3-2-1 Creative Sparks

3 Podcasts

The Secret Library Podcast

The new season started today and Caroline’s theme is the Nourished Writer. You can check out the podcast on most podcast catchers. You can click here for more information.

I always feel like I get deep advice and conversation from this podcast. It is one that I do not miss. I knew the new season was starting and kept thinking yesterday was Thursday because of it!

Keeping A Notebook

Nina LaCour is amazing. You need to listen to her podcast just to listen to her voice. It has a dream like quality that takes me to another place.

Her podcast is intermittent. During the pandemic she shared writing prompts and her feelings about the isolation with a spin off called Shelter In Place. She is real and honest. Another podcast I never miss an episode of.

The last couple are celebrating the publication of her new book, Watch Over Me, which is a ghost story. She read an excerpt and then talks about how she wrote that section and where the inspiration came from. It makes my writer heart so happy!

MFA Writers

I have been obsessed lately with MFA programs. This podcast is an interview format. An MFA student is asked questions about their writing and their program. How it works and details about workshops and boundaries pertaining to the individual program.

2 Writing Prompts

Set a timer for ten minutes. Let you pen move and do not censor yourself.

1 Book

Cait Flanders is an author that has a style of writing that is also magical. Her new book came out Tuesday and I am already a couple chapters in. I pre-ordered this book which is not something I do often.

Adventures in Opting Out cover by Amanda Sandlin

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Welcome to the holiday weekend! I love the photo above. It makes me smile today. Do you have favorite photos? Are they on your phone or somewhere else? Do you look at them often?

I am having my regular black coffee. What would you like today? I have a pitcher of ice water as well. Let’s use the pitcher I inherited from my Oma. She used to make iced tea in it long ago. The kids use it for cherry Kool-Aid now!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I shared some stories about growing up in my newsletter this week. If you want in on the inner circle secrets you can sign up here. I also talk about the red thread of fate and how that applies to my friendships.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I used two notebooks this week – both black. I have a notebook with thin pages that works perfectly with my fountain pen in the mornings. I keep that one at home. It is part of my daily writing routine. I have a smaller black notebook I write in the rest of the day. I guess I have an at home notebook and a going out notebook!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am writing fiction every day by combining the Storyaday prompt for the challenge in September and the Sarah Selecky Daily prompt. I like the challenge of combining them and the process lends itself to unique and weird stories which I love to read and write. Most of the those stories have gone into the little black notebook.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my writing intensive started this week. I posted my first assignment and did my reading reflection. I received some lovely comments about what I posted so that was motivating. It is a piece I can expand. We used the prompt “I don’t remember” which is one Natalie Goldberg writes about as well.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a conversation with two people this week about how I write so much! I am working on a workshop about this topic. Unpacking my process around writing has been an interesting process and more difficult than I think it should be! I welcome any questions you have about my process or what you would want to know. Leave them in the comments or email me at tammybreitweiser@gmail.com.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was a full moon this week! The energy felt like it shifted for sure. With the school schedule getting more robust this week the energy was different too. I had the new adventure of making contact with my kindergarten parents and students. We did our virtual open house which was fun! Cats visited the screen as happens in this time! Next week starts live instruction and everyone is excited. All of my kids are adorable and I am learning about their favorite songs, things to do and unique things about them.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am trying to find a boxing class near me. It is something that keeps coming up in my writing about an activity I want to try. We are going kayaking again this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice. I walked several times this week and several were 10 milers. I have found fasting is easier when I am at work. I am busy and there is no food there.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am working on my 100 writing prompts. I plan to share one writing prompt a day for the last 100 days of 2020! I am so excited for this project.

What is the most important thing about your week? I want to hear all about it!

#IWSG September

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

September 2 question – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando,J Lenni Dorner,Deniz Bevan,Kim Lajevardi,Natalie Aguirre, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

The schedule feels new for the month of September. In the Northern Hemisphere it is time for school. Labor Day marks the beginning of time that feels different. Summer days fade and all the color seems different. Nature begins to shift.

The day for me always begins with writing and coffee. Sometimes it is 15 minutes of writing and gulping down hot liquid because now I am bound by the clock more than my natural rhythms. Today it is more than two hours because I am up early. Lots of words and coffee both.

