Weekend Coffee Share – April 21

Today let’s have coffee at the table, in the bump out of the little bookstore downtown. We can chat and watch the people go by. There is a bakery across the street so I will pick out a couple croissants for us. They have some delicious chocolate ones that will go perfectly with our elixir.

I am having black coffee. What would you like from the cafe barista?

While we are having coffee I will tell you about the video meeting with my writing group I had Wednesday night. It was life giving and motivating. I love these writers and it is easy for me to set up these times.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you about the relief of knowing my car is fixed. I don’t like dealing with the bill but there is more relief than I anticipated as I drive every day.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One is the video from Julie Duffy about getting ready for StoryADay May. I encourage you if you want a boost to your writing life to participate in the challenge this year. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I choose to write a story a day but you can write 4 or choose days to write. You can check out her cool video here.

Another creative spark is the short story Saint Bus Driver by J.E. McCafferty.

There are such great lines in this story. The discussion on Literary Roadhouse was fun too. It has stayed with me and I keep thinking about it. If you read it later and would like to talk about it please let me know!

A third creative spark for me was perfect for April being poetry month. Billy Collins has created a Masterclass and I found it this week. I have made it through 13 of the 20 lessons! He is joyful to listen to. I use his poems a lot for use with kids. They are straightforward. It is inspiring to listen to him talk about writing technique. I am always learning!

A fourth creative spark this week is the Pink Full Moon.

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Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another. I think before we leave we should wander the stacks and find at least one book to recommend to each other.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I wrote everyday. I sent a story to a contest. I am getting mentally ready for storyaday May and excited about it. I tend to binge listen to the StoryADay podcast right before! There are lots of prompts and Julie’s voice is nice to listen to. Lots of notes go into Google Keep so I can write about them later.

StoryADay

While we are having coffee I will tell you I read some great short stories this week. I am trying to be more diligent about logging my reading but find it cumbersome. I found a new to me flash fiction author, Meg Pokrass who I am enjoying. She was recommended by Amber Sparks who is a wonderful short story writer herself.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you I feel like there are lots of decisions that are hiding around the corner from me. I am trying not to worry myself but there is something coming. It is not good nor bad, it will just be, but I can feel it looming! I am thankful for having The Next Right Thing book to help me navigate though. It brings me joy and focus. I am hoping to participate in a book club with this title soon.

While we are having coffee, I would tell you our teaming consultant visited this week and was wonderful. The meetings with him, my writer video meeting, and some great short stories has refueled my passion for my Inner Circle Gathering Idea. I believe I can pull it off online. The first ones are being planned to use a short story and some activities surrounding the text and then doing some writing exercises as well. Let me know in the comments or a message to me directly at tammybreitweiser@gmail.com if you are interested.

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.

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3 Question Wednesday

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I would want to have dinner with my Oma and Opa and my husband’s grandparents, Frank and Gert. No question!

Neil Gaiman would be my choice if I had to choose someone alive.

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2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

No. I want my writing to be famous, but not personally famous. I wouldn’t want paparazzi to follow me around.

3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?

Yes. I am afraid to be caught without knowing what to say. I will plan and rehearse for hours for a 10 minute or less phone call.

Feel free to answer the questions in the comments!

Mentor Text Monday

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Today’s Mentor Text is a picture book from Jacqueline Woodson.

Image result for this is the rope

This is the summary from Google Books:
The story of one family’s journey north during the great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto the car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

After I use this book for interactive read aloud the discussion leads to sharing about items in our lives that are important to us. These items have stories attached to them. The book centers around one item. This is also a good time to talk about focusing on one idea for a story if your students are trying to squeeze too much into one piece.

One of the coaching questions I am starting to use is “Which 3 stories are ones only you can tell?” Stories are important to our lives and items can be touchstones to tell those stories. I love this book to illustrate the idea of an item being a souvenir for a chapter of our own lives.

After the group discussion I have students write 3 items that are important to them on a post it note or in their writing notebook. Then the students star one item that are willing to share. I will tell the students that starring and sharing does not lock them in to writing about that one during creation time.

Then we share out. I tell students that they may add or modify their list based on the discussion. Often when writers talk new ideas spring forth. We get reminded of something important. We need to teach students to take advantage of these sunny writing moments. The shared items are written on a chart so it is accessible to students during writing time.

We also talk about what they notice about the structure of how Woodson chose to write the book. We also talk about why she chose to use the repeated phrase. Noticing author moves is important to the writing process but we also have to make sure as the teacher we lead them to make the connections back to their own writing. To understand why an author chose to use a certain craft device also eliminates the need for students to throw everything they know about craft moves into one piece. It is much more effective for them to know WHY as the author they are choosing the way to write it. Connectons to other books we have read that have repeated phrasing is good to add here as well.

