Weekend Coffee Share

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Today I am having my regular large mug of black coffee. What would you like? It has been a busy week over here and I am looking forward to talking to you about it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the work week felt odd. I was in charge of facilitating training for two full days. Tuesday ending up being an e-learning day due to weather so the schedule had to get all rearranged. Friday our literacy consultant was there who had been rescheduled at least twice. It was a crazy mixed up week where I kept forgetting what day of the week it was! Then I ran out of coffee at work on Friday morning! BOOOOOO!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a marvelous dinner on Friday. We went to an old school steak place in a nearby town and it was an amazing meal. Creamy garlic dressing for the salad, cheesy potato soup, ribeye, baked potato and fresh bread with honey butter. The creme brulee was disappointing but I will focus on the main meal!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Saturday was Adventure Day. We drove about 2 hours to Kokomo. When I started my teaching career it was in Howard County. I have loads of fond memories there. Saturday’s trip centered around the Seiberling Mansion. It was built in the 1880s for about $50,000. All the materials and labor were local. The mansion is three floors and the Sierberlings loved to entertain so the top floor is a ballroom. I really wish there were pictures from that time period. There is only one picture of a daughter in a bedroom at her desk. There have been several owners over the years and Thomas Edison is said to have attended a wedding there.

The Indiana University extension took over the building for a while. Then the historical society came in and renovated.

There were several idea sparks that came to me while I was enjoying the house. There are lots of architectural details to look at. Lots of people have enjoyed the house and many more still do.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the restaurant I was so looking forward to eating at was closed just last week. I was so sad. Mike’s Pizza had been a place I ate at often when I lived there. They had the best Italian beef sandwiches and breadsticks. We made do with another lunch place that was still delicious but not familiar.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the last stop for this trip was Treasure Mart. This is a most interesting place. If you ever have writers’ block and any type of BLOCK walk around this place and it will be gone. There are all types of artifacts and trinkets and memorabilia. There are old typewriters, Coleman picnic kits from the 60’s, furniture, old photographs, cast iron skillets, decorative and practical kitchenware, old books, knives, guns, and the Oscar Mayer Weiner Whistle…you name it it is probably in the building somewhere. Again, lots of story sparks for me here.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had my critique group call on Saturday night. I was a bit late to the call because of the drive from Adventure Saturday. I should have taken bullet point notes to talk about the stories I critiqued. It was a new format for me. I did get to hear about my story too and I clarified some questions about it. Overall, it was a great experience. Thanks to Julie Duffy at storyaday.org for facilitating!

If we were having coffee I would tell you the #write28days word for today is CREATE. If you would like to read more post in this series click here for the landing page. I have created a lot of writing lately including some letters! I have written and revised several stories too. I even submitted 2 stories yesterday. I also submitted 2 super short pieces on Friday as well. We will see what happens! I am excited about the possibilities!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I met with a new writing friend at a local restaurant and we talked blogging, writing, and teaching. It was wonderful! We made plans to get together soon to write.

It was a full week of great things! What great things filled your last 7 days? I would love to hear about them!

This post is inspired by Eclectic Alli and her Coffee share page

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Currently… Feb 14

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LOVING // Valentine’s Day!!!

READING// This wonderful short story: https://storyaday.org/wow-anachrony/  Joan of Arc Sits Naked In Her Dorm Room by Rachel Engelman

EXCITED ABOUT// I get to spend the day with wonderful English teachers and the evening with my perfect-for-me-husband!

LISTENING TO// fireplace sounds in Norway on Youtube and teachers collaborating

MAKING// Student materials based on ILEARN specifications for ELA with teachers today

DREAMING OF// writing in my dream treehouse in Minnesota

WORKING ON// Thinking about future plans with work and writing

ENJOYING// Black coffee!

WEARING// Black dress, black tights, black shoes

NEEDING// Clarity

THINKING ABOUT//Dinner! hahaha

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

#write28days Reject

Reject is the word of the day! I am participating in the #write28days Blogging challenge. If you would like to see the other posts in this series click here for the landing page.

Rejection is a part of the writing life. Being rejected doesn’t mean that you are a bad writer, however. To be a writer there are a couple of rules. You have to write. You have to finish. You have to send those finished pieces out. Sometimes I get responses that read “This isn’t for us.” That is ok. Writing and reading is a personal matter of taste. If I keep revising and sending it out it will find its place in the world!

Currently… Feb 9

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LOVING // The writing retreat space and people today

READING// I am currently reading my draft of my novel

EXCITED ABOUT// FINALLY outlining and starting revision on my novel

LISTENING TO// silence, the gas fireplace, other people writing, a singing bowl

MAKING// word clouds of amazement and connections along with new friends

DREAMING OF// writing all day, every day

WORKING ON// novel, reflections, and a library timeline of stories

ENJOYING// Black coffee! ALL DAY LONG vegetarian chili homemade with cornbread and focaccia bread

WEARING// warm slippers, BSU sweatshirt and black athletic pants

NEEDING// More days like this!