My initial instinct for this question are my go to favorite authors. Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link start the list. I am not sure I could sit with them and talk writing and not be intimidated. I am sure they are lovely people. I have seen them both speak. One of the best times I have seen Neil speak is with a video call with V.E. Schwab. The mutual admiration was adorable.

I have tried to locate all the talks Kelly has given online. I hope one day to travel to her bookstore in the East.

Another author I would like to sit down with is Amber Sparks. In these pandemic times I have been able to hear her speak on several panels about writing. I admire her writing and her style. Sitting across a table talking about how stories get onto the page would be thrilling.

In all honesty, sitting down with any writer who writes and talking about technique and how words get on the page is thrilling to me. I love that conversation almost as much as the writing itself.

For my writing class I have to prepare a short story show and tell. This title is perfect for September, isn’t it? I take a favorite story and examine the craft. How it is put together from my perspective. I am looking forward to this exercise. Taking time to look at a story line by line is like having a conversation with the piece itself. There is no way to know what the exact intent is of the author but I can have this experience with the story. It is a different type of experience I can sink into.

As an educator, one of the reasons I like to hear authors speak is to get the nugget about writing the story no one knows. It is why I love podcasts. I heard David Shannon, the children’s author speak many years ago and learned he always puts his little white Scottie dog somewhere in the illustrations of his books. When I told my students this information there was a “Where’s Waldo?” hunt for the little dog. It is fun and makes you feel like you are in an inner circle of writers.

The inner circle is a great place to be.

Happy Writing!

I would love to hear what your favorite short story is….

IWSG August

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

August 5 question – Quote: “Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don’t write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be.”
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

I have always been a writer but through my narrow writer experience I thought I had to write a novel. I had tried many times before finally figuring out flash and short stories were my favorite medium. I finally listened to the right podcast and found my tribe!

This summer the phrase, “Truth is always the best story.” keeps coming up. It has surfaced so many times I know to pay attention. As a fiction writer many of the stories I write are based in truth with the reality skewed a little. The characters feel my feelings similar to spaces I have been in. The settings are places I have been with the details changed to bend to my will. Why is it always the places we have been (and not currently in) are so much easier to write?

One of the reasons I love short stories is because I am able to play with the form. I have written stories in the form of job postings, mad libs, and recipes. I have written Twitter length stories and ones comprised of random sentences over time. No writing is wasted I have learned and many lines I have come back to that have marinated over time.

I never get bored writing or reading short stories.

There is magic in an author taking a story and weaving magic in a few 100 words. I have many models of great writing and I study them. I do not read in the same way anymore. There is pleasure but always intention to learn something new now.

One of my favorite things about writing is that it surprises me. I swear by freewriting for everything. If I do not know what I am thinking about a situation in my life I freewrite. It opens my eyes and helps me get out of my own way. I have learned to write and let it flow without censoring. Often a line or a word will appear on the page without conscious thought and it is a delight! When a description comes out in a unique way or a memory is triggered it is a delightful writing sessions. There are also those moments where I write a short piece and know I have another one that will go with it perfectly in the drive.

Short stories have a sense of mystery and uncertainty. Kelly Link is the master of short stories that do not answer all your questions. You are left wondering. A great short story is the one that stays with me and I keep wrangling with it to figure it out in a satisfying way.

As a writer this is part of my service to my readers – to make them think and feel something different than before they read my piece. I am always striving to do it better.

Holiday Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by Max Andrey on Pexels.com

