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.

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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.

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?

Leave It To A Teacher #SOL20

An Innovative Way to Make Readable Text

My superpower is teaching students to read. It doesn’t matter how old they are. I can hear nuances in their process and am able to fill in the cracks so they can make quick progress. 

I also pay attention to what they are interested in and what they need.

When I was teaching first grade way back in 1996 I needed books for my kids with decodable and familiar text for them to practice with accuracy. There was no Teachers Pay Teacher or Pinterest back then. I had to find an easy solution.

That solution was using PowerPoint for bookmaking.

When I was a novice teacher, I took risks constantly with my students. I found the ideas that worked in my classroom were based on research I found later. Dr. Richard Allington and Marie Clay were huge influencers to me. I just continued using them because they worked.

I teach kindergarten now and even with the internet resources available, I still have the need to make books for my students.

I have given books to students and said, “I saw this and thought of you.” then watch as they read it whenever they can. I have also said, “I created this just for you.” It yields the same result: Reading.

I started teaching teachers my technique when I was nurtured by the Tech Trio. These were three technology education teachers employed by my first corporation. They also encouraged me to write a proposal to share my techniques at the Indiana Computer Educators conference. This conference would be the first of many I presented at over the course of my career.

The solution for me was to take a presentation program and turn it into a bookmaking program.

The design was simple. The text would be at the top of the page with a picture to help the student read. 

The first book I needed was an environmental print book. The first day of class I have students read me the book. Then they get a sticker . I tell them someone asks them what the sticker is for they are to tell them they read a book!

The idea that my students are readers the first day solidifies this identity for them. There is no arguments. There are no limiting beliefs that they are too young. They just did what they thought was impossible.

We add to class books as the year goes on, highlighting the uniqueness of that class. One year we had to have a hot Cheeto page. 

I created books with their spelling words, their sight words, the vocabulary words for the reading focus that week, favorite class words. 

It created the environment for them to be authors.  I didn’t have to tell them to do it, it was a regular practice. Soon they learned to make their own books.

PowerPoint and Google Slides allows you to print the pages so you can run it through the copier and staple into the books immediately. If you duplicate the page and print 2 to a page then you just have to cut them in half. There is no sorting that way and saves you tons of time.

Creating books contributed to my outcome of nurturing readers and writers. What a reading community it is!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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Welcome back to the weekend! What a week this has been. There has been turmoil and change. Hopefully, we are all headed in a better direction.

I am having black coffee today. I have a few other varieties if you like.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this was the last week of online learning for my kindergartners. My team and I decided to create Bitmoji classrooms for these final 5 days. What an amazing resource this ended up being! I am going to incorporate these into my regular instruction next school year. A fantastic resource is Teaching with Neons on Instagram.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went into my classroom to close it up on Wednesday. Since January I started a new job, resigned from another, moved states, lost my voice, went through sheltering in place, and the list goes on. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn the new school system and curriculum this spring to be ready for the fall. When I begin the school year, I will know how things work and I am so thankful for that buffer. All my student items were put in paper bags and organized in the gym for pick up later this month. It is a strange feeling and not the “right” way in my mind to close the year but it is what we have. We did a dance party on Zoom with the kids on Thursday.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my goal for this week was to write my Sarah Selecky prompt and post to the private forum. I am happy to say I have done this every day. I have also commented every day on other’s writing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my “Back to Zero” health and body program is going well. I saw a huge difference in my body this week on Day 14. The movement every day, at least 3 huge glasses of ice water, and fasting is working. I feel better, have more energy, and will be fitting back into my pants very soon!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my #the100dayproject is going well and on track. Somehow, I had gotten a day behind so I am thankful for the update emails from the host of the challenge. The story is forming one sentence at a time.

Do you need a refill? I have some ice water as well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am studying more about decisions and preferences, priming, Janning, and the gap I want to close. I have been looking at my schedule and anticipating the ways it will go well and anticipating the things that might mess it up. I also color-coded my Passion Planner today. I had been using the photocopied version in a binder but purchased the real book when they went on sale during the sheltering in place. I am using the 4ish blank months of pages to write down writing prompts, tarot spreads, and quotes. I went with color pencils this time. I used to use highlighters and prefer this method.

