It is writing practice and sometimes it leads to a story or a blog post.

I was also inspired yesterday by a writing friend who is going through a coaching process with a professional. Chatting with her about it sparked an idea for a story or an article I am going to explore more today.

Other blog posts are inspiring me with their formats!

The poem I read of Billy Collins yesterday, “Thieves” inspired my own poem in my notebook (not for public consumption…yet).

Inspiration is everywhere!

Other ways to be a mentor of writing:

  1. Talk about writing.
  2. Verbalize stories.
  3. Use storyboards and share stories.
  4. Share stories from your life.
  5. Find a writer that is a little more advanced than you and taker her out to coffee or send her email or a Tweet. CONNECT and LEARN.
  6. Read Books to Help you Become a Better Writer. Try: Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, Stephen King, Ralph Fletcher,
  7. Donald Maass

Add your favorite writing mentors in the comments! What other mentors do you use for your writing?

Keeping A Notebook #SOLC Day 11


I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then comment on at least 3 posts. There are lots of teacher-writers there I follow regularly and I have already met new ones.

Yesterday I was a gymnastics meet and was able to write in my notebook a lot in between my daughter’s events. I love a peek into other people’s notebooks and therefore their processes. I love the podcasts Keeping a Notebook from Nina LaCour and How Do You Write from Rachael Herron for this reason.

If there is a post with the word NOTEBOOK in it I am clicking every time so I thought I would share a glance into my brain that has too many drawers open with you!

Here is a list of what I put in my notebook yesterday:

  1. List of stories to find and ideas for blog posts for the month.
  2. Logged a prank my daughter played on my husband and I to put into a story.
  3. Tarot card reflections.
  4. Logged title of short story I read.
  5. Logged title of essay I read.
  6. Snippets from the 4 hour drive on Saturday to put in my compost pile for writing. One of which is the fact that 5 deer came running down in this hilly section of winding road. They all stopped at the road and waited for the cars to stop THEN ran across through the stream to the other side. It was wild and beautiful!
  7. Writing practice with the stems: I KNOW and I DON’T KNOW
  8. All the event scores and places for my daughter.
  9. start of 2 poems
  10. Planning for a story centered around a character named Ansil.
  11. List of names – first and last to mix and match
  12. Notes from a podcast about patterns.
  13. Play with verbs as an anchor concept for characters.

Do you keep a notebook?

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 10

Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair around this oak table and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning. I am on my third cup though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then comment on at least 3 posts. There are lots of teacher-writers there I follow regularly and I have already met new ones. I started participating the year I went to Hawaii for spring break so I think that might have been 2006? 2008? I have been doing this challenge for a long time.



If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had a great time this week connecting with other bloggers and teachers. I always love chatting with people through the comments. As a writer, it is exciting to see what jumps out to people and resonates with them. I learn so much from everyone.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a Google call with one of my writing friends which was completely fulfilling to me! We are not geographically close enough to meet in person. She helped me realize a few things right in front of me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about hosting a gathering surrounding the Bradbury Trio. I think this would lead to a great reading and writing discussion. Read my thoughts about it here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I received another rejection. Sticker went in the book! I received some feedback so that made me happy.

If we were having coffee I would tell you, the time change is something I abhor. I wish we didn’t do it at all. I usually say it is jet lag without the trip. This year I have to travel by car for a sporting event for my daughter. Monday is going to be ROUGH.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! I would love to hear something wonderful that happened this week for you. I want to hear about what or who is inspiring you!

Happy Sunday!

Other weekend coffee share posts are here 

You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org

Bradbury Trio #SOLC Day 9

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There are lots of routines that I want to try out but if I tried every one I would never get anything done though. I do not have an MFA but there are various ways to recreate a DIY approach. There is even a book: DIYMFA. One of the leaders of this idea is one of my writing heroes, Ray Bradbury.

The ‘Bradbury Trio’ in Ray Bradbury’s own words:

“I’ll give you a programme to follow every night. Very simple programme. For the next thousand nights, before you go to bed every night, read one short story. That will take you ten minutes, fifteen minutes. Okay? Then read one poem a night from the vast history of poetry. Stay away from most modern poems. It’s crap. It’s not poetry. Now, if you want to kid yourself and write lines that look like poems, go ahead and do it, but you’ll go nowhere. But read the great poets. Go back and read Shakespeare, read Alexander Pope, read Robert Frost. But one poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights.”

There is a great explanation of this idea at Benjamin’s Blog.Benjamin has an inspiring video of Bradbury on this post as well you want to check out. I have watched it several times.

Yesterday, I decided to follow this program. Several writers I know participate in this process. I cannot time wise do it everyday but for the next month my goal is to accomplish the Trio 3 times a week. 1000 nights is over 2.7 years!

Essay: “The Joy of Writing” by Bradbury Zen in the Art of Writing

Essay: “The Rules of Writing Practice” Natalie Goldberg Wild Mind

Short Story: “I Found Your Voodoo Doll on the Dance Floor After Last Call” Nancy Stohlman

Flash Fiction: 1000 Cranes Melissa McCracken

Short Story: “Findings and Impressions” by Stellar Kim Best American Short Stories (BASS) 2007

Poem: “Knives” by Michael Stephens

Poem: “The Chairs That No One Sits In” Billy Collins


The idea of gathering with a group of people with these three readings as a topic excites me too! The Knives poem is what inspired my writing the most yesterday. I also am going to play with the format of the Kim story.

Clearly, I get caught up and cannot just read one of each! How does this practice resonate with you? What are your thoughts about it? Please share in the comments.

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