Woodson uses the repeated sentence stem: This is the rope at the beginning of almost every paragraph throughout the book, which is a great structure to start with especially with reluctant writers.

Writing Springboards from this book:

  1. Use a repeated sentence stem: This is the __________ (insert important item for each student)
  2. Brainstorm stories which go along with the 3 items the student has chosen.
  3. Write a poem or their own children’s book about their most important item.

Companion book: Another book that follows a repeated pattern is The Important Book. It is written in poem form and is a good mentor text as well.

Image result for the important thing

Weekend Coffee Share – April 14

Today we are having coffee in a gazebo overlooking the mountains with the sun shining in on us just right. There is a stream that is rushing by us and we can see elk in the distance. The air is crisp and sweet. It is the perfect Sunday morning.

I am having black coffee and just brewed a fresh pot. I have some add ins today for you if you like -some chocolate or some butterscotch. Even some whipped cream!

If we were having coffee I would tell you it seems unbelievable that I was on Spring Break last week. It turned out to be a week of long days in a row which made it seem longer. Monday though Wednesday I didn’t get home til after 9 each night which is unusual, especially three days in a row.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was nice to get back into the swing of things at work again. I was able to work with some students this week in an English class which always makes me happy. The thinking that was happening was unexpected and out of the box. The discussion centered around analyzing digital and printed text with some reliable articles by Higher Ed and American Scholar .

If we were having coffee I would tell you I attended my IRL writing group holiday party Wednesday. It was postponed from Christmas time due to some medical issues. There were about 40 people there. There was a dinner, book exchange, door prizes, and social time.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Mine needs warmed up. Do you need another napkin, or a glass of water? I am not ready for our conversation to end!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I had my beta reader look over two stories for me. They are truthful stories, but deal with sensitive issues so I am not sure where I am going to take them next. They are not appropriate for my IRL group. I am scoping out a writer group in Chicago. They have author talks, readings, writing meetings, and critique meetings which appeals to me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my Bradbury Trio is still going strong. I received my Sarah Selecky story collection in the mail so I am excited to read her stories. Sara Batkie’s collection is on its way too. Sara I learned about from the Drunken Odyssey podcast which I was listening to on my run in the Dunes on Monday. Essays I think I am going to start looking at NPR. Do you have any suggestions?

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had to take my car in for repairs on Friday. This process always makes me extremely nervous and I usually put it off way too long. I found a great garage and the actual problem only cost a little over $300. The other things I added on were needed but not emergency so at least it was a choice. The car has been all over the country and we love her dearly! I want her to run for a long time so some belts needed changed and a tune up and transmission fluid change was necessary. She is running well again and I feel safer.

If we were having coffee I would tell you last week I said would pull some coaching materials together in a more formal way. I have started with some forms and pushed one out to a teacher. I also sent out the email about a mini coaching cycle. I like the idea of thinking about coaching as having deep conversations that I crave.

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.

4 Things

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Todd Henry is the author of several books and is also known as the Accidental Creative. He has a podcast by that name. I receive his newsletter which is interesting and full of creative thought.

The most recent newsletter is about 4 things which has inspired this post today.

1:A THING TO CONSIDER

Disappearing is not the same as being lost.

When something is lost it is accidental. When you disappear it is intentional. I must admit one of my coping mechanisms is to withdraw. I am learning this is partly because I find people draining if I spend too much time with them – even people I like.

I have been reading a fascinating How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency by Akiko Busch. I heard about it on the Secret Library Podcast by Caroline Donahue. The latest part of the book I was reading was about invisibility and how children have imaginary friends and why. Really interesting stuff.

1:A THING TO READ

How to Be An Idea Machine by James Altucher

I came to find this book through Shaunta Grimes. Part of her daily process is to come up with 10 ideas for writing, which I have adopted myself. Usually my list consists of random thoughts that might make their way into a story or overhead dialogue ,etc. After reading one her Medium posts yesterday I remembered I had Altucher’s book on my kindle.

The question I worked with was: Which 10 people would you choose as mentors and what question you would ask them? It was really difficult! I am curious you would choose as mentors for yourself. The specific questions stumped me as well. I really had to consider why I wanted that person as a mentor first.

1:A THING TO WATCH

Black Mirror Bandersnatch on Netflix – This episode is like a choose your own adventure book from my youth but in movie form. I had heard of Black Mirrors but had not watched it up til this past week. As the consumer, you actually make choices on the screen for how the story will progress. It was fascinating. If you like the Matrix I believe you would like this episode.