Welcome back to the weekend! It is the 4th of July weekend. For some reason, the 4th always brings back strong memories. I remember the year it was cold and we wore sweatshirts and jeans and were still freezing. I remember being very young and feeling the powder from the fireworks fall into my eyes. I remember the ones where I stayed inside and watched the fireworks through the picture window (Which I prefer). I remember the one where I lit my first roman candle.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we finally got the boat here. It is such a relief and was such a long day. While we were coming through Illinois there was a rainstorm like I haven’t seen in years. It was so much water I am certain rainstorm isn’t even the word. The universe dumped buckets of water on us. I was thankful to get home after 8 hours.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I spent one day dealing with paperwork and trying to get loose ends tied up. I hit some obstacles along the way but put a plan is in place. Now I have to wait for others to do their part.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero program is right on track. I am fasting, logging my food, and exercising every day. I am seeing progress in myself and in the way my clothes fit.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the 100 day project is coming to an end soon. Sunday is day 90. I can hardly believe it. Now the real work begins with the next step. I will read the sentences in the order I wrote them out loud and then will hear what story emerges. Then I begin the work of chunking and changing the order to make a short story. My writing prep course is also ending on the 10th. Endings mean the opportunity for new beginnings.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a dynamic conversation with a writing friend this week. I was so glad we made the time to chat. I think we learned some great information from each other and our friendship was strengthened after realizing even more how much we are aligned.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to have a medium do a spirit guide reading on me. It was interesting and thought-provoking. There were a lot of general statements but a couple of the statements resonated me with and gave me chills.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid in less than 24 hours. It was such a good read and so well written!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I visited a botanical garden which was beautiful. We saw a baby deer tiptoeing through the plants and nestle down in front of a tree. It was magical.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have BIG NEWS! I finally made the decision to publish my first short story collection. You can check that out here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you episode 9 of my podcast is live as well. If you would like to listen to The Accidental Inspirationalist you can click here.

I wish all of you safety, some fun, and remembrance on the holiday!

IWSG July

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

July 1 question – There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade? 

The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

What comes to mind when I read the question above for this month’s IWSG post is the changes associated with the mindset about indie publishing and traditional. I had a writing conversation about what is next for me yesterday. I am participating in a 4 month writing program starting at the end of August. My outcome is to be a much better writer by the time December gets here. One of my goals for 2020 is to finally get my e-book onto Amazon. I had mentioned yesterday to put it off until after the workshop is over. Learning how to do it now would still be valuable however.

Several years ago the idea of publishing my own book of short stories would have not been possible – at least not as easily as it is now. I publish on Medium and here on this blog, but it isn’t the same.

There is still magic and status in my mind that comes along with traditional publishing. If a publisher came to me about any of my writing I wouldn’t tell them no. There is still validation in someone saying they see you and want to spread the joy of your writing.

There is no telling what reading and writing will look like in the next 10 years. I am sure the technology will make it even easier. With so many people at home now due to the new sheltering protocols I bet it will move even faster.

What changes do you anticipate?

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation On the Last Day of May

Today is the last day of May. What was the most impactful event of this past month? It seemed to fly by compared to the last 2 months of quarantine.

Thanks for joining me for coffee today. I am glad we are able to chat. I am having some french vanilla black coffee. What would you like today?

The weather was cooler last night which I was thankful for. The heat was too high this week and we had to turn the air conditioning on. I see money flying out of the vents with the cooler air.

If we were having coffee I would tell you today is filled with a lot of endings for me. For one, the Storyaday May challenge is over. This year’s challenge was a lot different than years past. The prompts were mostly guest posts with the 10th anniversary. The host used a new platform too. Honestly, it was discombobulating for me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote every day. Quarantine has been the time of 3 prompt mornings. June starts a new pattern. I am still in the thick of my Sarah Selecky Intensive Prep class so that prompt and transcribing will continue.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I did an energy challenge for the month of May. After listening to Dani Shapiro’s Skillshare class I added the quadrant exercise to the daily reflection. In Dani’s quad exercise, you list things you did, things you saw, something you heard, and a doodle. This helped me focus on what was important to me for the day. I always learn about myself with this challenge.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am doing the Happy Camper’s Club with Nicole Rivera. I am excited to be with this group of women again. There is a schedule of Zoom meetings for the week that I want to join!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am taking my health back. I am back to fasting and taking my food seriously. I have exercised every day and am feeling really good. The weight needs to come off by the end of June.

If we were having coffee I would tell you we went horseback riding on Tuesday. It was super fun and it was the first time the kids had gone. I haven’t been since I was in Colorado. There were a couple horses that were on the lazy slow side (labeled by the stable person).

If we were having coffee I would tell you I start my coaching program tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited. I think this is really going to help me hyper focus on what I need to do moving forward in addition to all the things I need to come back to that I already know.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I subscribed to the New Yorker. Did I tell you that last week? Sorry if I am repeating myself. I do love it. The magazine comes into the mailbox and it feels good to get mail again.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I posted about identity on Llama Tuesday. I am going to be thinking about this concept a lot over the next several weeks. You can read that here: https://tammysreadinglife.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/identity/

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about fall. This coming week I will close up my classroom for the summer. It is not the end of the school year I had anticipated by far, but isn’t that how life goes? I need to find a place to do printing close to me. I will utilize the copy center through my corporation more for sure this year.

