A Trip Down Memory Lane…Kinda #SOL19

Every Tuesday I post a slice of life and share in the challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Lately, I have noticed shadows of things that I thought were new to my life but actually are not. It is amazing what reflection can bring forth.

I think of myself as a reflective person, and not just at the end of the school year. I always want to learn and become better and reflection is a large part of this process in my opinion.

With my discovery of short stories and I being creative soul mates over the recent last couple of years, I did not think that I had that much experience with short stories before. I had no recollection of reading many of them in high school other than The Celestial Omnibus . I do have a special place in my heart for this story, which is why I suspect it stands out.

Yesterday, while looking for something else, I stumbled across my ELA folder from school. In my corporation, writing samples were saved in a district folder that followed you from elementary to senior year where it was given to you unceremoniously. I have kept it all these years.

Curious, I started thumbing through it and was reminded of papers I wrote for Macbeth and for Of Mice and Men…then I stumbled on papers in connection to short stories.

One is WINTER DREAMS by F Scott Fitzgerald. I printed it off and began reading. I don’t remember reading it at all! It was a trip down memory lane – slight skewed.

I wrote a paper about Judy Jones and her many personality aspects. It isn’t the most riveting paper I must say. I had strong opinions and did not like this character much at all!

I look forward to finding new stories to read that I have read before. It will be like the first time…again.

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Mothersday

Today please join me for a coffee at a little diner that looks like we have gone back in time. The mugs are ceramic and thick. The booths are red pleather. There is a buzz in the air that is snippets of conversation from babies to retirement age and the smell of strong coffee.

While we are having coffee I will tell you this past week was full of testing, late nights, and writing.

While we are having coffee I would tell you Storyaday May is going strong. I have written everyday and it is going well. I am following the prompts from Julie and Sarah Selecky. Most days I am able to combine both into one story which makes me happy and satisfied for some reason. I also was able to come back to my manuscript and start to write some stories that will be embedded into the novel. At my writing retreat in Feb. I was able to outline the whole book and see where there were holes and alignment issues. my brain is starting to plug those holes as I write which is exciting.

While we are having coffee I would tell you I am enjoying my writing community. I am checking in with the group every day. I have a few people I talk to more often with email or private messages. Monday night was our video meeting and it was nice to do some timed writing sprints with people around the country. I was also able to check in with a small group on Friday as well which was a great vibe.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you the Bradbury Trio challenge is going strong as well. I cannot pinpoint works this week that have stayed with me. I did relisten to The Ormulu Clock by Muriel Spark.

While we are having coffee I will tell you testing has gone on all week. I had my regular group two days and then on all the off times I was doing make up tests. It gives me time to write by hand since I cannot be connected to technology. I welcome the tech vacation every year at this time.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I had a good coaches meeting with one of our consultants. She is always motivating. We talked about goals and reflecting. The year is not over for my building yet so I am not quite in the end of year mode.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am back to running. I am having some complicated feelings about the activity to be honest. I was hard core before for various reasons but now the motivations for the runs are different. I had a glorious run at the national lakeshore on Friday and ran down a new trail which was beautiful and sandy. I even ran along the water which I have not done in years. the stairs took me to overlook the park too.

Trail 7

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am tired but am not dwelling on it. Sunday is Mother’s Day. I have complicated feelings about this holiday. I will spend some time with one of my sons and enjoy that. The rest of the day I will deal with my memories. Maybe it will end up in a story.

What will you tell me while we have coffee?

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

Weekend Coffee Share – May is HERE!

Today let’s have coffee at the table under the trees! I have a hammock for you and one for me for later if we want to move. I am having black coffee, as usual. What would you like from the cafe section of my kitchen?

Later today we are going to a White Sox game so I am very excited! The weather is supposed to be great.

While we are having coffee I will tell you this past week has been amazing for writing!

I wrote a breathless paragraph led by Kathy Fish in her Skillshare class. I am so glad I am able to learn from her now. If you have time, I would highly recommend the class. Skillshare is pretty easy to navigate. I have my longer class with her in July which I am anticipating happily but this is a good introduction.

I am writing a story a day. I have 5 including today. Today’s prompt is a 100 word story. This is harder than you think. I had 106 first and then I pared it down to 93. I worked it back up to 100!

I am writing 10 minutes a day with Sarah Selecky’s prompts which is stretching me in surprising ways.

I started on a specific writing manifesto.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you about some of the great reads from this past week’s Bradbury Trio.

