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

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  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

#FMF Touch

Every Friday I participate in the Five Minute Friday challenge where I write for 5 minutes using the one word prompt. You can find the linkup to other posts like this one here.

Set the timer for 5 minutes…and….GO!

There are things in this world that touch my heart and give me hope. Usually it is embedded in the words or actions of a child. There is also physical touch that I find comforting usually in the form of hugs.

I always feel better, especially when I am truly connected to someone, when they touch me. It is the casual touch as you pass each other in the kitchen or the hallway. The kisses and hugs goodbye or hello. These moments of affection matter. They keep me grounded and comforted.

Otherwise, I am not a touchy person. I do not trust too many people and find their actions suspicious if it is out of the ordinary. This goes for touches and questions!

I am more of a creature of pattern than I realize sometimes or would like to admit.

Words touch me. The phrasing of something new or words that appear before me that suddenly bring a feeling to the page touches my heart and can make me cry. So can the drive of an athlete accomplishing a goal. Watch the finish line footage of the Ironman or a marathon and you will see what I mean.

True connection and deep conversation touches me in a unique way. I try to appreciate it in the moment and also in the waves of time that comes after.

Adventures

The sun sparkled in the sky yesterday, but the wind was biting.

The gym was the first stop. Car wash was the second. Third was a Greek diner in Hyde Park named Salonica.

The vegetable soup had more veggies than I could name in a Family Feud game. It was delicious and perfect.

The arc of the booth my husband and I sit in covers the faces of the friends that are meeting on the other side. It is the conversation of two friends that have reconnected in their old stomping grounds. One successful and one that doesn’t seem to know what to do with his life. There is polite conversation at first and then the obscenities of familiarity start rolling off the tongues. It a Greek restaurant and a comfortable space for me even though I have never seen this restaurant before today.

My Greek chicken with the secret spices and hint of lemon fills my belly and I am comfortably full this Wednesday afternoon. The half potato was seasoned with something I cannot place but went divinely with the meal. The broccoli was bright green and steamed, the cauliflower tender and firm, and the few slices of zucchini a hint of the season to come.

The man behind the counter spoke staccato English and was loud on the phone. He was squeezed behind a little counter with the olives for sale. There is little space in this city. Even the streets have bumper to bumper parked cars much like the traffic in the afternoon on Lake Shore Drive a stone’s throw away.

The fourth was Powell’s bookstore. I am lost among that stack of the books that smell like the houses of all the spaces they have occupied before settling in this in between space. I look for certain authors: Gaiman, Link, Chekhov, but my eyes wander to others. Then I see the red volume 2 inches thick that is the Bradbury 100.

Just when I think that my heart has swelled with as much book love as Powell’s has to offer I go through a narrow doorway to see a ceiling 8 feet taller with books and shelves reaching to the top of the space. There is a book about Alice in Wonderland and the oddities of Carroll titled The Raven and The Writing Desk. There are cookbooks, poetry , nature writing, and a small section of children’s books. I do not acquire many children’s books anymore. I love them, but they are lonely on my shelves with no eyes and laughter to stain their pages.


Image result for powell books chicago

My three book purchases will remind me of this day every time I open them. The ride home was quick with the toll road right there.

To think that trips to the city used to be a production full of planning. Chicago was always different than Indy that I knew well. Chicago used to require well planned out directions ahead of time.

I am comfortable in this neighborhood where University of Chicago students wander in and out of buildings. They are always walking somewhere important. There are two bookstores within 4 blocks of each other book ending restaurants, cafes, salons, beautiful homes, and dry cleaners. This is my kind of place!

#Writing Prompt Wednesday

Whenever a name or a concept comes to my attention multiple times in a week I know I am supposed to pay attention. The serendipitous concept of the week is Sarah Selecky. Her name has come up on podcasts I listen to as well as her writing school. Then when I was listening to Caroline Donahue’s solo episode for the The Secret Library Podcast she was mentioned again. Sarah teaches a Story Intensive and has guest teachers. Caroline just finished working with a group of students.

Sarah has several resources on her website and a blog. She originally came on my radar when I was looking for a way to organize my short story files in Google Drive. She was the only one that had an in depth articles about it I could find that day. Maybe it was fate. I was then led to her newsletter from there. It is one of the few I read from beginning to end.

Sarah has a novel which I checked out from the library this week as well and started reading. I like her writing style immensely. The book is called Radiant Shimmering Light.


Her twitter feeds are full of great prompts too.

One exercise she talks about is a list prompt. She starts many of her writing practice days and classes with it. This is how it works:

  1. Randomly choose a letter of the alphabet.
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes. (I like the Insight timer)
  3. Write a list of words with that letter.

After the exercise you can choose some words to use for freewrites.

Choose a handful of words to write a story.

Write whatever came to mind as you were writing the list.

Here is the list of words I came up with last night while I was writing at the library:

  • savor
  • silence
  • sandwich
  • someone
  • soar
  • swelter
  • snow
  • subtle
  • slow
  • symmetrical
  • synthesize
  • soul
  • space
  • summer
  • spring
  • salami
  • swindle
  • suck
  • sink
  • sly
  • sinister
  • swarm
  • singer
  • simmer
  • saute

The words swarm and simmer and saute stood out to me so I started a kitchen scene with a character.

No April Fools

Today is the anniversary of my Oma’s death. Oma is grandma in German. It was more than a label though. It was her name. I was in the beginning of my teaching career and was looking forward to coming home to spend time with family over my year 2000 spring break. I was downstairs writing on the computer when the phone rang. From the caller ID I saw it was my mother.

