Monday Morning

A Story and a Prompt for You!

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It’s Monday. It’s summer. There is a laid back feeling even in the times of the Corona virus.

Yesterday was filled with writing, running, a coach session, and great conversations. It was also a reminder that I am too hard on myself and I am impatient.

One of the takeaways from my coaching session yesterday was that I light up when I talk about the workshops that I teach and the adventures with my kids. I will be sharing more about those two areas of my life in my newsletter and this blog in the coming weeks.

If you still need to sign up for my newsletter, you can click here!

This week we are taking the kids canoeing on the Wisconsin River. We have tried to go before but have run into obstacles like a too high river in Indiana. Hopefully, no issues this time.

One of the best parts of the adventures with the kids are the crazy things they say that I write down. Every Christmas, we make a photo album of the year’s adventures. These are not always trips either. We play games and create things inside the house as well. The book is also filled with fun things everyone has said. Often you will hear someone say, “Put that in the notes!”

While in the car last week my youngest said randomly from the backseat, “It illegal to die in some places.” Which, of course, was met with, “WHAT?” In fact, this is true, and he learned it on YouTube. Someplace they were running out of graves and made it illegal to die, at least on the books. Then he called the graves, “grave houses.” This comment led to a discussion of how in New Orleans they bury people above ground.

I have a writing prompt for you today.

I have a book I ordered during the lockdown called Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. I finally cracked it open last night and dove into an exercise. Every couple of pages there is a new prompt. I did one pertaining to surrealism by Laurie Foos. It is noted you can do this exercise with a group, or alone.

If you do the prompt on your own, you are not allowed to look ahead!

Choose a verb that ends in -ing, then a body part, and an inanimate object.

Go ahead…I’ll wait. Now write them down before you read on!

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Now, put your words into this sentence: After a long day of verbing, he/she discovered that his/her body part had grown insert inanimate object.

I had fun with mine and after a long day of transcribing my character had a mirror that had grown out of his arm. It led to a weird little story about being to infinitely able to see into illusions and dreams.

I have published my book on Amazon. You can check that out here.

Holiday Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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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?

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.

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Welcome back to Sunday! Thank you for joining me for coffee. I always love when we sit down and chat. I have french vanilla coffee today. It makes the house smell wonderful. Would you like that today or a cup of something else?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I made the last trip to Indiana for a while on Monday. We had a couple of loose ends to tie up and drove over for the day. I am glad to have those tasks done. They were looming in the back of my mind and I am glad for them to be gone now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I wrote every day. There was the end of the Two Writing Teachers blog challenge on Tuesday which is always Llama Tuesday. New challenges started on April 1st for me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the anniversary of my Oma’s death was Wednesday. I never forget the feeling of answering the phone to hear she was gone. Dreams this week have been of my childhood home and uncomfortable. They have not been about Oma exactly but unpleasant nevertheless. I am not sure what my subconscious is trying to tell me but I wish it would be more direct.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was interviewed for the Stop Writing Alone podcast on Tuesday and it was published on Thursday. The response was positive and it was a ton of fun to talk to my friend about something I am passionate about. I taught a class about more specifics about my submission practice and the #100rejectionsproject.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I ran every day. It has felt great to be outside doing something I love and running hills. Oh, the hills!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am trying to figure out how I do what I do. I had a coach tell me years ago that people do not move or think at the same pace I do. No one had ever told me this before. Many people have asked me how I write the way I do. I think it is partly just because I am me. I am trying to ask myself questions to uncover the secret formula. One thing I recognize is like James Clear talks about habit stacking I prompt stack. Clear talks about associating a new habit with an already established one. For instance, I write in my notebook right after I get my coffee. I have an internal pull to do so because I associate the coffee and the notebook now. I stack prompts — I combine them. I also will take a prompt and think through that lens all day when I am listening to podcasts, conversations, or reading. Then the ideas flow automatically. I also keep an “everything” notebook. All the morning pages, ideas, short stories, poems go into one master notebook. There is a timeline to them then and I can find things associated with time. As I transcribe this week for my #quarantineretreat goal I am sorting ideas into different documents in the Google folders.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my district is going to try to roll out distance learning with no prior experience. It should prove to be an interesting week. I am hosting a Zoom call for my kindergartners tomorrow and I am sure at the very least it will be entertaining. At least I can mute them all. HA!

Have a good week!

What’s Next?

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March has been FULL. But what is next on your creative list? There are many challenges in April you can take part in especially in the areas of poetry.

One thing I am participating in is Nicole Rivera’s Happy Camper Club. It even has a snappy happy name! You may know her name from her podcast, “Stop Writing Alone.”

The Happy Camper program is a community and support that will be focusing on a different writing aspect every day.