If we were having coffee, I would give you a hug and thank you for sharing time with me. I send you happiness and light this week as you move through your week.

I would love to hear how your week was!

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.

Notebooks and Partners #SOL20

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I have a writing practice. It is established and has been fairly unshakeable during the pandemic and the constant wheel of change.

Every day I write my own version of morning pages. It is mostly writing. Once in a while I doodle but words are my jam. I love the look of more arty notebooks and entries and my Instagram feed is full of them.

Writing is how I cope. I have been purposefully NOT writing about the isolation, the school closings, the sickness, etc. It has creeped into my writing in spite of my efforts.

Yesterday I wrote a lot of sentences that said absolutely nothing. I believe in the practice and know my truth will come through if I keep writing.

I am also a runner. I used to be a long distance runner of the obsessed variety. I have run more than 10 marathons including Boston. I have run multiple ultra marathons including a 50 mile race. I know how to train.

There are points in training where you feel like you are sloggin along. But if you keep running, you keep showing up, it gets easier. There is the day you run and you forget you are running. You feel you can run forever.

Writing is the same way. If you keep showing up to the page, it gets easier and words come out that surprise you.

Yesterday I stumbled upon Youtube videos from two writing teachers I adore. I saw Penny Kittle speak with Kelly Gallagher and Donalyn Miller several years ago in New Orleans. I listen carefully to these people. They teach students, they teach adults and they write.

These videos they are posting are about what they are reading and what they are writing in their notebooks. They are talking about how they are adapting to the school closings and their feelings about not seeing their students again. They talk about their insecurities about writing and how they lean on each other.

THEY ARE WRITING PARTNERS in all senses of the word and I get a glimpse into this process because they are brave enough to record it and share it with the world.

They talk about their notebooks and what they are writing. Gallagher talked about starting to write about one thing and had to get all the way down the page revealing what he was really thinking. It is what writers do.

I listen and take notes. I am on day 4. I am watching in order.

I find myself wishing there was someone I could call and ask, “What did you write in your notebook today?” I have a small group I talk about writing with but it is usually project based. It feels more scattered than what Gallagher and Kittle seem to have.

There are teacher writer friends who share pictures of their notebooks on their blogs and Twitter. I feel blessed to be part of the world at this time of technology that it is possible.

What did I write today?

I started a new notebook yesterday and it felt wrong. So I started a different notebook that was gifted to me. It is wood and feels better. I used two prompts. One is “Last December” and I wrote about applying for my job and how I knew it was a catalyst.

I wrote a flash fiction story about a wishbone based on truth.

I wrote notes about what I think my kindergarten students should write about during this time but realizing how little control I have over this process considering the circumstances.

I wrote about how I have to let go of my own boundaries with myself so the words flow and I do not stifle myself.

I wrote about my thoughts about the videos and how I was going to use it as my slice today.

What did you write in your notebook today?

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.

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?

Dinner Guests #SOLC Day 1

db4de-slice-of-life_individual

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Blog Challenge. If you would like more information about this challenge click here.

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.

I have been asked this question many times. I read a book within the last couple of years about a dinner party of all these connected characters. You cannot help but think about who you wanted to be at your table. It is a recommended read from me!

I often think I would love to have one last dinner with my Oma who died in 2000. It is hard to believe that on April 1 it will be 20 years that she is gone. I would want her to cook the dinner though too! I miss her Sunday dinner of roast, gravy, boiled potatoes, red cabbage, and “green stuff”. Green stuff was whatever green veggies made it on the table that week: Brussels sprout, asparagus, beans, etc.

I would like to have dinner with Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link as well. They are both authors I admire. Neil writes in a little cottage. Kelly has a small group she gets together with every week. I would love to hear more about both of these practices. I would love to hear about their processes. Kelly just opened a bookstore too. Lots of reading and writing conversation for sure during that dinner!

Who would you like to have dinner with?

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