1:A THING TO USE

Pretty composition notebooks. I really love these notebooks and have been filling them with my daily writing, reflections, and writing exercises.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Studio-C-Dragonfly-Dreams-Lay-Flat-Composition-Book-FSC/691089325

Feel free to tell me your 4 things, a mentor and or a question you would ask a mentor! I am curious.

#FMF LACK

Every Friday I participate in the FiveOnFriday challenge. You can link here.

I set the timer for 5 minutes and write:

What do I lack? Currently, I feel I lack peace and direction, but I am working on it. I am so reflective that I always know where I am emotionally lacking I just don’t always know how to fix it so I put my head down and focus on the task or obsession that I am engaged in at the moment. Now it is writing. I want to be the best I can be. I read about it. I do it . I try to find mentors to help me IRL or in the pages of books and blogs. I have my Emily P Freeman book about decision making which is helping tremendously.

I do lack directions of what I want to do. The amount of obstacles and out of nowhere hits have been I want to be at home. I want to write all the time. I know it is not a bad thing for a writer to have a day job. I like most of the people I work with and I do like the work that is required in my actual job description. I am reframing it at the moment to get more out of it personally as well. It works for the job aspect but is more fulfilling. I am coaching myself and streamlining my processes to be more consistent and that helps everyone.

I do not lack in love. The relationship I have with my husband is awesome and as perfect as it can be. It really is fairy tale like.

The relationships I have with all my children are unique to them and I love them dearly and would do anything for any of the 4.

The friendships I have IRL and online are strong. I nurture the ones that are mutually life giving and make me happy. I am looking forward to storyaday May next month when there is group writing every day and there is daily interaction with other writers. THAT makes me giddy.

Happy Writing Everyone!

#wellnesswednesday

The coffee is brewing and the twinkle lights are on in my office. It is the simple things that are part of my routine that make the day go smoother!

I have already made rounds talking to teachers this morning. I had to follow up with a couple people about videos that were taken of their students before we left for break. I needed to get the reflection forms to them before any more time went by!

Today I want to share a quote that I will be writing about today from one of my FAVORITE short story writers, Kelly Link.

Look. All books are weird when you think about it…It goes without saying that real life is also weird. Kelly Link

If you have never read Kelly click here for a link to her story, “The Faery Handbag.”

#happyreading #happywriting #happyday

Dunes Run #SOL

Yesterday I went for a second spring run at the National Dunes Lakeshore. I am lucky to live in Northwest Indiana and to have access to this park. I didn’t visit the park until I was an adult runner even though I have lived here most of my life.

I wandered down trail 9 yesterday. Essentially, I ran the trail backwards from how I normally run it. The “normal” route is to go down trail 10 and then up on the ridge and then down trail 9 back to the parking lot. There were several cars in the Wilson Shelter parking lot due to the beautiful weather yesterday. It was near 70 degrees here. During the week there has been no admission fee which makes me feel like I am getting away with something. On my way out I noticed a man at the entrance booth. hee hee

As I ran trail 9 I noticed to the left of the path the brown leaves are decaying on their own timeline. To my right the ground looked burnt and reminded me of the lava fields of Kona, Hawaii. I assume it was a controlled burn supervised by the park rangers. It was surreal to see and I moved along.

Looking at the black leaves, a smoldering fire, and smoke cloud I thought about how much I like the idea of fire.

Sometimes you need to light a fire.

Sometimes you need to stoke your internal fire and follow your passion.

Sometimes you need to burn a project to the ground and start over.

Gathering ideas are like gathering twigs in the woods. Starting the project is like lighting a fire. Sometimes I start the fire/new project too early because I am excited. I light the kindling, but then I do not have anything else to feed the fire with and it goes out! To avoid this catastrophe, I’m working on gathering my resources and organizing my most recent project so I can start a fire that can burn for a long time.

A cool tree along trail 9

I was happy to run outside yesterday. I needed to be in nature, it is I way I refuel.

How do you refuel yourself?

#mynextrightthing

I adore Emily P Freeman and her work. I was honored to be a part of her launch team and have been slowly absorbing the book in small chunks. It makes me think.

On Instagram Emily offers a community encouragement project to lead people through the book. I am not participating on Insta, but will share the graphic and some of my thoughts here.

pay attention

I pay attention to other people’s reactions and then sometimes base my behavior off this information. It has made me successful in job interviews in the past. I pay attention if I care about you or the outcome.

