#WeekendCoffeeShare #Sunday May 19th

Today please join me for a coffee. We have some catching up to do!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was a guest blogger on Teachwrite’s blog on Monday. If you missed that post you can read it here. It is called Ten Minutes of Truth.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am still writing everyday with Storyaday May. This week my stories got a little dark and a little emotional. It is not a bad thing, but it was surprising to me. Here are some of my favorite prompts this week:

Day 19: 3 Perspectives

2019 Day 17 -Aphorisms

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am using Sarah Selecky’s writing prompts every day. It is pushing me to think differently about stories somehow and I am pleased with them. Some I will revise and submit and others I will expand. I am considering her Story Course for my birthday. I would love the benefit of mentors but the price point is not one I can swing right now.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to earn a scholarship to a writing conference. It happens and I will still keep writing. I was hopeful this time. I threw my hat into the ring so I am pleased with the effort.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my students did their Living History event on Wednesday. Children from the elementary school come and learn how to dip candles at our station. There is a fire where we melt the wax and my 8th graders do a skit to explain the process. They really did a great job and led the little ones well.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you the Bradbury Trio challenge is going strong as well. I am hoping the input of great writer words will influence my writing and help me hone my craft. I need to make sure I am savoring the writing and not just ticking off the poem, essay, and short story for the day. I was doing that with the books I was reading just to get the number. It doesn’t make it satisfying if I do it that way.

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

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I received my Small Beer Press publication on Saturday. If you have read my blog at all, you know I adore Kelly Link and her writing. One speech I watched she spoke about horoscope stories she had written for a friend’s Kickstarter. I found the booklet of stories for sale and have been reading them over and over. I will use it as a model to write my own.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am nearing the end of the school year. The 31st is my last day. I have some training this summer but not too much. I am going to be teaching a workshop on Better Conversations at the end of July. I have a flash fiction writing class at the beginning of July I am super excited about as well. My birthday is in June too so that will mean a good dinner!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I finished reading a novel. I have not been ticking off the books like I have in the past since I am focusing on the Trio. I would recommend this book.

It was well written and there were some surprises at the end. It was a Book of the Month Club selection several months ago.

What will you tell me while we have coffee?

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

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#FMF Promise

It’s time for the FMF weekly writing prompt blog link-up. Writers across the world get together, set a timer for 5 minutes and write to the prompt.

This week’s writing prompt from Kate is : PROMISE

A promise is a contract. I typically uphold promises with other people better than I do with myself. I need to exercise a bit more grace with myself I think.

Promises can be large or small.

I promise myself that I will not get defensive when someone hurts my feelings. Then I do it anyway. I need to forgive.

There is promise I see in my students. Such great potential!

Marriage is a promise of being there, of loving me when I am unlovable, of staying when it gets hard. It is the promise to take care of my needs and I will take care of yours.

Friendship is a promise too. I suppose all relationships are.

I have a promise to my children to teach them, and love them so they become members of society that have purpose and emit love and light.

I have promised myself I will write 31 stories this month as part of the storyaday.org challenge. So far, so good. It is day 17 and I am cruising along.

#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.

StoryTime Club #SOL19

Every Tuesday I write a slice of life and share it at Two Writing Teachers.

Meeting with my writing group is life giving for me and even as the end of the school year is upon us I am glad I am taking the time to do this project.

I had mentioned in my previous writing club post that the discussion process needed some work. I decided to pose a question to the group that they would have to answer individually and then we would popcorn after that to agree, disagree or pose a related question to what the rest of the group said. I will say that once the expectation of collaborative conversation was presented they did a much better job. My next step is to get them to talk more to each other rather than bouncing everything off me. I do not want to be the center of the conversation, only a part of it.

The question was “What is the perfect life?”

The story used for reading like a writer was Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver.

Here is the list of craft moves/ideas for their own writing they gleaned from the text and discussion:

+Use the title

+Write sentences that conjure strong visualization in the reader

+Write about fighting over an object or a picture that represents a bigger idea

+Write a story with 2 characters

+Write the story about what happens before this story

+Write the story of what happens after this story

+Start with action – dive right in with a big moment

+ Open with a  paragraph and talks about the weather to se the mood for the story

+Use a last line that leads to more than one conclusion

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

We then finished the session with a 4 minute freewrite. The pencils were feverishly writing on their paper at my tables.

–One was a flash piece full of strong emotion and sadness.

–One was the before story – what happened to explain why the couple was fighting

They noticed lines I glazed over and had specific reflections with text evidence.

I was gifted with 45 minutes of time with these students. It went by quick. I sent them a link to storyaday and the challenge I participate in every May and September.

