Where Does This Lead?

Where does this door lead to after you open it?


StoryFest for StoryaDay May 2018


Storyaday May is a challenge with simple rules:

The Rules from Julie Duffy:

  • *Decide how many days during May on which you’re going to write.
  • *Write and finish a story on those days

My goal was to write 30 stories and I wrote 31 stories in May 2018.

Every June, Julie hosts StoryFest at her blog. You can check out some other amazing short stories by going there June 23-24!

Here is my Day 21 story for you to enjoy! Comments are welcome!

Man Murdered by Tree in Minnesota Forest

By Mountain News Service on May 21 at 2:43 p.m.
Stearns County, Minn. —

Authorities are investigating the death of a man found with a bullet wound to the head in the Birch Lake Forest on May 20.

“We are shocked and saddened to confirm the death of Mr. Maxim Foster,” a spokesperson from the park office confirmed. “He was using dynamite to extract trees in an overgrown section of the forest when he was fatally injured.”

There had been previous reports from 15 years ago of an attempted murder and suicide in the Birch Lake Forest. A bullet from the attempted murder had been lodged in a tree and never recovered.

It is speculated the bullet fired from the tree when Mr. Foster blew the tree to bits. It apparently held a grudge and fired upon the man, killing him.

The tree will not be prosecuted.

An Hour A Day…

clear glass with red sand grainer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Shaunta Grimes is the founder of Ninja Writers. One of the articles on her Patreon (of which I am a supporter) and her Medium page is about how to change your writing in one hour a day. If you click on her name above it will take you to the Medium article.

She uses a simple acronym but it is powerful to me.

View story at Medium.com


The idea is to do each of these 6 things for 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes…

W= Write

R = Read

I = Come up with 10 ideas a day

T= Talk to people who don’t live with you

E= Exercise

R= Regroup – review and plan

Writing and reading for 10 minutes a day isn’t normally an issue for me. I always have a notebook and book with me. If I am stuck without physical materials, I also have my phone which has my Keep app and Kindle app. Technology can be wonderful!

The I resonates with me and Julie Duffy’s idea sparks. As a writer, I am constantly observing and taking notes. I love it. It is fun for me. My notebooks are for idea gathering not really writing. The writing happens mostly on the computer. I have started writing a list of 10 ideas,  which has worked well over the last 2 days.

T is the one I have the most trouble with. I could go for days without talking to people and be just fine. I can get away with texting which technically is talking to people. (wink, wink)

Exercise isn’t an issue for me usually either. I am a runner but have been opting for shorter runs lately since I have been so tired. I am really ready for the summer break and the break from driving. I walked the dog yesterday in the sun at the park and that was satisfying. I will be running with my daughter this summer more often so that is a good pattern to get into again. I am allowing myself to walk, and not always feel the pressure to run which will help my mental state.

The regroup section is the one I am working on this week. I do this mentally sometimes, but unless it is teaching I usually do not write the goals down. I have set some monthly goals for writing so will regroup at least at the end of the week to check my progress.

Routine is an interesting concept to think about. I do love routine but I also am a rebel. Just because the routine is good for me or it’s comfortable is the exact reason I go against it. I sometimes get impatient with the routine and do not take the time to enjoy it.  I just want to get through it. It is something I am working on.



View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

Deliberate Writing Practice

pen writing notes studying
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

With the month of May devoted to writing daily short stories, I am also reflecting on my process daily trying to hone the practice. I always write with the purpose of becoming a better writer. I try to learn from the reading that I do and from the writing gurus I listen to. Most of this practice is one-sided as most of my writing resources are not real-life connections. I do have the benefit of Twitter and some writers group meetings this month which I am eternally grateful for.

I usually use feedback or an exercise in mind when I am writing. I have the advantage of podcasts at my fingertips, interaction with writers on Twitter, and special May video prompts and directions for writing.

My free writing exercises are never just pointless rambling anymore. I take the writing time seriously and the practice has become much more to me than just getting words on the page. I want the word count but also desire the content on the page to be worth reading. It is not always usable at that moment but can be saved away for another day, another story.

At this point in the month, I feel like my creative well is drying up slightly. I am still writing but it takes me longer and longer throughout the day. I also am aware that the craziness of the end of the school year looms in the shadows as well. There are some other frustrations in my life in regards to transitions that are wearing on me which is draining. Waiting for answers is never a fun place to be in, but one I find myself in often.

I am looking forward to summer when I can focus on some books that will lead me through some writing exercises so I can become a better writer for me, my audience, and my students.

Happy writing and reading everyone!



10 Questions On Tuesday #SOL18

  1. Have you read Click Clack Rattle Bag by Neil Gaiman? Today I offered this story to an 8th grade reading class and was so excited about it more than half the students picked it for their independent reading.
  2. Have you ever asked someone “Have you ever cried in public?” Throw someone off – do it.
  3. Have you ever asked “What do you usually get from the ice cream truck?” This question got quite a laugh from my friend! Her answer was the strawberry shortcake.
  4. What is my next right thing? This is the question I am pondering myself.
  5. Have you seen the new extreme Post – it notes? They are my new toy. I am sticking them to everything.
  6. Have you written a short story today? This month? I have written a short story every day the month of May for STORYADAY by Julie Duffy.
  7.  Are you ready for summer?
  8. What are you reading? I am still finishing Tangerine. I started Let Your Mind Run A memoir of Thinking my Way to Victory by Deena Kastor.
  9. What have you learned this winter?
  10. What is your favorite part of today? I had a great morning!