Essay: To Grieve Is To Carry Another Time

Short story: Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver

Sarah Selecky’s short story: Go Manchura

While we are having coffee I will tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One is Jefferson Dinners.

Two is Ben Franklin circles.

Three is the NEW Moon.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am loving the Superstars community through storyaday.org. Getting involved with this group has been a great thing for my writing life! You can get involved in the challenge by commenting on each day’s prompt at the site.

StoryADay

What was the best thing about your week?

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

Weekend Coffee Share – Last April Sunday

It is time for our weekly coffee chat! I am so glad you have joined me today. Today let’s have coffee under the large tree out back. We will have a picnic with bread from the bakery and some cheeses. I will get some of the little fruit tarts for us too.

I am having black coffee. What would you like today?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my school started state testing this week. It is a new system and a new test, but everything seems to be going smoothly. As a teacher it is never fun to test the kids, but necessary, as it is a mandate.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hosted the intro meeting to my short story club with a small group of 7th graders. It was amazing and full of interesting conversation and observations. If you missed that post you can read it here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Friday I went to my last coaching training for the year with Jim Knight. I am lucky to be offered this training and am grateful. It has not only made me a better coach, but also has brought me closer to the other coaches I work with in the district. I met some people I would have not otherwise met too. Hope was the topic for the day related to being a better leader. I loved this training. There is a great checklist of items for me to focus on for the rest of this year at work and to begin planning for the fall. I wrote about it yesterday.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been exhausted this week. The schedule has been different and I have not been sleeping well. I slept a much needed full night on Friday and am taking the day off and not going anywhere on Saturday. The concept of burning out keeps coming up for me this week too. I have to be careful I do not allow myself to go into that spiral.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was going to take myself on an artist date on Friday. Do you ever do that thing where at 7am it seems like good idea to plan something then when 3 pm rolls around it doesn’t sound that awesome anymore? Yeah…that is what I did. I was going to take myself to an independent bookstore or a cafe in Chicago before I left the city. I looked up a couple and had chosen The Book Table but I was so tired from the training that I changed my mind. THEN it took me 2 hours to get home when it should have only been an hour. UGH. I am not sure if it was the right choice or not. I felt like my next right thing was to go home and eat and sleep.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One are the videos from Julie Duffy about preparations for StoryADay May. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I have been connecting with some of the new members to the Superstars group which has been fun!

A second creative spark is Number 26.

A third creative spark for me are the stories and poems I read this week for my Bradbury Trio.

A fourth creative spark this week is Sarah Selecky’s website. I am really contemplating her short story self guided course.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I joined the Superstars group through StoryADay and am excited for a year of support. The prompts are amazing every day in May and then I love the interaction with the writers. Knowing that there is a core group of people in the writing group to chat with once a week is motivating as well. You can still sign up for Superstars before May 1st! You should consider joining us.

StoryADay

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

StoryADay May is almost here!

I am so excited for StoryADay May this year! StoryADay is a writing challenge conducted every May (and September) where you set goals to write short stories.

My personal goal is to write 31 stories – one for each day. I like the routine of writing every day. StoryADay helps me to focus and finish and I am a sucker for a great prompt. I love this quote from Ray Bradbury:

Image result for bradbury short story quote

I can be an extreme person, and gladly take on the challenge of one story a day. I often set goals for myself just to see if I can do it. Everyone in the challenge makes their own goals though! My stories will be drafts and I will revise my favorites later. StoryADay gives me the opportunity to play with different forms of story. I also will use my Bradbury Trio reading to help me structure and inspire my stories for the month.

Image result for bradbury short story quote

I am excited about the Superstars program this year too! The community has been invaluable to my process and keeping me on track. I write anyway, but it is special to be part of a group. Just like I don’t need to be reminded to eat everyday, I don’t need reminders to write every day. But on the days I am struggling, it is nice to have a group to go to for encouragement at any time of the day. I also love to talk about writing and the video hangout meetings and the Slack channel really lends itself to this daily conversation.

Click here to watch and listen to a great video from Julie about the history of the challenge and your opportunity to move to the next level of your own writing.

The challenge itself is free at storyaday.org but the community is a year long support.

Hope to see you in the comments!

Weekend Coffee Share – April 21

Today let’s have coffee at the table, in the bump out of the little bookstore downtown. We can chat and watch the people go by. There is a bakery across the street so I will pick out a couple croissants for us. They have some delicious chocolate ones that will go perfectly with our elixir.

I am having black coffee. What would you like from the cafe barista?

