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.

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.

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#FMF Next

I participate in Five Minute Friday. Set the timer for 5 minutes and freewrite with the word provided. Find the link up here.

Set the timer and GO!

As I read the information about the prompt this week on the site I immediately thought of my work with Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing. If you follow my blog, you know I love this book and have been reflecting through it since the beginning of the month. Each chapter is highlight by Emily on Instagram.

The idea of #mynextrightthing has been on my mind for quite awhile. It is a decision making process that makes sense especially in the sense of overwhelm. I can figure out what to do next, even if it is little like take a shower, or make a sandwich, or breath. I have been through trauma that had me feeling like I was trying to make it through the minute, not the day. I don’t remember exactly when I found the podcast The Next Right Thing but I know that it spoke to me. Emily’s voice is amazing if you haven’t listened to her either. I am thankful Emily is in my life this way.

There are lots of circumstances in this world that do not make sense to me. I used to be able to make a decision pretty quickly. This was at a time where my perception was that “Everything was gonna work out.” I have made some decisions which led to more obstacles as time went on and now I second guess as to if I will make the wrong decision. I have people relying on me and cannot afford to make any more mistakes than I have to. I will continue to make mistakes but try to be as informed as possible!

My next right thing right now is to keep writing. I will interact with my writing people this morning and my family this afternoon. Another next thing is to be open to opportunities and appreciate the moments I am in. The amount of next right things I get to choose are not guaranteed.

If you have not read Emily’s book I urge you to get a copy. It will be given as a gift from me several times this year! You can find it here.

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

#mynextrightthing

I adore Emily P Freeman and her work. I was honored to be a part of her launch team and have been slowly absorbing the book in small chunks. It makes me think.

On Instagram Emily offers a community encouragement project to lead people through the book. I am not participating on Insta, but will share the graphic and some of my thoughts here.

pay attention

I pay attention to other people’s reactions and then sometimes base my behavior off this information. It has made me successful in job interviews in the past. I pay attention if I care about you or the outcome.

I pay attention to small details for my writing. I pay attention to how I feel or how something looks so I can write about it later. I pay attention to my reactions to words – written and oral – and then reflect on them later in writing.

I am not consistent about paying attention to the clothes I wear. I used to care a great deal and would be in dresses and heels 95% of the time. My job is different here, but sometimes I feel like my choices of clothing is based only that I need to be covered so I am not arrested for indecent exposure.

find silence

There is no real silence.

There are pockets of time where there is LESS noise.

There are always thoughts circulating through my brain. There is always a fan on, or a machine whirring, or a phone ringing.

When the power goes out and everything stops there is MORE silence.

name it

The idea of naming is a concept that seems particular to Emily. On Tsh’s podcast SIMPLE last year it was mentioned that Emily has the knack for naming the un-nameable. This has stuck with me and intrigues me.

Is it real unless you name it? Does IT have to have a label? Like relationships – people ask each other “What are we?” “Where is this going?” “Are you my girl/boy friend?”

In writing – did it really happen if it doesn’t end up on paper? Or on a social media platform?

We all have stories and the way we tell them are our own.

Naming is not explaining. I do think of naming as reframing. The darkness has the ability to suck us into the place where we know no answers. It can cause worry, anxiety, and physical ailments.

When I am upset that a car has cut me off on the highway instead of being sucked into negativity I think “Maybe they have a sick child and are needing to get home.”

When someone gives me a reaction that I am not expecting I think “Maybe they have something else on their mind right now.”


Emily says naming can release new growth and requires specificity. But naming is something I am still figuring out. Any thoughts are appreciated!

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.

Adventures

The sun sparkled in the sky yesterday, but the wind was biting.

The gym was the first stop. Car wash was the second. Third was a Greek diner in Hyde Park named Salonica.

The vegetable soup had more veggies than I could name in a Family Feud game. It was delicious and perfect.

The arc of the booth my husband and I sit in covers the faces of the friends that are meeting on the other side. It is the conversation of two friends that have reconnected in their old stomping grounds. One successful and one that doesn’t seem to know what to do with his life. There is polite conversation at first and then the obscenities of familiarity start rolling off the tongues. It a Greek restaurant and a comfortable space for me even though I have never seen this restaurant before today.

My Greek chicken with the secret spices and hint of lemon fills my belly and I am comfortably full this Wednesday afternoon. The half potato was seasoned with something I cannot place but went divinely with the meal. The broccoli was bright green and steamed, the cauliflower tender and firm, and the few slices of zucchini a hint of the season to come.