I pay attention to small details for my writing. I pay attention to how I feel or how something looks so I can write about it later. I pay attention to my reactions to words – written and oral – and then reflect on them later in writing.

I am not consistent about paying attention to the clothes I wear. I used to care a great deal and would be in dresses and heels 95% of the time. My job is different here, but sometimes I feel like my choices of clothing is based only that I need to be covered so I am not arrested for indecent exposure.

find silence

There is no real silence.

There are pockets of time where there is LESS noise.

There are always thoughts circulating through my brain. There is always a fan on, or a machine whirring, or a phone ringing.

When the power goes out and everything stops there is MORE silence.

name it

The idea of naming is a concept that seems particular to Emily. On Tsh’s podcast SIMPLE last year it was mentioned that Emily has the knack for naming the un-nameable. This has stuck with me and intrigues me.

Is it real unless you name it? Does IT have to have a label? Like relationships – people ask each other “What are we?” “Where is this going?” “Are you my girl/boy friend?”

In writing – did it really happen if it doesn’t end up on paper? Or on a social media platform?

We all have stories and the way we tell them are our own.

Naming is not explaining. I do think of naming as reframing. The darkness has the ability to suck us into the place where we know no answers. It can cause worry, anxiety, and physical ailments.

When I am upset that a car has cut me off on the highway instead of being sucked into negativity I think “Maybe they have a sick child and are needing to get home.”

When someone gives me a reaction that I am not expecting I think “Maybe they have something else on their mind right now.”


Emily says naming can release new growth and requires specificity. But naming is something I am still figuring out. Any thoughts are appreciated!

Weekend Coffee Share

Today we are having coffee in my three seasons room. I am having black coffee and just brewed a fresh pot. I have some add ins today for you if you like -some chocolate or some butterscotch. The birds are starting to come out. They do like the trees in the front outside my bedroom window. I haven’t lived in this house in the Spring yet so we shall see which animals come to the backyard.

If we were having coffee I would tell you this past week went super fast. It was a great week filled with “just enough” scheduled events but I am honestly not ready for it to end. I took a lazy day on Friday but something happened that made me angry and sadly it stayed with me a little too long.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a great writing week. I wrote with a friend on Monday at a favorite local restaurant. It was nice to meet, talk writing, and write “independently together”. I had a Zoom call with my online group and I also had a one on one session video conference with a writer friend on Thursday. I wrote at the local library yesterday which was a different experience but enjoyable.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a good reading week too. I went to Powell’s in Chicago and bought 3 books. I could have purchased more but used restraint. I read essays and short stories and poems everyday.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am playing with plot structure for my Camp NANOWRIMO stories. Camp NANOWRIMO is a month long community writing event that is more lax than regular National Novel Writing Month. My goal is just over 10,000 words total divided between 4 stories. I am working with the plot structure to hopefully help my writing get better and show me what I am missing in my stories. A couple resources I already have are the Ninja Writer’s plot class that I discovered I already owned, the Eva Deverell’s One page novel formula, and the Save the Cat structure.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had wonderful meals out this week. We do not go out to eat often. My husband is a great cook for one but also with 4 children it can be an expensive endeavor. We went to a local place in the town we used to live where they have great hot dogs, fries, and steak sandwiches. We also went to a local “stuck in time” steak house. It was divine and a wonderful date night.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about decisions. Big ones and little ones. This is partly because Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing came out Tuesday, April 2. I have the digital copy, the audio, and the hard copy. I do love the hard cover and have been gravitating towards it.

77: Do The Next Right Thing

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Mine needs warmed up. Do you need another napkin, or a glass of water? I am not ready for our conversation to end!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I did not listen to the normal amount of podcasts I do during a typical work week. I did listen while at the gym but did not get through the input I normally consume.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am still on my Bradbury Trio roll! I DID make a spreadsheet!

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have been lax in keeping track of my connections for my word of the year. I have been connecting with other writers through the SLACK channel, Twitter, and even in real life which has been fulfilling. I have not attended the writing group however since January. The location had changed the last couple of meetings and it didn’t seem to fall on a good evening. There is a celebration next Wednesday I plan to go to so that is exciting. I have not felt very social lately to be honest. I am trying to figure out why. There is a saying that the 5 people you surround yourself with influence you greatly. I guess friends and connections is part of the decision making we talked about earlier. April tends to be a hard month for me for connection. The month reminds me of grief.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been thinking of pulling some coaching materials together in a more formal way. I have started an outline and pulling resources I already have. I have an email partially written to send out next week for my teachers as well to do a mini coaching cycle. We shall see how that goes! I am excited to synthesize some different items together that I have been using for years.

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.