“Hello.”

“Tammy, Oma’s gone.”

“Where did she go?”

I thought she had gotten mad at my Opa and just took the car and left.

“No, Tammy, she is gone. In her sleep.”

Honestly, I don’t remember much of the rest of the school year. I apparently called the teachers on my team to tell them. I remember trying to be calm and leave a message but was told later I was hysterical.

My Oma was like my mom. I spent all my time at her house til I was 5 and forced to go to kindergarten not in the town where they lived. Every vacation and weekend until I was in 8th grade was spent at my Oma’s house.

I remember Sunday dinner at your house. It was almost always the same menu yet seemed different all the time. Roast and gravy, “green stuff”, and boiled potatoes.

I remember laughing when we went to King’s Island and she was so silly.

I remember her making whirlpools in the swimming pool with us every summer.

I remember how scared she was during thunderstorms and how she would wake me up to go downstairs. It reminded her of the war in Germany.

I remember driving to O’hare airport to pick up my cousin from Germany so many summers and the awesome times we had.

I remember her getting the door slammed on her and dropping the German honey cake. She was so mad.

I remember her saying, “Shut the door we are not air conditioning the whole outside!”

I remember her German lullaby before I went to sleep.

I remember being in IKEA and hearing a little girl call her grandma “OMA” and how I looked for my Oma and then smiled remembering her.

I remember her German bible on the glass coffee table that I now have.

I remember today and every day how much I miss you. There is so much I wish I could tell you. I love you!

Right Now #SOLC Day 30

I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March! We are almost to the end. Head over to twowritingteachers.org to check out some other great blogs.

Today I am using a format from fellow blogger Terje @ Just for A Month.

Right now I am

::sitting in the bed. I do not have to go anywhere today and it is glorious!

::watching the computer screen light up to greet me me hello! We are going to spend a lot of time together over the next week.

::sensing a nap coming on mid morning.

::drinking perfect hot black coffee – only on cup one right now.

::listening to the rain ping off the roof and flow down the gutters. The birds are twittering all about it.

::finding my thoughts centering around the Neil Gaiman interview on Tim Ferris’ podcast. That episode has stuck with me. Neil is my new go to author for essays for my Bradbury Trio. I have his book of nonfiction essays.

::hearing the quiet of the morning – no alarm, no children awake yet!

::feeling thankful for my job and spring break and writing and writing community

::appreciating the love of family in my life and spending time with them

::looking forward to resting over the next week! I also have a good writing day scheduled on Monday. A real life meeting and a Zoom writing meeting.

::wondering about what I am going to write today.

::doubting I will move much today!

::admiring how much my oldest son loves baseball. He is dedicated to his team and has played two games for this season already.

::realizing that next week is my Oma’s death anniversary.

::tapping on the keys of the Chromebook is a satisfying sound

::remembering to appreciated the moment I am in and not to wish away the ones I have.

::missing nothing right now.

::worrying about money stuff but right now I cannot do anything about it.

::deciding to do #CAMPNANOWRIMO I am glad it is less restrictive. I have a (kinda) plan and I write anyway so hopefully it will be ok! ha!

::leaning on my husband as always. I am also leaning on my writing communities. I have needed them this month, more than they know!

::sending sunshine and llama love out to everyone who reads my blog

::wishing  to have a wonderful relaxing and day full of laughter, togetherness, reading, and writing!

FMF: With

with
Today is the last FMF. See the link up here.

I sit at my desk with my coffee and think about this new season. Today is the Winter Solstice and the longest night of the year. It is also a Full Cold Moon tonight. I also read there is supposed to be a meteor shower early tomorrow morning just before dawn.

I carry a word with me throughout the year. I had thought it was to be YES for 2019 but the idea of connection has come up so much over the last cycle that I believe the word for 2019 is really CONNECT.

To connect to myself.

To connect with friends.

To connect more with my husband and children.

To connect to creativity.

To connect to the universe and my intuition.

This season is full of transition again for: an end and a beginning. Today I greeted the day in heavy darkness and rain. I would have preferred snow on this first day of winter but will appreciate the stillness and peace that came with the morning.

Weekend Coffee Share

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If we were having coffee I would encourage you to get the Caramel Brulee Latte. It is just sweet enough for a change. I will have one too and then switch back to strong black coffee.

If we were having coffee I would confess that my Christmas tree is not up yet. We debated whether to get a real tree or not this year. Last year we got a real tree which was beautiful but it did not smell at all. A tree is ordered and will show up on the doorstep by Wednesday. There are a couple other decorations up, but not many. As a gift, we received a faux fireplace cabinet which my hubby put together. The stockings are hung and I have several reindeer around the house.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been writing everyday but not finishing anything right now. I had a dinner with a couple ladies from my IRL writing group which was delightful. We write very different genres and types but we get along great. It is fun to talk about process.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had the best time at work lately. I have been implementing the new ideas and learning from my week of professional development and have seen changes in attitude in teachers and their practice which of course effects students! It has been lovely to be able to follow a set of structures that are effective. I go back to training tomorrow and I am super excited about it. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am climbing out of my reading slump. I am a little farther into the NINE PERFECT STRANGERS book and I love books with strong characters. The book is sucking me in and I am happy about it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went Christmas shopping yesterday while my daughter was at gymnastics. It was early so there were not a lot of people. I was able to find what I was looking for and didn’t feel like I was supposed to be somewhere else. There were a lot less stresses than what I had last season and I am relieved about it. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am looking forward to my holiday break starting at the end of the week. I am looking forward to my training tomorrow and the rest of the week at school!

What is inspiring you this week?