While we are having coffee I will tell you about the video meeting with my writing group I had Wednesday night. It was life giving and motivating. I love these writers and it is easy for me to set up these times.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you about the relief of knowing my car is fixed. I don’t like dealing with the bill but there is more relief than I anticipated as I drive every day.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One is the video from Julie Duffy about getting ready for StoryADay May. I encourage you if you want a boost to your writing life to participate in the challenge this year. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I choose to write a story a day but you can write 4 or choose days to write. You can check out her cool video here.

Another creative spark is the short story Saint Bus Driver by J.E. McCafferty.

There are such great lines in this story. The discussion on Literary Roadhouse was fun too. It has stayed with me and I keep thinking about it. If you read it later and would like to talk about it please let me know!

A third creative spark for me was perfect for April being poetry month. Billy Collins has created a Masterclass and I found it this week. I have made it through 13 of the 20 lessons! He is joyful to listen to. I use his poems a lot for use with kids. They are straightforward. It is inspiring to listen to him talk about writing technique. I am always learning!

A fourth creative spark this week is the Pink Full Moon.

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another. I think before we leave we should wander the stacks and find at least one book to recommend to each other.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I wrote everyday. I sent a story to a contest. I am getting mentally ready for storyaday May and excited about it. I tend to binge listen to the StoryADay podcast right before! There are lots of prompts and Julie’s voice is nice to listen to. Lots of notes go into Google Keep so I can write about them later.

StoryADay

While we are having coffee I will tell you I read some great short stories this week. I am trying to be more diligent about logging my reading but find it cumbersome. I found a new to me flash fiction author, Meg Pokrass who I am enjoying. She was recommended by Amber Sparks who is a wonderful short story writer herself.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you I feel like there are lots of decisions that are hiding around the corner from me. I am trying not to worry myself but there is something coming. It is not good nor bad, it will just be, but I can feel it looming! I am thankful for having The Next Right Thing book to help me navigate though. It brings me joy and focus. I am hoping to participate in a book club with this title soon. My next right thing now is to publish this post!

While we are having coffee, I would tell you our teaming consultant visited this week and was wonderful. The meetings with him, my writer video meeting, and some great short stories has refueled my passion for my Inner Circle Gathering Idea. I believe I can pull it off online. The first ones are being planned to use a short story and some activities surrounding the text and then doing some writing exercises as well. Let me know in the comments or a message to me directly at tammybreitweiser@gmail.com if you are interested.

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

#makethelist

Inspired by Emily P Freeman and her Instagram challenge. Day 9 – Make the List. The task is to make a list of what is Life Draining vs what is Life Giving.

Currently my life draining list is

  1. a too heavily scheduled week
  2. too many late days in a row
  3. interrupted sleep
  4. dealing with toxic people I cannot get rid of

Life Giving List

  1. writing
  2. reading
  3. deep conversations with my writing friends
  4. typically exercise, but not this week
  5. laughing and time with my husband
  6. laughing and time with my kids
  7. time in the sun
  8. time with the trees

What is on your list?

Weekend Coffee Share – April 14

Today we are having coffee in a gazebo overlooking the mountains with the sun shining in on us just right. There is a stream that is rushing by us and we can see elk in the distance. The air is crisp and sweet. It is the perfect Sunday morning.

I am having black coffee and just brewed a fresh pot. I have some add ins today for you if you like -some chocolate or some butterscotch. Even some whipped cream!

If we were having coffee I would tell you it seems unbelievable that I was on Spring Break last week. It turned out to be a week of long days in a row which made it seem longer. Monday though Wednesday I didn’t get home til after 9 each night which is unusual, especially three days in a row.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was nice to get back into the swing of things at work again. I was able to work with some students this week in an English class which always makes me happy. The thinking that was happening was unexpected and out of the box. The discussion centered around analyzing digital and printed text with some reliable articles by Higher Ed and American Scholar .

If we were having coffee I would tell you I attended my IRL writing group holiday party Wednesday. It was postponed from Christmas time due to some medical issues. There were about 40 people there. There was a dinner, book exchange, door prizes, and social time.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Mine needs warmed up. Do you need another napkin, or a glass of water? I am not ready for our conversation to end!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I had my beta reader look over two stories for me. They are truthful stories, but deal with sensitive issues so I am not sure where I am going to take them next. They are not appropriate for my IRL group. I am scoping out a writer group in Chicago. They have author talks, readings, writing meetings, and critique meetings which appeals to me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my Bradbury Trio is still going strong. I received my Sarah Selecky story collection in the mail so I am excited to read her stories. Sara Batkie’s collection is on its way too. Sara I learned about from the Drunken Odyssey podcast which I was listening to on my run in the Dunes on Monday. Essays I think I am going to start looking at NPR. Do you have any suggestions?