THINKING ABOUT//My characters and this amazing magical space that I didn’t know about until a few weeks ago

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

How to Develop a Library of Stories

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The word belonging came up at the Jim Knight training I attended yesterday and several times this week. Belonging is a large component of engagement which is a buzzword in education right now, but applies to everyone. Everyone has the need to belong which can mean simply to have friends and to be part of a tribe. Sometimes we find these people in real life and sometimes they are online.

One practice of how we connect with another human is through stories.

Developing a library of stories is the biggest takeaway for me from yesterday’s training. A library of stories is basically a cheat sheet to jog your memory when you need a story to illustrate a point or for entertainment. It could be on a physical piece of paper, it could be a list in your phone or a mapped graphic organizer at the back of your planner. It is a tool. It is similar to how I use my Goodreads list. Whenever someone asks what me I have read lately, my mind immediately goes blank. I often will open Goodreads to jar my memory. A library of stories is a similar tool.

Telling stories is one of the most important things we can do as people. It is how our brains work and also connects us to people! Stories are part of why I am a writer and an educator.

Storytelling is an effective practice for engagement. They are quite effective for fostering hope.

A few components to keep in mind:

  1. The story needs a purpose to the story – a why to why you are telling it. In the classroom it is likely to demonstrate concept or key idea. It may be humor or just a show of a similar situation.
  2. Effective stories CANNOT BE LAME. They should be concise, vivid, surprising, and emotional – but maybe not all at the same time.
  3. You audience must identify with the story you have chosen.

Using stories can help you illustrate the ideas you are trying to teach or portray. Danny Bauer talks about core value stories. His story of tenacity is portrayed with a story about honeybadgers. Doing the most important thing first is illustrated with the BIG DOMINO story. I remember these concepts because of the stories he told. Check out his podcast to hear the stories for yourself.

How to:

To develop a library for stories create a timeline from birth until today. The beauty is you can keep this paper (larger size might be better) for you to capture story ideas with a few words so that when you need to pull a story for a lesson or situation they are gathered in one place. You scan and choose.

List people.

List events.

List the stories that go with each using a few words.

When I first did this activity I was shocked how difficult it was for me to come up with events and people. It might have been due to the fact Knight told us the exercise should take 90 minutes and we were doing it in 2 minutes.

BUT… when I woke up this morning this idea was still with me. On the commute to my writers retreat I decided I would go through each age and see if I could recall stories that corresponded. The ones that emerged on the paper yesterday were the ones that I often tell. Several of them I have even written about on the blog. There were a few that I had forgotten about like the story I shared in my small group about a surprisingly difficult exercise class that left me uncharacteristically sore for days! It even hurt to breathe. I am sure if I would have had more time and it wasn’t 20 minutes before the end of the workshop I would have had more things to write.

A couple months ago I had made a list of 25 life altering moments based on a business book I was reading so I am going to find that list in whatever notebook it is in and add it to my timeline.

Moving forward, one idea Knight shared was to roll this idea out to teachers and then have check ins to talk about the stories they were using with students. I would love to start this practice. It would not only help the students strengthen relationships with teachers but it would cement the bond between educators.

What do you think of a library of stories? Do you like the idea of a timeline? Do you like the idea of a list? Is there a story you tell over and over?

Currently… Feb 8

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LOVING // The connections I have with my fellow coaches

READING// I am currently reading my Instructional Coaching to Increase Engagement Workbook

EXCITED ABOUT// The learning happening today

LISTENING TO// Jim Knight talk and the other coaches I am paired up with during the day.

MAKING// I am formulating lots of ideas as I sit here about writing and coaching

DREAMING OF// Minnesota and cabins with a writing treehouse

WORKING ON// Strategies to increase engagement with students and TEACHERS

ENJOYING// Black coffee! ALL MORNING LONG

WEARING// Orange sweater, black jeans and Black DOC MARTINS

NEEDING// Laughter

THINKING ABOUT//ENGAGEMENT

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

Currently…

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LOVING // All the comments on the blog this week! I feel I am connecting with more people which I LOVE

READING// I am currently reading LETTER FROM SKYE which was recommended by Tiffany/reads/too_many_books on Instagram. She is the creator of the Literacy Society group.

EXCITED ABOUT// The stories I have been working on this week. My beta reader read the one and loved it. It makes me happy. She gasped in all the right places.

LISTENING TO// Intermittent Fasting Stories Podcast

MAKING// Stories! SO many stories and blog posts!

DREAMING OF// Minnesota and cabins with a writing shed in the back

WORKING ON// Stories and coaching strategies – training tomorrow with the wonderful Jim Knight.

ENJOYING// Recent trips to Chicago with the hubby

WEARING// My favorite gray and black super soft baseball shirt

NEEDING// Clarity

THINKING ABOUT//the future

Thank you to Maria @ Cooks & Books for her inspirational post – you can read hers here.