The man behind the counter spoke staccato English and was loud on the phone. He was squeezed behind a little counter with the olives for sale. There is little space in this city. Even the streets have bumper to bumper parked cars much like the traffic in the afternoon on Lake Shore Drive a stone’s throw away.

The fourth was Powell’s bookstore. I am lost among that stack of the books that smell like the houses of all the spaces they have occupied before settling in this in between space. I look for certain authors: Gaiman, Link, Chekhov, but my eyes wander to others. Then I see the red volume 2 inches thick that is the Bradbury 100.

Just when I think that my heart has swelled with as much book love as Powell’s has to offer I go through a narrow doorway to see a ceiling 8 feet taller with books and shelves reaching to the top of the space. There is a book about Alice in Wonderland and the oddities of Carroll titled The Raven and The Writing Desk. There are cookbooks, poetry , nature writing, and a small section of children’s books. I do not acquire many children’s books anymore. I love them, but they are lonely on my shelves with no eyes and laughter to stain their pages.


Image result for powell books chicago

My three book purchases will remind me of this day every time I open them. The ride home was quick with the toll road right there.

To think that trips to the city used to be a production full of planning. Chicago was always different than Indy that I knew well. Chicago used to require well planned out directions ahead of time.

I am comfortable in this neighborhood where University of Chicago students wander in and out of buildings. They are always walking somewhere important. There are two bookstores within 4 blocks of each other book ending restaurants, cafes, salons, beautiful homes, and dry cleaners. This is my kind of place!

#IWSG – It’s Wednesday!

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here. Welcome to April 2019!

April 3 question: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

My wish today would be to help me write a scene with my character Brooklyn in a fantasy/sci fi story titled Dreams and Hourglasses. I need to have readers connect more emotionally to her in the beginning. I am trying to build the story and not overexplain right away but I am leaving my readers wanting.

I asked my writing group for recs for stories that have strong emotional reactions and was reminded of All Summer in A Day by Bradbury. I will study it again later today. I will also break out the Emotional Craft of Fiction and do some work from that text.

Happy Wednesday Writing!

#Writing Prompt Wednesday

Whenever a name or a concept comes to my attention multiple times in a week I know I am supposed to pay attention. The serendipitous concept of the week is Sarah Selecky. Her name has come up on podcasts I listen to as well as her writing school. Then when I was listening to Caroline Donahue’s solo episode for the The Secret Library Podcast she was mentioned again. Sarah teaches a Story Intensive and has guest teachers. Caroline just finished working with a group of students.

Sarah has several resources on her website and a blog. She originally came on my radar when I was looking for a way to organize my short story files in Google Drive. She was the only one that had an in depth articles about it I could find that day. Maybe it was fate. I was then led to her newsletter from there. It is one of the few I read from beginning to end.

Sarah has a novel which I checked out from the library this week as well and started reading. I like her writing style immensely. The book is called Radiant Shimmering Light.


Her twitter feeds are full of great prompts too.

One exercise she talks about is a list prompt. She starts many of her writing practice days and classes with it. This is how it works:

  1. Randomly choose a letter of the alphabet.
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes. (I like the Insight timer)
  3. Write a list of words with that letter.

After the exercise you can choose some words to use for freewrites.

Choose a handful of words to write a story.

Write whatever came to mind as you were writing the list.

Here is the list of words I came up with last night while I was writing at the library:

  • savor
  • silence
  • sandwich
  • someone
  • soar
  • swelter
  • snow
  • subtle
  • slow
  • symmetrical
  • synthesize
  • soul
  • space
  • summer
  • spring
  • salami
  • swindle
  • suck
  • sink
  • sly
  • sinister
  • swarm
  • singer
  • simmer
  • saute

The words swarm and simmer and saute stood out to me so I started a kitchen scene with a character.

A Good Writing Day! #SOL19

I participate in the TWOWRITINGTEACHERS.ORG Slice of Life Challenge every Tuesday.

I started the day writing my stories for Camp NaNoWriMo. I am using a plot structure for at least one of the stories and started to flesh it out around the framework I already created. It is going ok but I do not find it as exciting as my normal writing I must admit. I have two other structures I am going to play with as well for this series of stories.

I read my poem, essay, and short story for the day. The short story I listened to from the New Yorker Fiction podcast which was interesting. I liked the commentary afterwards.

I met my writing friend at a local restaurant and we wrote together. I brought a prompt and she brought a prompt. It was great fun and then we talked about what we wrote. It was surprsing what I came up with and it was fulfilling. I have a seed for another short story now.

I had my online group monthly Zoom call. There really wasn’t much talking about writing. We did some sprints. I had already written a lot so I cut out early.

What kind of writing day did you have?