I would love to hear about your week!

Happy last day of May again! What are your goals for June? What are the most important actions you need to take care of?

Until next week…

MayDay

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

May 1st. Here we are. The sun is shining and I hear lawnmowers .

May is the month I usually give my students the writing prompt: One day MAYbe I will….

I still will give it but it will be digital rather than in person. The prospect makes me a little sad honestly.

I am missing the library during this sheltering in place time. It does not look like there will be a lift anytime soon.

Today begins Storyaday May. I received the first prompt and wrote. You can check it out here:

I also had my Keep Writing prompt and the Sarah Selecky daily prompt. I combined all three to be honest.

Five Minute Friday is today and I wrote about distraction.

A great podcast to listen to is the Storyaday with Windy Lynn Harris. It is all about flash fiction.

I wrote in my writing process journal today and did my tarot card study.

I made my goals for the month and the day.

What are you up to this first of the month?

3-2-1 Creative Sparks

Here is some Wednesday Inspiration

3 Challenges

STORYADAY MAY

Starts May 1st! Sign up for free prompts sent to your email every day at Storyaday.org. The Superstars community is one I am active in and enjoy especially during the month of May. There are several new members this year and the conversation has already taken off in the Slack channel.

You can go to the website and post under the daily prompt and find community there if you are looking for some fellow short story writers.

My goal will be to write 30 short stories over the course of the month. I give myself one day to not write a story from start to finish.

#the100dayproject

This challenge began April 7th. This challenge involves making a piece of art every day for 100 days. Follow the hashtag #the100dayproject on Instagram to see all kinds of projects. My project is to write #100randomsentences that I will meld together and make a short story connecting them all at the end.

Bradbury Trio

In order to keep myself inspired I am loosely following the idea from Ray Bradbury to read a poem, a short story, and an essay every day.

2 Podcasts

The Bradbury Challenge hosted by Literary Roadhouse

On a whim, I search “writing short stories” and this podcast popped up. There are not many short story specific podcasts. There are three writers that are writing a story a week for a year with the idea that you cannot write 52 bad stories in a row.

Keeping a Notebook by Nina Lacour

I love this podcast. Nina gives writing ideas and her voice is lovely to listen to. She runs the Slow Novel lab as well. She does the podcast in spurts when it moves her and fits into her schedule. It is honest and inspiring.

1 Subscription

I just renewed my Sarah Selecky daily prompts. I use these every morning in my notebook and hand write for at least 10 minutes. Some of the prompts are situational, some require description of a character or a different perspective of situation.

Bonus

Another set of prompts I have been using are the Keep Writing flash fiction prompts from https://deadlinesforwriters.com/. This is the same site that does the 12 Short Stories prompts and 12 Poems prompts. It is a closed community where you post your stories and can receive feedback in exchange for you reading other’s writing. The flash prompts are usually one word and a word count. In this Shelter in Place moment they work for me somehow.

Writing and Community Resource Share

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love writing prompts. In my inbox is a daily prompt from my writing teacher Sarah Selecky. I write morning pages every day mostly according to Julia Cameron’s rules. I use tarot cards for the art for inspiration for writing as well. Last night, I even taught a class about writing and included prompts for students and for adults.

During this time there are so many of my favorite writing teachers providing free communities or classes or prompts. Here are a few of my favorites:

Caroline Donahue does an Instagram live every weekday.

Curtis Brown Creative – The Weekly Writing Workout

Sarah Selecky Writing Through Uncertainty community and daily free write

Mia at 12 Short Stories is hosting the Keep Writing challenge (a daily flash writing prompt) and is hosting a Free Writing Course.

Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish are hosting an Unexpected Sabbatical and providing a prompt every day. Many of from their coveted classes and are always a great writing springboard for me.

I love Paulette’s daily newsletter. There is always a little snippet about writing and then a one word writing prompt or the day.

Storyaday has prompts every Wednesday.

I am always inspired by the blog structures and formats from people in the Two Writing Teacher community as well!

Happy writing today – there is tons to chose from!

What will you write today?

If you have a favorite I haven’t listed – please let me know.