7 Writing Ideas #SOL18

Twitter Chat Blog Header 5I am the guest blogger at TeachWrite today! Check it out here!

sols_6Most of these ideas I use with picture books, but short stories and longer text can work!

  1. Quickwrite: For a predetermined set of time (use a timer) use what the book reminds you of in your own life. The rule is to continue writing NO MATTER WHAT!
  2. Stop reading in the middle of the book and have students write their ending. Finish the book the next day and do a compare and contrast!
  3. Use the title to write your own story.
  4. Write a letter to the author.
  5. Tweet to the author.
  6. Create an anchor chart “Phrases We Wish We Had Written”
  7. Use great vocabulary for a reading inspired word wall – Favorite names for these I have seen over the years:
    1. Dynamic Words
    2. Vivid Vocabulary
    3. Purple Words
    4. Fancy Nancy Words

When you are stuck with your own writing these ideas work for the adults too!

Happy writing!!

Favorite Writing Advice

pexels-photo-891674.jpegMy writing group met twice this week over Zoom. I have participated in several group meetings now with this App. As long as everyone’s sound works,  it is quite effective for getting together with people, especially for introverts. I don’t have to leave the house.

The question of writing advice was part of the homework for the second meeting. My piece of go-to writing advice is you cannot edit a blank page. I tell this to my students all the time. Reading is also important especially the genre or type of writing you are trying to create.  This quote is one I have heard from many authors but if you Google it, Jodi Picoult gets the credit.

Another piece of advice is from one of our favorite writers, Ray Bradbury:

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.”

― Ray BradburyZen in the Art of Writing


This advice was another brought up.

Another favorite quote and piece of advice is:

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

― Ray Bradbury

I continue to write everyday. Knowing I am writing a short story everyday has me constantly thinking about ideas for stories. It is a great creative place to be in!


I will use these quotes as springboards for writing in my journal to explore it a bit more.

Write an Autobiography Assignment

pexels-photo-256468.jpegI used to teach a writing lesson centered around writing an autobiography in fifth grade. It ended up being a traumatic experience with a fifth-grade section.

The idea came from an assignment given to me by my therapist in the late 90’s. She knew I could write and what she requested for was me to write my story – an autobiography.

At this point in my teaching career, I was a reading specialist and I was working on producing work products of my teaching. I had discovered great value in writing out assignments for students. This also worked well because I had a written record of exactly what I had assigned to the students. I often just had the students write what struck me from what I was reading or from an assignment I had given myself. I am organic in that way. Sometimes a child centered discussion would dictate a writing focus.

I wanted to incorporate choice but also have a format for a longer piece of writing. I wanted to scaffold for them so they were not intimidated by a longer piece. Writing about themselves gave them a wealth of material to work with. I found out more than I had anticipated.

One thing I learned is there are consequences of being the type of teacher that gains student trust. The students want to be brutally honest and write for you. The stories the students wanted to tell me were heartbreaking.

  • One girl had been on Dateline because there was a court case pending about her father murdering her mother.
  • A boy wrote about a sibling and father dying because the dad ran into the fire to save them.
  • One child that had never had a birthday party in their entire life and not because of religious reasons
  • One child wrote about a baby sibling murdered by the dad in the crib.



What I Would Change Moving Forward

  • Have a modeled autobiography. I do always write with students as I do a think aloud but did not save any of my own models from teaching this lesson.
  • I would collect student samples of work and use them as exemplars.
  • I would have many mentor text examples of autobiographies.
  • I used to have a note about not writing about video games but took that out after hearing Ralph Fletcher speak about writing with boys.

Here is the student print assignment:

Autobiography Planning

Your paper will be five (5) paragraphs long. One beginning, three body, and one conclusion. Please circle your choices.

Beginning: Choose One (1)

1.Family History – the country your family is from, interesting stories, famous people in your lineage

2. Birth – Where parents got your name, what it means, where you were born, when you were born, what time, what hospital, etc

Body: Choose Three (3)

1.Early Life – memories of another grade and/or preschool, baby stories

2. Family – who are you are in your family, people brothers, sisters, mom, stepdad  -where you live: apartment, trailer, house etc

3.Siblings – interesting stories about your brothers or sisters, you compared to them

4. Pet Peeves

5. Special time/traditions – special family times

6. Life’s Message – collect quotes that mean something to you and reflect what they mean to you. Quotes can be famous or something from parents.

7. What No One Knows – Who you are, what dreams you have, what worries or frightens you,  what you care about,  what you feel strongly about, something you like to learn

8. Special interests – hobbies,  what you like to do when you are not at school


  1. Your Future – career family college tech school goals
  2. What is happening in your life right now


Other related activities:

Rambling biography from teacher Linda Reif 

“Where I am from” George Ella Lyon 


**Something fun that happened was the fascination and interest in the meaning of student names. They became obsessed looking up the meanings!