How Did I Become A Serious Writer?

Reading and writing are best friends. I am participating in the DIYMFA Book Club again and this post is inspired by the DIYMFA site and book club. The last time I wrote about my origin story was from the POV of my first run in with writing. It infected me them and you can read about it here.

The question I am reflecting on is: ” How did I become a serious writer?” In October of 2016 I found Gabriela’s podcast. Through that podcast I found Julie Duffy and her STORYADAY challenge and website. I had missed Julie’s September storyaday challenge so I challenged myself to a self imposed month of writing a story a day. That process led me to sign up for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) and the habit stuck. THis was also when I found short stories were my niche. It is hard to quit writing when you have written everyday for 2 months. That first NANO I wrote short stories everyday and didn’t look back.

I also seriously began posting on my blog and started calling myself a writer after the first of the year 2017.

May rolled around and I participated in the May storyaday and wrote a whole folder of stories inspired by Julie’s prompts. I also gained a writing group. I took the plunge and took advantage of the Superstars group Julie offered. For support, she offered more materials and a special forum for us to talk about writing and the challenge.

What else do I do? I make time to write everyday. I started reading more about craft. I learned more about blogging and how to get more traffic and how to write better content. I read A LOT – short stories and craft books. I interacted with other writers online and found a local in real life writing group.

I recently took a class from a well respected flash fiction writer and learned more from the feedback and a critique in three weeks than most of the reading I have done about editing over the last year and a half. I hope to be able to take another class with her soon.

The next step? I am submitting. I ordered business cards this morning that list writer FIRST. I am in the lottery (fingers crossed) to get into Kathy Fish’s flash writing class. If not now, I will keep trying.

I have committed to the writing. Everyday, THAT is what makes me a serious writer…getting the words on the page (or screen).

Full Moon Inspiration

I love the website Writer Unboxed. They have an exciting conference in November I am hoping to get to as well in Salem, MA. I visited there while I was in the area for the Boston Marathon in 2012 and it has a hold on me.

Image result for full moon image free

Today’s Writer Unboxed post is written by
Leigh Medeiros . There is a little writing contest attached as well which you can read here.

The prompt she shared from her new book intrigued me and I wrote this story for it. I am crossing my fingers I win her new book!

Prompt:

Two people are falling in love – literally. Pen a short existential tale about a couple who falls in love while endlessly falling through the sky.

Plummet to Death or Love – I Don’t Care for Either One

I cannot believe you talked me into this.

I glare at him but he had no idea what I am thinking. The grin on his face is so large his eyes look beady. Like a mole.

We are done after this. SO done.

My fear keeps me laughing at the wrong time but no one can hear me since the plane engine is so loud.

The instructor yells, “ON 3! 1,2,3, GO!

I scream now and I bet all of Pasadena can hear me.

His buttery face is still grinning. The more elated he gets causes the opposite effect on me.

The force of us hurtling toward the ground – and our deaths I am sure of it causes his face to look like play-doh pummeled against the wall repeatedly by a kid. It is not a good look. Gross.

The hate for him is in my throat for making me jump…

The landscape is so pretty from this altitude.

My heart is pumping so hard I bet I am burning major calories!

I am kinda enjoying myself.

He really looks like a big kid with his flight suit rippling like a flag in a windstorm.

My love who fancies himself an astronaut. This is the closest he is gonna get.

Isn’t there a phenomenon where fear makes you fall in love?

PULL THE CORD! PULL THE CORD!

Flash Fiction Contest

Check out the Indies Unlimited site for a flash contest.

I have a story this time – come check them out. You can vote for a winner starting on Wednesday (Jan 16)

There is open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

apples and fur spokane ren faire 2018 flash fiction prompt copyright K. S. Brooks

Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Poison Apples

The last visual in my conscious mind was laying back to sleep. The ceiling looked fuzzy and blackened quickly. With my eyes open I now see myself lying on the bear skin with an apple in my outstretched hand. How very Snow White of me. I do not know how much time has passed. Apples were all around me on the pelt to tempt me. I hadn’t seen apples in five years and I couldn’t resist.

My hand slides through the furniture as if it is not there. My eyes fall onto a piece of paper that seems on my plane. I move toward it not sure of reality, while continually glancing at my form that is not moving.

A second life is possible. The parameters are simple. For a gift of 20 years I perform weekly requirements. Tasks of service but no questions or deviations. If rules are not followed death will be immediate.

I sign the page, there is nothing to lose.

I sit up on the pelt. The first task is simply to compliment every person I talk to. No issues.

Week two the card requires me to apologize to my mother even though she is wrong. I refuse. I am immediately compelled to an apple which I bite into and once again I see myself laying on the floor apple in outstretched hand.

Will I ever learn? This time the paper says I can only live for ten.