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had to take my car in for repairs on Friday. This process always makes me extremely nervous and I usually put it off way too long. I found a great garage and the actual problem only cost a little over $300. The other things I added on were needed but not emergency so at least it was a choice. The car has been all over the country and we love her dearly! I want her to run for a long time so some belts needed changed and a tune up and transmission fluid change was necessary. She is running well again and I feel safer.

If we were having coffee I would tell you last week I said would pull some coaching materials together in a more formal way. I have started with some forms and pushed one out to a teacher. I also sent out the email about a mini coaching cycle. I like the idea of thinking about coaching as having deep conversations that I crave.

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

#wellnesswednesday

The coffee is brewing and the twinkle lights are on in my office. It is the simple things that are part of my routine that make the day go smoother!

I have already made rounds talking to teachers this morning. I had to follow up with a couple people about videos that were taken of their students before we left for break. I needed to get the reflection forms to them before any more time went by!

Today I want to share a quote that I will be writing about today from one of my FAVORITE short story writers, Kelly Link.

Look. All books are weird when you think about it…It goes without saying that real life is also weird. Kelly Link

If you have never read Kelly click here for a link to her story, “The Faery Handbag.”

#happyreading #happywriting #happyday

Weekend Coffee Share

Today we are having coffee in my three seasons room. I am having black coffee and just brewed a fresh pot. I have some add ins today for you if you like -some chocolate or some butterscotch. The birds are starting to come out. They do like the trees in the front outside my bedroom window. I haven’t lived in this house in the Spring yet so we shall see which animals come to the backyard.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this past week went super fast. It was a great week filled with “just enough” scheduled events but I am honestly not ready for it to end. I took a lazy day on Friday but something happened that made me angry and sadly it stayed with me a little too long.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a great writing week. I wrote with a friend on Monday at a favorite local restaurant. It was nice to meet, talk writing, and write “independently together”. I had a Zoom call with my online group and I also had a one on one session video conference with a writer friend on Thursday. I wrote at the local library yesterday which was a different experience but enjoyable.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a good reading week too. I went to Powell’s in Chicago and bought 3 books. I could have purchased more but used restraint. I read essays and short stories and poems everyday.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am playing with plot structure for my Camp NANOWRIMO stories. Camp NANOWRIMO is a month long community writing event that is more lax than regular National Novel Writing Month. My goal is just over 10,000 words total divided between 4 stories. I am working with the plot structure to hopefully help my writing get better and show me what I am missing in my stories. A couple resources I already have are the Ninja Writer’s plot class that I discovered I already owned, the Eva Deverell’s One page novel formula, and the Save the Cat structure.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had wonderful meals out this week. We do not go out to eat often. My husband is a great cook for one but also with 4 children it can be an expensive endeavor. We went to a local place in the town we used to live where they have great hot dogs, fries, and steak sandwiches. We also went to a local “stuck in time” steak house. It was divine and a wonderful date night.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about decisions. Big ones and little ones. This is partly because Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing came out Tuesday, April 2. I have the digital copy, the audio, and the hard copy. I do love the hard cover and have been gravitating towards it.

77: Do The Next Right Thing

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Mine needs warmed up. Do you need another napkin, or a glass of water? I am not ready for our conversation to end!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I did not listen to the normal amount of podcasts I do during a typical work week. I did listen while at the gym but did not get through the input I normally consume.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am still on my Bradbury Trio roll! I DID make a spreadsheet!

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have been lax in keeping track of my connections for my word of the year. I have been connecting with other writers through the SLACK channel, Twitter, and even in real life which has been fulfilling. I have not attended the writing group however since January. The location had changed the last couple of meetings and it didn’t seem to fall on a good evening. There is a celebration next Wednesday I plan to go to so that is exciting. I have not felt very social lately to be honest. I am trying to figure out why. There is a saying that the 5 people you surround yourself with influence you greatly. I guess friends and connections is part of the decision making we talked about earlier. April tends to be a hard month for me for connection. The month reminds me of grief.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been thinking of pulling some coaching materials together in a more formal way. I have started an outline and pulling resources I already have. I have an email partially written to send out next week for my teachers as well to do a mini coaching cycle. We shall see how that goes! I am excited to synthesize some different items together that I have been using for years.

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.