Here are Nicole’s Words about it:

On Mondays I PlotEach Monday I will host a live web call with attendees where we will discuss plots and plans. Mondays will be for goal setting, story structure, and other discussions related to the writing project(s) we are tackling during the month.
On Tuesdays I WriteTuesday will be all about getting words on the page.  I will host write-ins, writing sprints, and provide writing boosts (mini prompts to help writers get unstuck during the word mongering of the day).
On Wednesdays I DrinkWednesdays will be for support and chat. I will host a coffee hour live webinar for the attendees to check in with me and each other concerning how their week is going so far. We will decompress, celebrate our wins, and share our struggles.
On Thursdays I EditWhether the Happy Campers are drafting or working on rewriting during the month of April, all writers need to edit at some point. On Thursdays this April, I will be sharing tips with the group that they can either use immediately, or collect to use at the end of the month. Thursday will likely be the quietest day for me as host, but the resources will be plentiful.
On Fridays I DaydreamWhat a wonderful way to enter into each weekend — stretching out into our dreamer state. How does this translate into an offering from me? For one, Fridays are the day I always share my weekly writing prompts which I hope help writers to dream big and wonderful new creations, but I don’t want to end there. Writer daydreams also consist of thoughts of their writing career, so Fridays will include inspirations and pro tips on creating their dream writing career in addition to being a day of prompts.I had a plan. I have a plan. I laughed aloud as I realized this dream of a community project was inspired by pencils. The next step was to reveal it to the community and hope that others would be as excited as I was.The group of happy campers is growing, but as April grows nearer and the coronavirus has even more writers and creatives struggling to find their community connections, I thought I would extend the invitation a bit further, to you. If you are reading this, and you are intrigued by this month long project with fellow writers seeking to rise to some writing goal or challenge in the month of April — regardless of genre, regardless of whether you are looking to draft, rewrite, or revise — then this invitation is especially for you.The early bird pricing ended, but with all of the financial curve balls people are being thrown with this social distancing, I decided to cut the regular $49.99 price down to $30, basically one dollar per day for the month of April. You’ll have lifetime access to the group and the resources shared within. Any and all video calls that happen in the group will be recorded if you can not make the live event. It is my dream that you can make connections with the other happy campers to become your own writing tribe as you grow and write together. My mission is to get people to stop writing alone, this tight knit, highly accountable community is one of the best ways I can think of fostering that ideal in real time. If you think you’d like to join me for the experiment, here’s the link to join:

You can sign up here.

I will be there! Let’s have some fun and get some writing done with new friends. I will be writing fiction, but you can work on whatever tickles your fancy. I will probably do some planning for my May Storyaday as well.

Treasured Memories

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Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the Two Writing Teacher challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

In my life I have been blessed with lots of treasured memories within the different compartments of my life.

The first time my son laughed a real laugh.

The day I met my stepchildren and feel in love with them instantly.

Getting keys to my house.

The gift of Dairy Queen blizzards given to me as a wooing technique.

My school winning a national award and a reading program award.

The phone call that offered me my new job.

My first acceptance of a short story to be published.

Receiving notice I had secured a spot in the Boston Marathon in 2012.

Just making this list makes me feel better today!

I Remember…

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This month I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge. I will be posting slices from my very own life every day in March. This challenge is a part of the Two Writing Teachers blog. Click here to learn more information about the challenge.

Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

Why are the terrible memories the easiest to remember? There are many of these for me as I am sure there are for you as well. One of the most terrible is when I got the call that my Oma had died. The person on the phone told me she was gone. I misunderstood and asked where she went. She had been known to be ornery and get angry at my grandfather. Her getting in the car and leaving wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

I did not believe she was dead. I drove the 3 hours in desperation to see her at the funeral home. She wasn’t dead until I really saw her lying there.

It was April 1, 2000 when she passed away. April Fools day which she would have found amusing. I still think of her often. She sent me the scent of roses before I opened my eyes that first year anniversary.

She did not meet my son. She did not meet my husband. She did not see me move jobs or states.

But, she did see me jump off the diving board at the Y for the first time. She did see me graduate from college. She did see me get my first teaching job. She saw me do a lot of firsts throughout my life.

Is there a silver lining in your terrible memory? Is there a positive frame to learn from?

Image

Reading and Publishing

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Welcome to Friday!

Today is an exciting one! Big things are happening and my story is published at Storgy! You can read it by clicking the link below.

Artist Folly by Tammy Breitweiser

Throughout the TwowritingTeachers.org challenge (and through the year on Tuesdays) I watch for certain posts to come to my inbox/feed. Here are some of the teachers I read every day:

https://litcoachlady.com/

All three write beautifully and have their own style. Another thing in common is they all are inspiring.

Who are your GO TO follows/reads?