I think I am going to use some of Sandra Cisneros stories from The House on Mango street next.

2019 Day 7 – Flash!


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.

Storytime Club or the #SSC

Tuesday was the meeting of the Short Story Club of 7th graders.

Naming Ceremony

The first topic of discussion was the naming. They went to abbreviations and one student said it wrong and liked STC (we still don’t know what that stand might for) . The Anti Writers’ Block club was also thrown out. They decided on StoryTime Club for now. It makes me think of preschool time at the library. We can revisit the name but I think the kids will stick with STORYTIME.

Text Set Expansion

I gave them each a copy of Billy Collin’s On Turning Ten that is part of the text set we are creating with the short story Eleven. I had forgotten about it until an old copy with my notes fell out of the book I was copying a different poem from. It was Horoscopes for the Dead – talk about serendipity!

Discussion of Chuck Wendig’s story

  • What makes a good story?
  • What we learned from the first page?
  • Personal connections to the concept of “Shadow People”
  • Unusual elements
  • how the setting confined the story to one building – then wonderings about what was beyond the building
  • vocabulary
  • the author’s use of numbers and how this changed the pacing and suspense of the story
  • why big tables and glowing briefcases were used in the story

7 Minute Freewrite

The work here and after was great. Several students read aloud. There was one story that was supposed to be scary but ended up sounding like a cryptic description of the dysfunction of the hallway! It was worth a laugh – or 7.

Moving Forward

I have to do some nuts and bolts instruction on how to have a discussion. They were so excited they kept talking over each other to the point no one could hear or understand anyone’s words. I taught first graders to do it, I can do it for 7th too! In May…there is humor here…

No specific assignment was given for next week’s meeting. I met this morning with the teachers to work out the schedule and we are meeting Monday during their IMPACT time. I will also talk to them again about storyaday May and share some prompts.

10 Things I Noticed on My Run

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com
  1. The smell of my fabric softener on my sweatshirt
  2. Running on the bike trail and how the sun is shining bright
  3. The pushing and pulling of my relationship with running- Knowing my body remembers how to run and feeling it
  4. Green trees finally with the swell of a rain filled dip that looks like a creek now
  5. Groups of men playing Frisbee golf with their special duffel bags
  6. a lone fisherman trying to escape his work week with the NOTICE: No Swimming sign to his left
  7. A tan colored German Shepard walking his people
  8. Wooden benches that invite sitting but no one does
  9. Wooden fences that provide the illusion of protection
  10. 2 friends strolling with a baby

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.

3+ Ideas about Hope

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The word hope has come up several times this week. I have learned that if a concept keeps showing itself in different venues then I need to pay attention.

Yesterday was my last session with Jim Knight for instructional coaching training and the topic was being a Better Leader. One of the main concepts was …you guessed it…HOPE.

Shane J. Lopez is a psychologist who has written about hope extensively. His definition is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”

Part of Knight’s training session yesterday was asking the question: How are you living your life? Are you spending time on the things you are passionate about? This idea is how we keep hope alive and partly how we teach ourselves to be hopeful.

At this time of the school year it is easy to dip into the valley of despair and lose hope. I have to keep reminding myself I do the work I do to provide an environment of inspiration and learning for what is best for kids. When you are worried about schedules, state testing, and getting through the day sometimes you forget.

Part of this process is to do the next right thing. If you know where you are going, this isn’t as hard as it seems. Action is what needs to happen.

Knight asked us to think of someone who we thought of as a hope mentor. A person that emanates hope who we can learn from. Having a hope mentor is partly how we can teach ourselves to be hopeful. My person is Maya Angelou. She was open, intelligent, overcame obstacles, and can command a room. She was an amazing woman and I am thankful I was able to hear her speak before she passed away.

What are you most excited about?

Hope is doing more of what makes you happy.

Hope is allowing other people to teach you being hopeful.

Hope is having a hope mentor.

Three Things about Hope

Having hope means you have a preferred future vision. You can visualize it. You have goals.

Having hope means you have the belief you can get here. There is magic here.

Having hope means you have multiple pathways to get to that preferred future.

Some questions to consider and reflect on today:

What gives you energy and therefore hope?

What is your purpose? How do you make a difference?

Am I doing what I really want to do with my time?

What is working and what do I need to modify?

What is your next right thing?

This past week was busy for me. My sleep suffered and I was starting to crash. I was not taking care of myself.

Part of what helped me was 12 hours of sleep and the life giving conversation I had yesterday with my fellow coaches. We made plans to support each other in our hope. These questions are still with me today. I will do some more journaling and thinking as the day moves forward.

I would love to hear your thoughts on HOPE! Comment below…

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!